I recently finished reading a book I completely enjoyed. If you know me at all, this news is not unexpected. It happens quite regularly. Coming to the end of this particular book, however, inspired a moment of deep and encouraging joy.
From childhood, books have formed the warp and woof of my existence. I am NEVER without something to read. While going through security for a flight home from Israel, I was sent to a second, more thorough security check because my suitcase was filled with so many books (25). Before the coming of the Kindle e-reader, I would never leave town without at least three books other than my Bible, even for an overnight trip. With my Kindle loaded with dozens and dozens of e-books, I still travel with at least one print book other than my Bible in case the Kindle battery runs out of juice. What can I say? I like to read! That being said, why am I writing a blog about finishing a book I enjoyed?
This particular book was a gift from my wife. I did not know of its existence until she gave it to me. I read widely across many different genres and fields, but this book was a total stranger to me. I did not ask for it and was not looking for it. No friends ever mentioned it, and I do know people who read widely. Nearly every week finds me browsing in some bookstore, but I don’t recall ever noticing this book. Had I seen it, I would not have picked it up nor been curious about it. I was oblivious to its existence, and I was quite surprised when my wife gave the lengthy, elegant volume to me. But, I learned long ago: always read what my wife gives me!
Almost immediately, I was captivated. I enjoyed the book so much, I read it very slowly and thoughtfully. I learned things I did not know. I thought about things I rarely consider. I was intrigued far more than I imagined possible for this subject. Printed to a much higher standard of quality than most books, even the binding and layout were notable to an avid consumer of the printed page. Reading that book was delightful, not just educational and entertaining. What was the title of this book that made such an impression on me? That is beside the point. The most profound impact this book made on me was a fresh experience of the deep joy that grows out of a truly satisfying marriage. My wife, and the relationship that started so simply when I first saw her across a crowded church sanctuary in August of 1970, is the point.
I have come to define marriage as the “Great Knowing.” God intended marriage to be a melding of two lives into one new life greater than the sum of its parts. It is a physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual union in which you become more known to your spouse than you could ever be in any other human relationship. Marriage in accordance with God’s design is knowing and being known taken to a profound level. Rhonda went into a bookstore one day to find me, not to find a mere book. As she searched the shelves, she eventually did find me, the me she has come to know and understand more and more completely as the years of our journey together have unfolded. She knows me better than I know myself and shaped her love accordingly, making us an impossibly good fit together. The book I would have never considered proved to be a perfect choice. This realization leads us to really good news.
You don’t have to be married to experience the “Great Knowing.” From the beginning of creation, God intended marriage to be a living illustration of our relationship with Him. However deep our knowledge of a spouse may be, it cannot approach the depth of God’s knowledge of each us. Psalm 139 paints a powerful portrait of the God who knows every nook and cranny of our souls, every thought in our minds, every word that comes from our mouth and every action of our lives. Recognizing the extent of His knowledge changes everything. We need never fear what God wants to do in, with, and through our lives. What He teaches us, requires of us, and directs us to do should be viewed in light of His complete and intimate knowledge of us. His desires for you may seem to be impossible or very uncomfortable, but be obedient anyway. You are likely to be surprised by joy. After all, I never imagined reading Van Gough: A Life in Letters by Nienke Bakker until my wife gave it to me. Who knows what joys God has ahead for you, if only you will trust and obey the One who created you and knows you better than you know yourself!