Over this past weekend I had the privilege of being in a wedding for one of my very best friends, and although being a bridesmaid is not as glamorous as it looks, I actually LOVE weddings. There’s something about watching two people stand in front of an entire church and commit to one another for the rest of their lives that leaves me in awe every single time.
I mean, I just can’t imagine someone saying to me, “Sharon, no matter how mean and ornery you get, no matter how emotional or selfish or snobby you act, I want to spend the rest of my life loving you.” That is just amazing to me! Every time I hear those words spoken anew, it seems like a miracle.
But what is particularly awesome is when you get to see a godly couple get married, and this weekend I got to see such a union. Lauren and her now-husband, Matt, are two incredibly godly people, and their marriage is going to mean great things for the Kingdom of God. At the reception Saturday night, Matt’s father gave a toast that really encapsulated what it is I love about Lauren and Matt’s relationship, but there was one thing he said in particular that stuck with me. He said he hoped that their lives together would be “marked by a trail of empty tombs.”
That phrase is such a perfect picture of what every marriage should be, as well as what every Christian life should be. The reason I think this description is so apt is because it is the opposite of what romantic relationships often tend to be. Oftentimes relationships will be marked by a trail of graves rather than empty tombs. I say that because, the way I see it, there are two kinds of relationships–ones that result in life, and ones that result in death. There are some relationships that are so centered on Christ, and bringing him to the world, that they breathe life into everyone around them. Their relationship leads to new minsitry opportunities and new ways to serve the Lord.
Some relationships, on the other hand, only lead to death. The couples become so consumed with one another that all of their ministry involvements die. They no longer have time for anyone or anything but each other. Rather than breathing life into those around them and leading people to Christ, they neglect relationships and miss out on opportunities to share the Gospel. I think we all know couples like that. In fact, a lot of us have probably been a part of relationships like that. You get tunnel vision, so everything else takes a back seat to your relationship. I’ve hurt a lot of friends that way. Rather than leaving a trail of empty tombs, these relationships actually create tombs where their Christ-centered priorities go to die.
Now relationships are not the only involvements that can prevent us from leaving a trail of empty tombs. We can be married to our jobs, to our school work, or even to ministry (ie. you are so concerned with planning ministry events that you are not actually ministering to people). Anything that prevents us from loving others well is an immediate red flag. Relationships, however, are perhaps the biggest temptation because they are so intoxicating. It can be difficult to see clearly when you think you’re in love.
Thankfully, there are people in this world like my friends Lauren and Matt who remind us that this standard of life-giving relationships is indeed attainable, as well as desirable. I would much rather have their kind of Christ-exalting relationship instead of being “that couple” that nauseates everyone around them. For that reason we are wise to hold out for more than someone who merely makes our hearts go pitter-patter. We need to wait for that special person with whom we will leave a trail of empty tombs. And as a single person, the best way to recognize that individual when they come along is to already be leaving such a legacy with your singleness. Whether you’re married or single, a trail of life and flourishing should be the only thing in your wake.