Tuesday, May 31, 2011

90 Years Of Life

My Mom turned 90 this past weekend. She still has a sharp mind and reasonably good health for her age! She was surrounded by family and friends and was obviously enjoying the blessing of seeing her heritage. Children, grandchildren and 5 great children!

As she reflected on this milestone she would often say, "I never thought I would be this old one day!" The thought of outliving family and friends was not in her plan.

She has seen a lot and been through a lot.

Psalm 90 is an appropriate reflection by someone who also outlived many of his peers. Moses said many good things in this brief Psalm that are worth remembering, "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations...For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past...So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."

So what does this have to do with our daily routine in marriage?

What would a marriage look like that had it's dwelling in the Lord from the beginning? It would look like a couple who increasingly valued each day and lived it as though it were the last. Not in a morbid fear but with gratitude. It would be a love that, "...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." I Corinthians 13:6

To number our days is to not take them for granted. Although we can't assume our tomorrows we can rest on the promises of God today. Promises like John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." or John 16:33, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

My friends if you have trusted in Jesus and are living for Him let it be seen today in your marriage so when people talk about you when you are gone they will talk about a couple who had God as their dwelling place and numbered their days for Jesus' sake.

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Got It Wrong

The world didn't come to an end after all. Harold Camping was so sure.

He got it wrong.

It has to hurt in more ways than one to be so sure of something you would even bet your life on it only to find out you were mistaken. It rocks your world and in this case ruins your reputation. Who would ever believe him again?

It is pretty amazing how we can get so consumed by ourselves and our take on things that we become blind to reality. We are SO sure of what we perceive that there is seemingly no room for correction. We work so hard building our airtight case that the views and advice of those closest to us are discarded because "they just don't get it."

The same dynamic happens in too many of our marriages. It's most clearly seen when it's too late. Statements like,"You never..." or "You always..." are simply another way of saying, "You Got It Wrong." Little things become huge barriers that make a case for each to give up learning and loving, instead we become focused on winning. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that my husband or wife will never understand me so we build our case on that premise.

One of the hard lessons that Bev and I learned early on in our marriage was that there were not as many issues in life worth going to the wall for as we thought. In other words, our petty differences were not the problem but our pride. We were more concerned about what divided us rather than who united us. By God's grace we learned to listen, love and forgive.

A verse that has become increasingly precious and practical to us is from
IPeter 4:8, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." Isn't that to be the hallmark of the followers of Christ? Those who are quick to forgive and to be more concerned about the other than themselves? Jesus wants us to always remember that because he died for us he took our wrongs and made them right. That's got to be more important than our obsession to be right.

To truly trust in Jesus and live daily for him is what is right. And won't it be an overwhelming blessing when we see him face to face after our struggles to hear him say "Welcome home - You Got It Right!"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Who's Leading Who?

If we are honest much of our marital struggles are around leadership. Who makes the decisions and why? I think this and you think that. Now what do we do?

I remember a pastor friend describing a time he had with a couple who were having serious struggles in this area. The husband in particular was accusing the wife of not submitting to his authority and always challenging him. The pastor asked the couple a simple question, "Who is the head of this home?" to which the husband quickly replied, "I am!" He then asked the same question again and got the same response. After asking the question several times the pastor finally responded, "the head of this home is no other than Jesus."

As professing Christians they had obviously lost their own focus. Jesus is first and foremost the one who is to do the leading. His call and command is to follow. Not to question his integrity and wisdom but to submit to his call.

So what does that look like in our marriage? Does the husband lead in all things and the wife follow or are there other options?

Who's Leading Who?

The beauty of a Christian marriage is that it is not primarily about each other and who is doing what but rather about Christ and what he has done. A Christian counselor said about his counseling Christian marriages that if they would be as concerned about the honor of Christ as much as they were about their roles he would not see half the couples he sees.

Our marriage to Christ is far more important than our earthly marriage and Jesus makes it clear what he asks for, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:27

When was the last time you asked Jesus, "What do you want me to do today as a husband or wife?" Yes, the confusion is real and the struggles legitimate at times but what is the filter that determines my reaction and commitment?

Keep talking to each other about how to make those decisions and to trust each other in the process. Just be sure to remember that the ultimate question is not "Who's Leading Who?" but:

"Who's Leading You?"