Our Wednesday night couples' small group has been listening to and discussing a sermon series on covenant marriage by John Piper this Summer.
It has been a great framework for abandoning the acceptable world view of marriage as convenient in favor of the Scriptural view of marriage as covenant. Piper is deep and the conversations have been rich.
Because I am a sucker for a good metaphor, I LOVED the way this week's sermon on forgiveness and forbearance concluded.
"Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.
But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.
Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved."-John Piper, Forgiving and Forbearing (for entire sermon click here.)
Such great truth!
A great point my friend Elizabeth made (as an experienced composter) is that soil from the compost pile is actually quite rich and fertile over time...perfect for growing beautiful, healthy things.
It is good to be reminded sometimes isn't it? Perspective is a good thing.
May we not pitch our tents by the compost pile, but instead deal with the cow pies and then get back to enjoying the field with our companion.