Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Joyful Struggle

At the heart of marriage is joy, peace and love. Yet it is also surrounded by struggle. We live in a world that is effected by sin in every way. Wherever you look there are evidences of what sin does to God's creation.

We also live in bodies that are bearing the effects of sin. As Christians we have hearts that are changed and now are places of residence for the very Spirit of Jesus. Yet all around us is the struggle of sin that still resides. "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand." Romans 7:21

Why is it that so many of us have such trouble living in this tension of a "joyful struggle?" Could it be that we all too quickly look at the struggle and ignore the stability we have at the core? What holds a marriage together is not the happiness of the moment but the commitment and vows made at the beginning. The knowledge that at the core my husband or wife will never leave or stop loving can actually bring a freedom. A freedom to struggle more realistically and maturely - not selfishly.

In the same way look at how many of us as Christians live in that joyful struggle of life in Christ. When trials come and disappointment surrounds us we all too quickly have an identity crisis. My identity is now what surrounds me not who is within me. We can feel as though God has left us or his commitment was not as sure as we thought. There is no joy but only struggle.

Yet when we pause to cry out he is faithful to answer and remind us of his love. "This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life." Psalm 119:50 Jesus' love, at the core, is permanent, forgiving, pursuing, and unconditional. Struggles will come and go but his love is unbelievably unchangeable.

What a marriage commitment our Savour has to his bride! May our marriages be based on that love and in turn, reflect that love.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take A Picture

Pictures have a way of capturing the moment. Graduations. Vacations. Wedding days. Baby's first steps. Moments in life you don't ever want to forget are sealed in an instant.

There are moments in life we would rather forget but there are also those cherished memories we never want to loose. When you look through that photo album it's amazing how many feelings as well as details come rushing back into your heart and mind. Things you thought you forgot are now fresh on your mind. You can relive the story as though it just happened.

Our marriages are also filled with special memories. Many of them are in pictures hidden away in some closet collecting dust. But who has time to just sit and remember?! There are SO many other things to do with our time than to stop and reminisce.

True, but when was the last time you both looked at what a shared picture meant in your lives? Recalling the details you start remembering things that bring fond memories of the event. You end up talking about more than the picture but rather what made it so important to remember. It's amazing how taking time to recall a common experience can actually renew your desire to take more pictures in life.

This same issue is true in our Christan walk. There are pictures in our lives of what Jesus has done that we have sealed in our hearts. Too often they are tucked away and almost forgotten. It's a biblical practice to remember and it is dangerous to forget. Even the Apostle Peter suggests the reason so many of us aren't growing as we should. We forget to remember. "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 We forget to look at the picture. The picture of our dying Savior who gave his life so we might live.

I don't want to ever forget that.

Be grateful for those picture moments in your marriage that you should take time to remember. But be even more grateful for the eternal picture of the love of Christ that will never fade and we should never tire of remembering.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Never Say Never

Good motivational speeches challenge us to "Never give up" or "Never stop trying." Yet when it comes to marriage we should be careful how we use that word.

How many times have you said or heard in your marriage discussions a sentence beginning with, "You never..."

Those absolute statements seem to trigger an immediate reaction of frustration. It can feel like you are an absolute failure. To be told you never listen, care, or try to understand seems to go to the heart of our pride. The discussion quickly erodes into a point-counter point argument. We no longer are listening but now are more concerned about defending ourselves.

The problem is that there often is some nugget of truth in those absolute statements. We are not as kind and thoughtful as we think. We can take each other for granted and excuse our laziness or sin. It can expose the fact that we don't really want to grow or change as much as we think. It hurts to change sometimes and some of that pain comes when we are told there is a level of hypocrisy in our lives.

Christian marriages should ideally be a place where healthy and mature sanctification occurs. Where you receive criticism and concern in the right spirit. And where you also give that loving rebuke in the Spirit of Christ. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." Proverbs 27:6 We are called to speak the truth in love and to receive it in love as well.

Never stop loving.

Never stop listening.

Never stop growing.

Never stop wondering whether I should start that sentence with "You never..."