Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Friday, September 2, 2011

Love and Marriage

My beautiful wife, Kelly is our guest blogger today:

We take so many things for granted in this life.  It's not until we crash and burn or see someone else hit the wall that our eyes are opened to the hidden dangers that threaten our marriage relationships every single day.

We start out as a brand new couple, the men working, trying to be "the provider" while we women set up housekeeping, learn the art of cooking and sign our checks with a giggle as we write our new names.  Then the busy time of raising our children consumes us or we invest ourselves in our careers so that we can live well now and retire even better later.  All the while we keep working under the assumption that our marriage will be just fine, after all, it's been OK so far.  

I've spoken to several people this week (not within the sphere of our church) who have divorced or are struggling in their marriage.  I know there are numerous others who are dealing with the aftermath of broken relationships. (This is not intended to bring guilt or shame.)

I wanted to write to give you a little heads up, a small wake up call.  Don't hit the snooze's not a dream. 

John and I almost divorced 30 years ago.  I'd had it.  I was too young to be married.  I didn't get to enjoy dating.  I didn't get to _______.  Fill in the blank.  The bottom line is that every sentence started with "I".

There were characters in my life who inflated my "I" quite well too.  They treated me special.  I liked being the center of attention at any waking moment (who doesn't?), but my marital strings were binding and chafing me just a little too much.  My husband was a real drag on my ability to go out and party.  (Imagine that?)

Being deceived - whether hoodwinked by the craftiness of the enemy of our souls or willfully choosing to follow his lies -  especially because we believe we will feel better/we deserve something better/it will fulfill all our desires and needs - is only another set of words for (self-centered) sin. 

I know this...I have been that self-centered believer, wanting more, believing I deserved it, sucking up all the crafty lies that my hungry soul was craving.  Everything about it tasted good, smelled wonderful and felt even better.

Did you notice I said "believer"?  I was.  I knew the Truth... enough to know what I was doing was wrong.  I squelched the Lord.  For a full year John and I battled each other and I battled the Holy Spirit. John was not saved, but even he knew God would have to intervene to save our marriage.

Scripture says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  Yep, even that spouse who doesn't give you the attention you crave or who withholds from you the respect that you believe is due you, that same one who will not perform the simplest courtesies you see him or her give others... 

Did you know that we are in covenant when we marry?  We covenant with each other -- we agree before be faithful, to love, to honor, to stay together until the end, no matter what the situation.  Why do you suppose that is?  Are we representing God and His kingdom by our actions?

Likewise, we are in covenant with God when we become born again.  We belong to God.  He agrees to keep us.  We are His bride.  Does He ever leave us?  No! Never!  Do you think He ever wants to?  If He were not fully God at the same time as fully man...but He is!  He is faithful.  He keeps His Word.  He loves when it hurts.  He stays.  He remains.

Every day we sin, breaking our marriage vows to God, "hurting" Him, grieving His Holy Spirit.  Yet He remains faithful.  He is our example. 

I think about conforming to this example, the image of Christ, the faithful One -- being squeezed and tightened to fit the narrow sections or stretched to fill the wide areas, perfectly fitting into the mold of the Great Artist. look like Him...

If you don't make the choice to obey God, honoring His commands (specifically, to love even when you don't feel like it, ie "You shall love your neighbor as yourself") probably guarantees you'll face the same situation again, somewhere down the road, maybe with another spouse.  But it will be the same scenario...played over and over. 

And if you choose yourself over God, you won't grow.  You cannot conform to the image of Christ when you're following your own ideas of what life and godliness look like.

John knew during our near disaster that God would have to be the One to "fix" me.  He remembered the girl he she loved God with all her heart.  So he took me back to church.  It took 3 weekends of people praying for me at the altar.  I'd cry my eyes out, repenting on Sunday but on Monday I'd go back to work, ready to resume where we left off on Friday.  On the third Sunday, as I knelt at the altar, I felt something like a wet woolen blanket lift off of me.  

I was completely healed!  My desires to run around were removed.  I was so very, very happy and at peace.  I went back to work, proclaiming what God had done and was shortly thereafter moved to another division.  I'm sure they thought I was crazy...fanatical...a nutcase Christian!  Definitely a party pooper.  How could I remain silent though, when my whole world had changed?

We are called to love and we can because God first loved us.  Through our love for each other (meaning in this sense, our spouse) the world will know that we belong to Him.  

Through our choice of obedience we prove our love for Him.  Through our faithfulness to our earthly covenants we mirror the spiritual covenant for the world to see.  They see that there is a power higher than ourselves...that there is a God who is worthy of honoring, exalting, worshiping.

It's not easy to choose God.  You have to deny yourself.  You have to die to self.  It requires effort.

Sin can seem so much easier, especially when its attractions are right in front of you but you must know that consequences WILL smack you in the face at some point.

I've always found God stands right in my face when I'm tempted.  He stands blocking the way.  HE IS MY WAY OF ESCAPE; HIS ARMS ARE MY REFUGE.  Here's the beauty of God -- If I choose to take my eyes off Him, walk around Him and pursue the lie and the liar, God doesn't leave.  He stands ready to use those same arms to lift me out of the pit. 

But the pit is dirty...

Don't go there.  Whoever you are that's reading this letter --  Trust God.  Believe Him.  He is working in your spouse. He can work in you.  You're not a lost cause. Keep praying for one another.  Keep dying to yourself and living to God.  Keep thinking more highly of your spouse than yourself.  Keep serving.  Keep your eyes on Christ.  Keep serving HIM.  Pray with your spouse.  Confess your sin.  Love one another deeply.  Bear with one another.  Forgive one another.

That's what John and I have both done for and with one another through the years.  It's not easy, but you have a Helper who lives inside you.  You have a Savior who is interceding for you in heaven.  Press into the heart and arms of God, meditating on His Word and His worth.  

Choose obedience, simply because you love your God.  He has promised that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb 11:6).  He can and He will renew your love for your spouse and fill you both with joy!  You will experience the great and deep riches of enduring love.  His love...His perfect love!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, thank you. It is easy to put yourself first when you are young. It is easy to rationalize. Then you realize what you have in your partner and you put them equal or above you. Hopefully, you then realize God is first and He will take care of your relationship with your partner. Too many couples break up before realizing the power of God in relationships and everything. Love & Blessings Butch