He twirled me around one last time and said, “Meet me at the altar.” I skipped to my room to await the time when my daddy would walk me down the aisle to meet Ben at the altar.
All these years later, I have a much greater respect for the altar. In my 23-year-old mind, my understanding of marriage and the altar was more of what you see in the movies. Big house, picket fence, 2 kids, well-paying jobs. But marriage has taught me that there is more to it that just those surface things.
Our preacher talked about how important it is to have an altar to go to in prayer. If you’re like me, you’re picturing the steps and railings at the front of the church with padding for your knees as you kneel. There’s a designated time the altar is “open” for you to go and pray.
Pastor Todd reshaped this notion to mean that the altar is wherever you spend intentional time with God. I talked about this in one of my other posts about a prayer closet being my car. He expanded this idea of the altar to mean the front porch, the back 40 acres, or beside your bed. Anywhere you seek God.
If you’ve been following along, you know my mind is drawn to words and sounds. This is especially beneficial in my career as a speech-language pathologist. But as I took notes during our service, I misspelled the word altar and instead wrote alter.
Meet me at the altar. I didn’t know how much that would alter my life.
Historically, people used the altar to offer up sacrifices to God. There were many rules and regulations regarding use of the altar, but the point remained what it is today – to humble yourself in submission to God. Luckily for us in 2020, we are not slaughtering animals or any of that; but in some ways, it is more difficult for us to serve as living sacrifices.
In fact, one of the best things our pastor said during the service is that “living sacrifices can leave the altar”.
Whoa. How many times have we done that? We work really hard and feel like we’re giving it our best, but soon find ourselves wandering. We are so distracted, it becomes difficult to remain devoted.
So, this brings me back to the altar. God gave us such a beautiful representation of His love for us with the institute of marriage. To die to yourself for the betterment of the two. Sitting in marriage counseling before the wedding, that sounded like just something to check off the list so we could move on with the whole production.
I have often wondered why no one tells you about the downside of marriage? When you’re going to wedding showers and planning your new life, no one pulls you aside and says, “Hey, watch out for this in year 3 or that in year 16.” They just smile and nod and say “Congrats!”
I guess you have to experience the alter for yourself.
The good news is, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, God helps us to love and to cherish our spouse. It is really a process of sanctification.
We live in a “me” culture that glorifies the self. Social media is king and everywhere we look, the idea is reinforced that forever is up to you. If this path isn’t working for you, there’s a another. Don’t bow down to others. Live your best life.
I get it. Coming straight out of college where I made my own rules and lived according to myself, I did not cherish the way my husband folded towels when we first moved in together. I didn’t appreciate the long hours he worked while I sat alone in an unfamiliar town.
But I grew and learned how to deny myself and develop my faith based on biblical principles. After the frills of the ceremony fell away, we were left turning to God’s word at the altar. We learned hard lessons that led us to the foundation that biblical love is not emotions or feelings, but attitudes and actions that seek the best interests of the other person, regardless of how we feel toward him.
I think Maya Angelou said it best: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
What a blessing it has been! We have carved out an altar for ourselves where we can now base all our decisions. We can go to the Lord on behalf of each other, our children, our jobs. We ask God to alter our hearts and minds in order to serve each other well and to do what is asked of us.
And y’all, 7 years in, we know we’re still just getting started.
But this is a special anniversary. The number 7 in the Bible represents perfection and completeness. We are hitting our stride and learning that we must alter ourselves daily to live up to the roles set before us. Most importantly, we know that we must go to the altar daily to live up to the roles set before us.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Friends, if you are struggling in your relationship, take heart. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. There are things that take place that you never planned for and don’t know how to get out of. But there is always a way forward. Reach out to me if you need help. You can leave a comment or email me at email@example.com