Friday, August 28, 2009

To Be Sober Part 3 - The Purpose of Marriage

"Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite" - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

I have to be honest, nothing has been more challenging in my 16 year pilgrimage with the Lord than my marriage. Marriage can be very wonderful, but more often than not, we do not warn of the pitfalls of marriage, and young people go in with high expectations of fluffy bliss. I know I did. I ignored the crazy statistics out there of almost 60% of marriages ending in divorce. When I first got married and things started unraveling, I felt so ashamed and alone because other couples, especially in churches, seemed to be in a piece of heaven. What was wrong with us? As I get older I'm starting to hear real stories from real women, and we and our husbands are just normal sinners sharing the same roll of toilet paper. If only we as older women would be honest with younger women and share our experiences good and bad, how it would equip, encourage and even save marriages. Titus 2:3-5 are not suggestions, but a mandate. I only had one woman in my early marriage who was a pastor's wife that came and asked me how things were going. I lied and told her things were fine. She shared briefly that she had been married for many years, and for the first five it were very difficult. I remember coming away from that conversation so relieved, but I needed more mentoring.

I’m convinced if I would only get it right as a wife, everything else would fall into place. I’m not going to tell you with hypocrisy that I have arrived, or even try to appear like I have all the answers; only God has all the answers given to us through His word. The reason why I share what God has taught me is not only to help those who need it, but to also review and challenge myself. I desperately need help with the natural tendency that we all have as women to rule over our husbands (Genesis 3:16); whether we would do that in dominance, or in a manipulative martyr way. I have a long way to go to being a woman of God. It seems I would do well for a while, then things can go awry before I would blink.

I was saved a year before I was married, and I thought I was so spiritual. I was over the moon for the Lord, life was good, sin no longer had the dominion over me like it did, and I could see the Lord working in my life in so many areas. I was reading my Bible every day, going to church with my Grandma, praying, telling others about Jesus and singing Hallelujah; then I got married. For the first time in a year, swear words flew out of my mouth at my new husband. (This problem is no longer by God's grace.) This is a man I made a covenant with before God in His sanctuary in front of over a hundred witnesses promising to love and cherish for the rest of my life. Talk about a wake up call that I was not the sanctified self righteous princess I thought I was. I was so ashamed. We went through years of arguing, until we withdrew into quiet despair. After about five years, I found myself in bed weeping uncontrollably for four days. I fell into a deep depression.

I managed to get out of bed, but the hopelessness of just hearing the alarm clock and waking up seemed daunting. What will this day bring? Is it going to be a day of more emptiness, heartache, rushing, fighting, dirty socks on the floor, etc., etc., etc? For the first time in my life, even a day at the salon would not cheer me up. Things I once enjoyed seemed like just another task. I remember this time about 10 years ago, going to a salon and telling the lady to do what she wanted, and that I didn't care. It almost seemed in the woman’s eyes she knew. She seemed to take extra care with me as she stayed silent to cut my hair. I’m a very relational person, and I just sat there stone faced. I needed a good year of biblical counseling, and a Titus 2 Bible study to help me get through all of that. God is so good in so many ways; it would take a rather large book to write it all out. He really is the Good Shepherd.

Perhaps you can relate in some way. God knows, and has never left or forsaken you. You may be going through pain much worse than anything I have ever experienced. I want to encourage you with a verse on the reason for marriage if you’re a Christian. Here it goes…

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” Romans 8:28-29

Most of us know this verse, but rarely do we apply it to marriage. I heard a preacher say that more often than not, God will give us a mate that is not compatible. When we think of Christ we think of His ability to forgive and His unconditional love. God will use what it takes to teach us unconditional love. How can we ever learn to love unconditionally if our mate meets all of our conditions? We are being conformed to His image and that should be an encouragement. He is the Potter and we are the clay. Praise God!

Once I came to a place where I realized that I deserve nothing outside of His grace and His salvation is more than enough, my perspective started to change. God revealed to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

I find myself reminding myself time and time again of Paul's prayer that I not only have been saved from the Hell I deserve, but bought and purified by the blood of Christ, and given more grace by being adopted as His own. If you think of that, all we could do is rejoice. On top of all of that, He blessed me with a wonderful husband and children.

If your husband is not regenerated by the Holy Spirit, I know that is a lonely road. I was there for the first 15 years of my marriage. If you've been a Christian for very long, I'm sure you're familiar with the verse in 1 Peter 3:1 "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior." If you catch the first part of that verse, "In the same way", it refers to the previous text in 1 Peter chapter 2 as it mentions submitting to authority and being a bond servant to Christ to "silence the ignorance of foolish men" through your obedience. Also it refers to Christ's example during His crucifixion..."and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;" 1 Peter 2:23. I would encourage you to do a study on 1 Peter chapters 2 and 3. He doesn't ask us to be nailed to a cross, but He does call us to take up our cross and follow Him. Some are called to suffer not only conform us to His image, but to give us the privilege to represent Him as He sanctifies us.

1 comment:

  1. In this area a book of Martha Peace was very helpful for me.