Posted by: pmarkrobb | June 9, 2014

one flesh

There’s a phrase common to the unique relationship I have with my youngest son.  It comes out each time he initiates or we share in considering a question which possesses at least trace amounts of gray.  I don’t even have to say it anymore.  As soon as I inhale to begin to say it, he takes the lead and speaks the words, “The question is not ‘Can I do it?’, but ‘Should I do it?’”

I smiled and thought of our many meaningful conversations considering that question as I was reading ahead this past week in preparation to write about yesterday’s passage in the book of Mark.  I love our focus this year on the words of Jesus.  I love taking the approach of being one of His followers as He walked this earth as one of us.  I love just sitting and listening to Him talk.  Among so many other things, He has the divine ability to reframe the question, turn conventional thinking and human wisdom on its ear and get to the heart of the matter in just a few words.  He does all those things with his response to the Pharisees question about divorce.

He asked them first how they would answer the question based on the law they would claim to be experts in.  “What did Moses command you?”  (Mark 10:3 ESV)  Then, in just a handful of words, Jesus completely reframes the question and gets to the absolute Truth concerning the sacred bond between a man and a woman, who have said their vows before God.  He speaks the truth of God’s creative work and of His design for us in this broken world.  He shuts the book on the potential nuances the Pharisees might follow with.

I am so thankful for, and so aware of, God’s presence in my everyday.  When I received the invitation to write today, I was in the midst of preparing the words that would grace the inside of the handmade anniversary card for my wife.  We were married 23 years ago yesterday (“thank you!” to all those silent anniversary wishes I imagine are being thought right now).  It would take too long to detail the connective thread, but suffice it to say the passage in Mark resonated perfectly with the thoughts and words I was crafting.  God is so good.

As Jesus rightly reframed the question to speak the truth of God’s creative work and design, please allow me a moment to share two bits of context for the true love and marriage that I have seen modeled in my own life.  Whenever the subject of true love and two becoming one enters my mind, I think of my maternal grandparents.  I think of the longsuffering, grace and love my grandfather modeled for me in sitting day after day at my grandmother’s side for 4 years in a long-term care facility.  The image in my mind’s eye is of my grandfather sitting so close to my grandmother’s side, there was not even a sliver of daylight between them.  Whether she was sitting up in the TV room or lying in her bed, he was right by her side.  He insisted on being there everyday … all day.  He would stroke her hand, and she would turn and just stare at him for what seemed like forever.  Their gazes and smiles wrote chapters and volumes in their love story over the years.  I never heard my grandfather speak a discouraged word during all that time.  My grandmother suffered physically and mentally, and he persevered and never wavered.  Even for the final year or so, when my grandfather’s face and name were unrecognizable because of the devastating effects of Alzheimers,  they continued to sit, gaze, smile, and breathe out the deepest and most godly love I have ever witnessed.

I recently experienced another deeply moving example of this two-as-one love in visiting the hospital room of a dear friend’s father.  He was in what would be his final days and could only “communicate” with facial movements that spoke significant pain.  As I walked into his room that singular evening, I saw my friend’s mother sitting with similar posture to that of my own grandfather.  She held her husband’s hand and spoke to him softly.  She smiled at him and occasionally began singing.  It was what they had done together all their lives, and it was how she chose to honor and love him all the way to his very last breath.  It was beautiful to witness.  And like every occasion on which I visited my grandmother, it was like standing on holy ground.

As I left that day, I stopped to give my friend’s daughter a hug.  She is a beautiful young woman who I have come to know as a friend and care for as a little sister.  I encouraged her with the picture of her grandmother and grandfather in those meaningful moments.  “Don’t settle for anything less,” were the words that were on my lips and are the prayer of my heart for her.  They are the picture and words I will encourage my own sons with, and those we should use to encourage all our young men and women.

There is a sacred design and plan for all our lives.  In living, Jesus set out the model that we as individual souls should follow.  In the words of His teaching today, He reminds all of us, who have entered into the sacred union of two souls, that we are one flesh.



  1. Thanks for sharing these personal reflections of your grandparents. My understanding of “as one” has been deepened.

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