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The Message of Easter: Die in Order to Live

I was finishing up a premarital counseling session for a wonderful young couple. We were only a few weeks away from the wedding, and we had already put the finishing touches on the service. As we came to the end of this last meeting, the groom-to-be blurted out, "I just have to say that I am so scared of this!" He suddenly had the undivided attention of his fiancée. He quickly added, "Oh no, honey! It isn't that I'm afraid of being married to you. I'm afraid of losing you. When my mother died, the grief was just overwhelming, and I love you even more. I just don't know how I can ever survive if something happens to you." Then he looked at me.

I could tell from his pleading eyes that he wanted me to reassure him that they were both young and healthy, and that he needn't worry about such things. But I couldn't say that, because I have buried too many young people. So I said, "In my experience, 100 percent of all marriages come to an end—some tragically through divorce or early death; others last for over 60 years. If your marriage is long and filled with intimacy, then when death comes, you're going to be even more in love than you are now. Then it will hurt even more to say goodbye when the time finally comes. And that's the best scenario you've got! So why do you want to go through marriage wondering if this is the day you'll lose your beloved? Give her up today. Get the grieving over with. Die to your right to have her, die to your fear of losing her, and die to the myth that you can keep her. Until you do, you'll be too afraid to enjoy her."

It wasn't what he wanted to hear, but on this side of Easter, it's the only thing a pastor can say. Because the terrifying truth of the Cross even speaks to something like marriage: it's only in dying that we can finally live.

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