Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Sanctification in the Commonplace

I wrote the post below three years ago. Later this year my husband and I will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Sometimes when I think back on our life together, this poem, Uphill, by Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) seems a fitting description of the road we've travelled:

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
   Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
   From morn to night, my friend.


Together we've faced the loss of life - four of our own children at various stages of gestation and the sudden death of my brother, so dear to both of us; one of our parents and our grandparents. We've had our disappointments, our joys and our heartaches. We've seen each other at our best and at our worst.  Life can look unromantic and very ordinary at times but as C.S. Lewis says in The Weight of Glorythere are no ordinary people.

It is a serious thing... to remember that the...person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

Lewis talks about our neighbour's load, or weight, or burden of glory that is laid on our backs and that only humility that can carry it. What a fitting metaphor for marriage:

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

I read this excerpt from Ann Voscamp's book, The Broken Way, this morning: The Real Truth about Romance & 'Boring' Men - and the Women who Love Them: Redefining "Boring Romance."          

The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.
Real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for? 

Here is my original post:

Sanctification:

The act of making holy.

The act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, exalted to a supreme love to God.

Marriage has been called a long path to sanctification.
I used to be concerned about working this sanctification out in front of our children, day in and day out. My husband and I are very different in personality, which makes life interesting; and we come from disparate backgrounds, which has caused us to misunderstand each other at times.

We've been married for nearly 27 years and for 25 years of that time our children have had occasion to witness our long path to sanctification. We've had a few momentous events throughout those years where it was obvious God was doing something significant in our lives and our children benefited from what we were experiencing. However, we were largely unaware of the myriads of times sanctification was going on because it was wrapped up in the very ordinary and commonplace and sometimes didn't look very pretty, and it certainly didn't look holy.




What is hard about marriage is what is hard also about facing the Christian God: it is the strain of living continually in the light of a conscience other than our own, being under the intimate scrutiny of another pair of eyes.

For marriage inevitably becomes the flagship of all other relationships. One's own home is the place where love must first be practiced before it can truly be practiced anywhere else. No one likes to be out of joint with a good friend or with in-laws or with an employer, but such problems at least can be tolerated. Yet any little thing that comes between a man and his wife is capable of wrenching them apart inside, and if that is not the case, then it can only be due to the growth of a callousness in them which cannot help carrying over into all their other relationships.

The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason




Last weekend our eldest son got married and during his wedding speech he shared an incident he'd witnessed on our long path to sanctification. It went something like this:

"When I was about 8 or 9, mum and dad had an argument when we were all having dinner. Dad said something silly and Mum got upset and left the room. Later that evening they were sitting up in their bed and called us all into the room and they both apologized to us kids for not showing love to each other earlier in the evening."

He went on to say that this episode cemented something solid into his life. Mum & Dad were committed to each other, with God as the ultimate authority, and the fact that we were submitted to Him helped embed a deep security into his life. This was a foundation we'd given him that he knew would be a bedrock for his own marriage.




It was very humbling to know that the Lord is so gracious and can use even our stuff-ups, weaknesses and failures  - the ordinary, common things of life - to sanctify us, and our children; to make something beautiful and lasting, an inheritance of grace to be passed on to the next generation.






20 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing the lovely story of your son's memory--it is wonderful to know that our children can and do take those times we fail and then apologize as opportunities for learning about how sanctification within marriage works.

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  2. I've been thinking about this very issue recently - how we work out our sanctification in the "million little things." Thank you for sharing this story. Good food for thought.

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  3. Families can be a painful place to be sanctified but also full of grace and joy.

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  4. What a wonderful post, Carol! Thanks so much for sharing ...... only you could say it so well! :-)

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    1. That's kind of you, Cleo. I sometimes look at what I've written & wonder if anyone will know what on earth I'm talking about!

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  5. Congratulations on your sons marriage. Yes, it's amazing at what makes big impressions and lasting memories. :o)

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    1. It's incredible how God uses even the little, ordinary things we tend to overlook.

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  6. I've been thinking on marriage a lot lately also. I'm really glad you posted this! Congratulations of gaining a daughter! :)

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    1. Thanks, Amy. She really is another daughter to us & I'm really impressed that my son chose so wisely!!

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  7. Wow, where to begin. First...love, love, love your daughter-in-law's wedding dress...just beautiful!

    Secondly, God is amazing in how he puts things on our hearts. Something he has put on my heart lately is the process of sanctification. No lie when I say that yesterday I wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal about sanctification in response to a book review they printed.

    As an evangelical Christian, I am seeing a real lack of either understanding or acknowledgment of sanctification in the Christian walk. I had a highly disturbing conversation with a couple in our lifegroup class at church. He insisted that one could be saved and then go on to live as sinful a life as possible because you couldn't lose your salvation. He failed to understand that salvation (or justification) produces sanctification.

    Sanctification, in my opinion needs to be talked about more, especially from the pulpit (at least over here.)

    Finally...

    What a beautiful story about you and your husband. That God impressed upon you to apologize to your children. It's so distressing to children when their parents fight. What a great way to provide resolution.

    Have a blessed week!

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    1. It always intrigues me that what I find on my heart is echoed in many other places - no suprise when you think that we're called the "Body of Christ." I share your concern at the conversation you had - sloppy grace?? is that the term? Re your last comment - I never heard my parents disagree, let alone argue, but after 19 years they separated & divorced & I was absolutely floored. They just kept everything under the carpet & nothing was resolved or dealt with. My siblings & I never learnt to handle conflict.

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    2. Hi Carol. That's very sad about your family. My mother used to say that to us all the time that it wasn't healthy for parents to hide everything from children and that they should be honestly express dissension.

      I say that is true only if they are respectful and also show conflict resolution strategies, something my parents never did. My mother now has apologized for that.

      Luckily God is the great healer and reconciler. I hope you all were able to receive His healing from such a traumatic experience.

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  8. Wow. How did you know I needed this today? Thank you for re-posting these beautiful thoughts, Carol. I had not read the Rosetti poem previously, but it is going in my commonplace now. Thank you!

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    1. Aw thanks Dawn. It's a favourite poem of mine from way back. Seems to be the story of my life!

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  9. A lovely thoughtful post thanks for the encouragement.

    Margaret

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  10. Thanks for reposting this. I had missed it the first time. Very much needed. thank you!

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  11. I really enjoyed this post! It's so good to know that God can and does use even our sinful responses when we take responsibility for them and respond in humility and obedience. I'm pinning on my "posts worth reading" board and Soul Survival FB page so others can be blessed.

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