March 6, 2015 by Mathew
If there is one thing that might be called a center in my life, it’s marriage. It’s been that way since I was in elementary school. I feel that the most desirable thing ever created by God is marriage. The whole concept is absolutely beautiful. Even now, I scarcely make a move or have a thought without “marriage” being on my mind, in some way. I can’t remember a single night in my entire life that I have fallen asleep without there being thoughts of marriage and a wife or, at the very least, romance. I have always wanted to have a wife which, when looking at me from the outside, might seem unlikely.
I am a virgin. I have never been on a date or courted anyone. I have never been in a romantic relationship with a woman. I have never held hands, never shared a kiss, and have never really pursued a woman romantically. All indications are that I pursue singleness and celibacy, rather than marriage. As the saying goes, appearances can be deceptive.
In the last part of my testimony, I shared how my distress over marriage, acted as a catalyst for me to begin my relationship with God. My distress came to a head one night late in September, sixteen years ago. I brought my heartbreak to God and He took care of me. We started our relationship and it wasn’t long before I fell completely in love with God. My story picks up perhaps several weeks after that first night with Him.
One evening, I was alone in my grandfather’s shop. I paced back and forth across the building, basking in the joy that I had over my newfound relationship with God. I walked over to my corner of the building. A few years earlier, my grandpa had basically donated one corner of his shop to me so that I would have a place to work on the things that I made back then. A sturdy steel workbench stretched across the area and was cluttered with the tools, equipment, and the supplies that I used to make knives, chainmail, and other things out of metal. My forge occupied the area, as well as a weight bench and a pile of free weights. I was pretty big on working out and staying in shape back then.
I surveyed all of the stuff lying there. Only a couple of months earlier I had thought all those items defined, to a certain extent, who I was and the direction I wanted my life to go. I had spent my teenage years and young adulthood designing knives. I’d spent those same years lifting weights and building a fairly massive musculature. At one point I was a lean 275 lbs. and walked around with a bulging chest and twenty inch biceps. I grew up wanting to be a writer. That was represented as well by the things that filled my corner of Grandpa’s shop. A light blue spiral notebook lay on the steel workbench, pen stuffed down into its wire binding. Within it’s pages was the story I had been working on a few months earlier, when the whole “marriage in Heaven” thing had came up in Sunday School, sending my life into a tailspin. Looking at all of that stuff, I knew that it wasn’t exactly “me” anymore.
I knew God had something else planned for my life and I wondered what it might be. I knew God had a purpose for me and it somehow involved telling others about Him and this magnificent relationship that He and I now shared. I wasn’t too sure what to say about it though. I knew that what I had with God was special. I had never heard anyone describe their relationship with God as being anything like what I had experienced. In fact, I’d never heard anyone say much at all about having a relationship with God. The only thing I’d ever heard on the subject was that, as a Christian who had asked Jesus into my heart and been saved by Him, I was supposed to also have a relationship with Him. Nobody ever bothered to say what type of relationship that is or how to even go about engaging in it. In fact, at that time, I couldn’t have effectively answered any of those questions myself. Within moments though, there was going to be yet another “catalyst” that would lead to God providing the answers to these questions.
On a shelf was my Dad’s big, old, early eighties boombox that had sort of been designated as the shop radio. I fired the thing up, switched it over from shortwave to FM, and proceeded to hunt for a Christian radio station. I found one and ended up tuning in to the last several seconds of someone’s broadcast. The man said something about listening next time and ended his show by proclaiming in a slow, soft, blissful tone that we Christians are the “Bride of Christ.” I stopped in my tracks and turned around, shooting a heavy frown at the radio. This was definitely something that didn’t sit well with my male mind. Once again I had just been introduced to something written of in the Bible that I had never heard about in all my years of church attendance. As with the previous time that I had been acquainted with a fresh Biblical concept, my life was about to be upturned.
I walked over and turned off the radio, completely disgusted by the man’s words. My disgust promptly turned into anger. Marriage was a thing for men and women to share. How dare someone blaspheme this beautiful, splendid, wonderful being that had become the best friend of my life. I treasured, cherished, and held the utmost respect for God and now some guy was insinuating that Christian men and women were somehow maritally linked to Jesus. I turned the lights out in the shop and closed it up. I went to bed that night with a sick feeling in my gut and a sour aftertaste in the back of my mind. Over the course of the next several days I walked around carrying a nagging distaste for the man’s seemingly blasphemous words.
One evening, early in the week, I lay on the bed enjoying the soft, warm, beautiful glow of God’s presence. Suddenly that same presence flared up and overtook me from within. I was swept up into a vision in my mind. I stood beside God before a great gathering of people. He shined so bright and beautiful that I could only look at Him for brief moments. I was curious as to what was going on but, I didn’t really care because I was with God and it was absolutely wonderful. Suddenly, as God and I stood there before all of these people, we were wed to one another. No words were spoken. It was all feeling, emotion, and simple matter of fact – very surreal as dreams and visions often are.
It was very powerful and overwhelming. It was absolutely wonderful – a beautiful, joyous, happy, magnificent thing. I loved God with all of my heart and He loved me. I felt so loved, treasured, cherished, and special that I was completely overcome with happiness. The vision subsided and I spent the rest of the evening flowing with joy. For three days I walked around enshrouded in an impenetrable cone of bliss and happiness.
When I was driving home from class, around eleven o’clock the following Thursday night, everything came crashing down. I burst into tears and pulled off to the side of the road, frightened and confused. A wave of realization overtook me. For a couple of months I had been experiencing things that no one else could even perceive, much less understand. I was conversing with God. Albeit my interactions with Him were not audible; I did have a heavy duty dialog going on within my consciousness. I assumed, just that fact alone could get me certified as being insane under the right conditions. What’s more is, I had been walking around for three days with the idea in my mind that I was joined to God in marriage. If the other thing wasn’t a certifiable act then I thought this must certainly qualify as one.
I wondered if my mind had somehow been poisoned by the man on the radio. Being a fan of science fiction, the thought of subliminal messages and brainwashing crossed my mind. That couldn’t have been the case though. This had to be real because, for the first time, my life was getting better in areas that I never thought possible. Hurts and wounds were being healed. Questions were being answered. My lifelong needs and desires were being fulfilled. It was the best thing that had ever happened to me. For the first time in my life I felt truly whole, truly alive, truly clean in my soul. For the first time I felt true hope within my heart. The happenings of the past few months had been real, tangible things and the real-world evidence was that I had been made better by them. I had no doubt, and have none to this day, that what happened to me was real and is exactly what it appeared to be – God came and entered into a marital relationship with me in my heart and spirit.
Logically, none of these things should have been a problem for me. I didn’t owe anyone an explanation of the goings on in my spiritual life. It shouldn’t have mattered if other people believed these things were real or not. I knew they were real. I had my changed heart as proof. Besides, what anyone else thought didn’t matter because I could just keep the whole chain of events to myself, continue enjoying the beauty of it all, and have no one else be the wiser. The only problem with this was that God had already told me to do something else with it.
The thing that really frightened me was the fact that God had made it very clear that I was to tell others about my relationship with Him, particularly the part about it being a marital relationship. I was terrified out of my mind. The churches I had attended my whole life, the people I knew, my family – everyone was pretty straight-laced and no one really went for the whole “heavy duty spiritual experience” thing. I myself, just several months earlier, would have been inclined to subconsciously write these things off as delusional experiences if I’d heard someone else talk about them. How in the world was I going to tell people about all of this without scaring them away or becoming an outcast of some sort? I started my car and drove home that night exhausted and with no answers. The next day, as I prayed about the matter, God posed some questions in my mind.
“What do you think we have been doing the past couple of months? When is the only time two people sit down and share and surrender their hearts to one another? When is the only time two people come together and plan out a life to share with one another? What other relationship is there where two people give and have all of each other and come together as one in love and intimacy as we have done?” I knew the answers to these questions. It was the relationship I had sought my entire life – marriage. It is exactly what God and I had been doing. That ended most of my major doubts about everything. Any concerns I had about the Biblical soundness of Christians sharing a personal marital relationship with God were put to rest as I read my way through the Bible over the course of the next year.
The concept of people sharing a marriage with God is something that is woven through every part of the Bible. In the weeks and months following that night I encountered verse after verse and passage after passage that were about people being linked with and relating to God in a marital way. One of the most powerful of these passages is the fifty-forth chapter of Isaiah.
The fifty-forth chapter of Isaiah is fairly short. The entire chapter is a list in which God declares the promises and blessings that he has for those who serve him. Two things that stood out to me on this list are verse five and the last sentence of the chapter in verse 17.
Isaiah Ch. 54:5&17
5. For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
17. “. . . This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.
In verse five God states that He is our husband. In verse seventeen, at the very end of the list, he indicates whom all of these promises are for, including the promise of husbandry in verse five. He states that these promises and blessings are for those who serve Him. What that means is that God’s intention is to have a marital relationship with anyone who has accepted Christ as their savior because, if you have been saved by Christ, you are called to be God’s servant. This declaration isn’t wrapped up and hidden in parables as a lot of the Bible’s nuggets of insight and revelation tend to be. God states plainly and clearly that if you are His servant, part of your heritage or, birthright, is that He is your husband.
Another verse that impacted me early on was Hosea 2:16. In this book God tells Hosea to marry a woman – Gomer – whom he knows beforehand will be unfaithful. God uses Hosea and Gomer’s painful love story as a mirror for his own with the Jewish people and, indeed, it mirrors the way God deals with any sinner. At one point in the book God talks about getting his bride back, after forgiving her unfaithfulness.
14. “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
15. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16. “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me `my husband’; you will no longer call me `my master. ‘
Verse 16 describes exactly the way my relationship with God had been. Up until that first night with God He had been like a “master.” He had been present but distant – holding me away at arms length. He had been emotionally closed off. He gave me instruction for how to run my life and allowed me make requests of him. He was above me and I beneath Him. Never had my relationship with God been an intimate experience. Indeed, it seems to be very much like that for many Christians.
After that night God had definitely become as a Husband to me. He had become affectionate. He shared his emotions and allowed me to share mine. He had basically entwined his heart and soul with mine making his spirit naked and vulnerable to me and mine naked and vulnerable to Him. I definitely interacted with and thought of God as I would a spouse. The relationship had become loving and intimate, very much a romance of my heart and soul. God was no longer a master to me but, had become my husband.
Ever since, for over sixteen years now, I have treated, lived, nurtured, and pursued my relationship with God as a marital relationship. I’m sure that concept will sound distasteful to many, as it did to me a long time ago. There are others who will read this and understand my relationship with God completely. Some that I have shared this testimony with were clearly uncomfortable with it. Others thought it was beautiful. One pastor, after hearing how I pursued and treated my relationship with God, breathed a sigh of relief and was happy that someone actually understood. Other pastors have been ill-at-ease with it.
Whether people believe my testimony or not, whether they agree with it or not doesn’t change the fact that the relationship that I have with God has been what’s saved me. My adult life hasn’t been any more easy or pleasant than my time growing up. If my relationship with God had been anything less than a marital relationship, I would not have survived. In fact, if that relationship had not been a marriage, it would pretty much be non-existent. But, because it has been a marital relationship, it has been something that many Christians only dream about having with God.
I suppose in wrapping up what has become a very long post, I would like to come back around to the topic that I first mentioned in this testimony: a wife. Though I share a marital relationship with God and consider Him to be my spiritual spouse, He has never taken away the powerful desire that I have for a wife. Though I’ve asked him more than once, He has never filled the empty places within my heart that He put there for a wife to someday fill. He has never taken for himself, the places in my life that are her’s to have. God doesn’t generally do that with people anyway. In the Bible God refers to Himself, numerous times, as a “first love.” He doesn’t expect us to not fall in love with a member of the opposite sex. He does desire, though, that we fall in love with Him first; that we share a romance, a marriage in our hearts, with Him before we do so with anyone else.
Marriage is the most holy thing God ever created. Anything holy requires an offering of first fruits to be given in it’s honor. With marriage that offering is virginity. In an earthly marriage, between a man and woman, it is primarily sexual virginity. In a spiritual marriage with God, the first fruits offering is the virginity of your heart. God want’s to have your heart for his very own before he considers sharing it with anyone else.
On that note, I have finished sharing the first part of my testimony. In the next post I plan to share why it has been so important in my life to share a marital relationship with God before I ever shared it with anyone else. With any luck, It won’t be two and a half years before I get around to posting it.