If you’ve read more than one or two Christian marriage books, you may have noticed they tend to follow a pretty standard template. This is not one of those books! I thoroughly enjoyed it like I do most marriage books but one thing that this book did better than most others is place marriage in the proper context.
Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa, give readers a different view of marriage, one suggests that as good as it is it try to make your marriage better, our main focus—whether in marriage or singleness—needs to be something bigger than marriage: God. This is the big idea behind You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
The Chans want readers to picture marriage as a vehicle for mission, an opportunity for Christians to carry out our mission to make disciples of all the nations.
Chapter 1: Marriage Isn’t That Great- Marriage in Light of God’s Glory
I love how the book places marriage in the proper context and position in our lives. Yes, I love my wife, but I love God immensely more. It is from the overflow of this love for God that shapes my love for Lisa.
“As a pastor for over 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that most marriage problems are not really marriage problems. They are God problems,” Chan writes (20). “They can be traced back to one or both people having a poor relationship with God or a faulty understanding of Him.”
Chan states “until you relate properly to God, you won’t be much help to anyone else. People who aren’t living well makes matters worse by living together.”
Fear God- without a healthy fear of God we will not fully enjoy life and love. Yet if a healthy fear of God is at the foundation of who we are, a beautiful life and marriage can be built on this. (Location 186 Kindle)
Chan challenges the reader to “worship God not marriage”. We have a tendency to over-prioritize our human relationships. As Lisa Chan states “draw close to Him and let your marriage be the overflow of that. When things are right with God, your marriage can actually become what it was designed to be”.
Chapter 2: Pursue the Perfect Marriage- Marriage in Light of the Gospel
“Have you ever considered the fact that you get to play a role in God’s story?” (Location 554- Kindle)
Chapter 3: Learn to Fight Well- Marriage in Light of Christ’s Example
In this chapter Francis and Lisa point out how marriage displays Christ’s example to us and through us in marriage. A key statement of this chapter is toward the beginning of it and reflects the characteristic of humility. They state, “Both Lisa and I believe that more than any other attribute of Jesus, His humility is the key to a healthy marriage. If two people make it their goal to imitate the humility of Christ, everything else will take care of itself.” (Location 717 Kindle)
“Every marriage goes through moments of anger and temporary failures. But you must determine your goal. What matters most: winning arguments or resembling Christ?”
“The pride required to win your argument and defeat your “enemy” provides you with a new opponent: God.”
Chan reminds us that we are called to represent God, essentially acting as “translators” for Him. And God chose marriage as a billboard by which he could shout His message. As men our role is to help our wives prepare for the moment she sees God. God has called women to follow their husbands and encourage them in pursuit of Him. In doing these two things we demonstrate to the world how wonderful it can be to follow Godly leadership.
Chan gives us a blueprint for marriage in this chapter:
- We become overwhelmed by Christ’s care for us.
- So we shower our wives with the same love we receive from God.
- Then people are shocked by our extravagant love toward our wives.
- As a result, we are given an opportunity to tell them about the love of Christ that compels us.
But sadly very few marriages work this way! People rarely marvel when they view Christian marriages.
“Humble people are broken over their own sin, more concerned with honoring God than arguing about what they deserve, and try by the grace of God-to stay focused on the gospel and the goal.”
Beautiful people make beautiful marriages. Jesus is the most beautiful person to ever walk the earth.
Chapter 4: Don’t Waste Your Marriage- Marriage in Light of Our Mission
This is one of my favorite chapters and challenges myself and the reader to contemplate how in marriage we are partnering together for God’s mission during the short time we have on earth. A couple focused on God’s mission will naturally have a great marriage because they are working together to pursue a common goal. Chan lists 8 reasons to focus on the mission in this chapter which are helpful:
- Jesus commanded it
- Jesus is on the battlefield
- People are dying
- You were created for this mission
- The mission provides financial security
- This is the path to a happy marriage
- God’s mission is bigger than your marriage
- The return of Christ compels us
Chapter 5: Is There Hope For Us- Marriage in Light of God’s Promises
“If you’d rather watch your kids grow up than see the face of your Savior today, you don’t grasp the beauty of God”
“There’s always something immediate and attractive that keeps us from anticipating heaven” (Kindle location 1486)
Some concepts in this chapter reinforce some things I have read recently elsewhere. Far too often in marriage we look for our spouse to fill needs that only God can fill in us. Henri Nouwen in Spiritual Direction talks of this as well in his chapter on community. The overall picture in this chapter is do we live in a way that anticipates God’s promises and do our marriages reflect this?
Chapter 6: What’s Really Best For Our Kids- Parenting to the Glory of God
Here are 3 quotes that I believe summarize this chapter well:
Our kids must be taught and shown the world does not revolve around them it revolves around Jesus. We live for Him. (Kindle location 1746)
The goal in parenting is to transition our children from total dependence on us to total dependence on Him. (Kindle location 1797)
Everything we do as parents must be focused on God, His glory, and His mission (Kindle location 2014)
Chapter 7: The Amazing Race- Conclusion
The book ends with a focus on finishing strong in our lives and marriages with an eternal perspective focused on God’s mission in mind.
I want the second half of my life to be stronger than the first (Kindle location 2071)
Not everyone finishes well…don’t be stupid. Sprint for the finish line. Finish strong. (Kindle location 2096)
Picture how you want this life to end. For me, I hope I will have lived a life full of faith and sacrifice for His Kingdom. I hope I will have grown in faith and courage every year.