We recently met again with the couple who hosted last summer’s marriage intensive. Every quarter or so we’ve been following-up with them in their home. It takes a pretty dramatic change for me to be able to call something a “game-changer”. When I find or experience something that makes an actual difference in my life, that actually helps me with eliminating or reducing problems, that is actually able to change me, I am not only amazed. Something even more miraculous happens: I’m convinced and I’m loyal.

That’s what our marriage intensive was for me. So far, so good, right? God intervenes in ways beyond my work and activation, and I become a better, more stable, and more grateful person because of it. Yet still the all of me returns, and familiar inner struggles come back into view. One description, the one I find more personally practical, is that the cycles regularly occurring in waves, to continue on for decades or for however long the heavenly books are written, is like the time when we visited Cape Cod as kids.

The tide went out. Water that had once been up to our knees receded to reveal the rippled valleys of the sea floor. To this day, all these years of fascination later, I still can’t explain how exactly the tides work. But I think of that sea floor on a regular basis, imagining all the hidden things I could find in the once submerged, but now exposed sand. I could do without the pain but I’ll have heaven for that. And so I’m left with the wrestling, the tired revelations saying, “What am I supposed to be letting go this time?”

In Cape Cod we saw ripples and found more shells. There was nothing man-made, no sign of anything dead or sharp. For a period in time we could see the sandbars and landscape. The shore disappeared and dared us to chase it. We marveled when the covering returned to its place. The God who commands the tides of the ocean and created the body surely knew what he was doing. He is the only one who loves all of me, and I return to no one else. I don’t curse the body or the mind God gave me. I offer it back to him.

We didn’t know what we didn’t know, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get a chance, in God’s grace, to know now. I’m seeing more and more ways in which my own love was tainted, but am also able to remain in love’s embrace without shrinking away. It seems to me that little by little, God does help us to re-understand the things we were trying to know before. I again know his love, as he burns away the collected impurities getting in the way of its fullest expression.

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