Genesis 2:24 (NIV) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."
The large open field nestled in the woods of my youth leaders home. The small creek in the background and the bright sun that greeted us. Friends and family gathered to share the occasion. The horse and carriage escorted me across the open field where I descended into the arms of my two dads. I reached the front of the white lattice arbor to be honorably greeted by ten groomsmen down on one knee and my groom with a smile the size of Texas. These are only a few memories I hold in my heart from this glorious day.
Sixteen years ago today on July 15, 1995, I entered a covenant relationship. Yes ma'am, he swept me off my feet. We both said "I do" and exchanged our vows and rings. With a twinkle in his eye and tears of joy in mine, we walked down that aisle with love in our hearts.
Months of planning are put into a wedding. Details are just right; the cake, tuxes and dresses are ordered, invitations sent, reservations made, decorations bought, and flowers arranged. It is interesting how much time and effort we willingly put into the wedding ceremony; but what about the marriage? Great marriages don't "just happen." Behind the bouquets, lace and fruit punch is a myriad of two backgrounds and ideals coming together as one; it takes more than just "wishing" for a good marriage.
Perhaps you are married, single, divorced or widowed. Maybe you have witnessed or experienced more than one of these as a child or an adult. Wherever you are on the continuum there is no mistaking that marriage is a covenant relationship established by God and inaugurated with Adam and Eve.
Paul uses marriage to illustrate Christ's love for the church in Ephesians 5:25, (NIV) "Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy."
Christ loved the church by laying His life down for her so that the best could be brought out of her. As a part of Christ's bride, we understand the significance of this sacrificial act. He was willing to empty Himself for the good of the church, His bride. In the same way, the husband is to seek to sacrificially love his wife by emptying himself and serving her. Christ didn't lead by domineering, but by caring and cherishing. This is how a husband ought to treat his wife.
Verse 33 exhorts wives by saying, "The wife must respect her husband." Love and respect are foundational principles for any marriage to thrive. Just as a wife desires unconditional love, the husband desires unconditional respect. Unfortunately, most wives don't understand this fact or simply refuse to accept it to the detriment of their marriage.
My marriage hasn't been perfect, after all, we are two very imperfect people. There have been times when I have regrettably disrespected my husband, withdrawn from him physically and put unfair expectations on him. Many times these have been due to selfishness, insecurity as a woman and my own lack of spiritual maturity.
Despite my humanness I know God's desire for marriage. Because I am driven to please Him first I strive to honor and respect my husband, teach and train our children in truth and keep Christ, the foundation of our marriage, first and foremost in my own life. I don't expect anyone else to do these things for me. These are not lofty platitudes friends. For me, these values have become intentional choices I must make each day in order to experience a thriving relationship with my husband and with God.
Perfect marriages don't exist, only restored ones. Time, commitment, daily surrender, forgiveness, unconditional love and respect are necessary for a healthy marriage. This does not mean we are exempt from struggles, disagreements or desert experiences. Being determined to work through them, to exert the time and effort needed, will ensure victory for us and defeat for the enemy! Marriage is a wonderful opportunity for man and woman to reflect the glory, grace and oneness of God. When a marriage reflects the glory of God it gives the world a correct estimation of who God is!
So, what do you say?
I say, . . . . with all my heart, "I still do."
Do I understand how important my relationship with God or lack of relationship with Him impacts my marriage?
How healthy is my marriage? How can I extend forgiveness, unconditional love or respect to my spouse?
Am I committed to do whatever it takes to love my spouse and have a godly marriage whether or not my spouse reciprocates? Why?
Am I willing to be responsible for my contributions, good or bad, to my marriage?
Does forgiveness, unconditional love, unconditional respect, humility and prayer characterize my marriage?
Evaluate how your relationship with God contributes to your marriage.
Consider the strength of your foundation. Which building blocks can you better implement for a healthy and godly marriage?
Heart Changing Word:
Matthew 7:25 "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Romans 8:12 "Brothers we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live."
Hebrews 13:4 (NIV) "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure."
Ephesians 5:21 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
Ephesians 5:33 "The wife must respect her husband."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.