Wednesday, July 28, 2010
They really are a beautiful picture of the gospel. A radiant bride being ushered in and presented to her husband. A nervous excitement and anticipation of formally and publicly committing themselves together.
As a minister I especially enjoy leading them in their vows and then presenting them as husband and wife. That sealing moment in the ceremony when they are officially married. It's the culmination of everything they have dreamed of and yet it's just the beginning!
Though their circumstances and experiences will change the commitment they make to one another should never change - only deepen. Ask any couple who has been married for several years and they will confirm the fact that there were things that happened in their marriage they never anticipated. What made them grow through those changes was their mutual commitment not only to each other but to God.
Marriage is and should always be a growing picture of the Christian life. It starts with that initial commitment to Christ and grows through the seasons of life. Yet it is always based on that first commitment to honor Jesus no matter what.
The Apostle Paul was always calling us back to the foundation of our faith. "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him."
All of our commitments in life should be seen through the filter of our initial commitment to Christ. This is especially true in our marriages. They must reflect Jesus. The primary reason to work hard in our marriages is to be a part of that greater marriage bride that is presented to Christ when He comes again.
Picture this, Christ waiting at the end of the isle seeing us, his bride, coming to him - loved by him and all the angels of heaven singing with great joy something like this:
"Here Comes The Bride!!!!!!"
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The response is often, "Sorry I was thinking about something else. I wasn't trying to ignore you."
That works once in awhile but it can be a little unnerving!
In a world where there seems to be an endless pit filled with things to think about it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. It is also difficult not to feel guilty when the husband or wife feels neglected because you are somewhere else even when you are right in front of them!!
The details of what you have to deal with each day would fill a notebook. Whether it's shopping or schedule responsibilities or demands at work our minds are always engaging in something. And it doesn't stop there. Many issues are unresolved or more additions have complicated an already complicated mind.
Some of us are more wired to be preoccupied than others.It could be a burden you are bearing for another person or a challenge at work that you need to resolve. It's hard to let go and you almost feel irresponsible if you don't get it taken care of before you sleep. The problem comes when we become so preoccupied that we fail to see what is right in front of us. Your husband or wife needs to know you are preoccupied with them as well.
It might be as simple as sharing what it is that is weighing on your heart. Follow that up with a simple prayer for that person or issue and it can bring a refreshing freedom at that moment to be more occupied with each other.
The Apostle Peter saw this dilemma in our relationship with Christ as well. When we become so preoccupied with our own life and efforts we become oblivious to what is right in front of us. We often do not grow as we should because we are preoccupied. "For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins." 2 Peter 1:9
In other words we have forgotten the cross. Don't be so preoccupied with life today that you neglect not only your spouse but you also forget your savior.
Monday, July 12, 2010
That's a bold statement but like many of us in this culture endurance and commitment are more conditional than we would like to admit. We are quick to justify our attitudes and actions but slower still to own our own sin at times.
A marriage counselor makes this observation, "And in this age of fast and easy gratification giving things time is becoming a lost art. This is particularly true when it comes to love." We are more easily frustrated and disappointed than we should be. That does not mean there are not times and seasons of hurt, pain and fear. Yet the call of the gospel in our marriages at those times is to grow stronger in our trust and relationship with Christ. When we don't get what we need from our spouse it is not the time to leave physically or emotionally.
Being forced to work through your pain and disappointment can actually make you stronger and more in love than before. That's hard to do when the "escape clause" is always in the back of your mind. When I don't feel like I'm getting what I need at that moment I start justifying attitudes and actions that in reality don't honor but shame Christ.
I think many of us as professing Christians give up on the Lord too soon. Many of those times when we seem to hit the wall in our marriages I believe are more about our sanctification than our happiness. Those are the times when God in his sovereign wisdom is actually manifesting his jealous love.
Jesus is not in the business of competing for our love. He's in the business of being our love.
If we were as obsessed with the honor of Jesus in our lives as we are with being understood and loved in our marriages would that make a difference? I am not making light of some of the pain many of us face but I am lovingly challenging the focus.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:38,39
What does that have to do with marriage? Don't give up until you figure it out.
It's Worth It.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Shared secrets can be fun in your marriage. Like nicknames or embarrassing moments that no one else needs to know! We can laugh at these and feel like we have that trusting relationship with each other that makes us feel even closer.
Our little secrets can also be some pretty serious challenges we are bearing for each other. There can be some unique pains physically, relationally or spiritually that we need to bear privately with each other. In God's providence it actually becomes a means for us to grow together in Christ. To know my husband or wife is lovingly bearing my painful secret and praying for me actually gives me courage to want to trust Jesus more.
The down side of all this is the possibility of thinking we have to handle all our troubles alone. It's not always intentional but we think we are only to share those secrets as a last resort. This is true in marriage as well as individually in the Christian life. Exposing my weakness or struggle is only a confirmation of my immaturity because - Christians are supposed to be strong!
Let me share a little secret with you: THAT'S A LIE!
Sharing my weakness with my wife as my sister in Christ actually makes me stronger and more in love with her as I see her love for me. The thought of having to live this life alone without anyone by my side is a formula for fear and despair.
The Apostle Paul shared his secret struggles with us in writing - for all the world to see! He pleaded with the Lord three times to be rid of a particular struggle. He came to the conclusion that there was actually strength in weakness. "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses...For when I am weak, than I am strong." 2Corinthians 12:8-10
So go ahead and enjoy those "little secrets" together but don't be afraid to share some of those secrets with others. You might be surprised just how much you have in common and how much stronger you will be because of it.