Monday, 16 September 2013 12:52:00
This is a tough one. In Mark 10:1-9 some Pharisees ask Jesus, “is it lawful for a man to dismiss and repudiate and divorce his wife?” They asked this in order to test Him. The Amplified says to “find a weakness in Him.” They were always doing that. But Jesus doesn’t flinch. His answer: “What did Moses command you?” The Pharisees go on to admit that Moses did indeed allow a man to divorce his wife. Then Jesus zeros in on the matter. Yes, Moses did, Jesus concedes, “because of your hardness of heart, your condition of insensibility to the call of God.” But it wasn’t always so. “From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave behind his father and his mother and the two shall become one flesh . . . What therefore God has united (joined together), let not man separate or divide.” It’s clear that God doesn’t like divorce.
But why doesn’t He? And why is marriage supposed to be forever? Because when you ripe something in two that is supposed to be one, there is damage, there is pain, there is destruction. And this destruction and pain spill over onto not only the former husband and wife, but their children, their families and even their friends as so often times these people are forced to choose sides. Nobody wins here.
Let me say right off that I don’t judge those who are divorced because “there but for the grace of God go I.” Marriage is tough. I wager that most people who have been married for any length of years have been tempted to “call it quits” at one time or another, or at least had it cross their mind, however briefly. But I do say we need to discuss this topic openly and honestly because divorce in the Church is just as rampant as divorce in the secular world. And this should not be. If anything, the divorce rate in our churches should be much lower. After all, we have God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to guide us. But how to prevent it? For one thing, we need to be honest with our children. Prepare them for the realities of marriage and discourage living together before marriage. (Aside from it being called “fornication” in the Bible and frowned upon by God, did you know that the divorce rate for couples that cohabitate before marriage is much higher than the average rate? It’s true!) But most of all we need to stress that God must be in the center of their lives and to allow Him to pick out that perfect spouse for us. That means waiting. And most of us don’t like waiting for anything. And when we don’t wait, when we forge ahead and pick our own spouse based on looks, personality, position in life, etc, we could not only be missing God’s best, but we could be entering a relationship bound for serious trouble.
Remember how Jesus said the reason people get divorced is because of the hardness of their heart? Well, here’s the final blow. We all have hard hearts. Hearts that are, by and large, centered on us. We are selfish and want our way, that’s why marriage is so hard. It requires compromise, the giving up of our selves for another. Beloved, only Jesus can plow the crusty patch that is our heart. Only He can change us, give us a heart of flesh and enable us to truly live the life He desires for us, and that includes our married life, too. Remember, it’s “not by might not by power but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Until next time,
Sunday, 02 May 2010 19:14:00
After forty-three years my husband and I are still married. Oh, not because we’re more in love than anyone else, or that we have less faults, or that our lives have been free of the common bumps that foul everyone’s road. No, we’re still married because we’re tied as a three stand cord with Jesus—a cord not easily broken, and that means He’s not about to let us off the hook that easily.
Let’s face it, if the right buttons are pressed, we can all be selfish, mean spirited, petty. Being a believer doesn’t exempt anyone. We are, after all, still flesh, and flesh dies hard. But there’s noting like marriage to help the process. And after so many years, my husband and I are at a point where most of the time we calmly settle our differences by talking them through.
But there are still times when my dander gets up, and emotions get the best of me. I’m right. He’s wrong. It’s obvious. Only, why can’t he see it? When I get that way, I know it’s time to talk to the Lord. It’s something I’ve learned over the years, and something that works every time. I ask the Lord two things: to let me see the situation through His eyes. To let me see my husband through His eyes. What an argument killer that is! Inevitably, I begin to see another side of the issue. And I begin to see the stress or frustration that made my husband react in a certain way, or begin to understand the underlying reasons for his point of view.
I tell you, it’s turned my head around more than once, and taken the sting out of an argument, enabling me to humble myself and apologize. Nothing else floods my heart with love faster than this, or washes away the anger. I think it’s one of my most valuable tools in my “marriage wellness” arsenal. But notice, this is one sided. It doesn’t hinge on my husband seeing the “error of his ways.” No. No correction on his part is necessary. And that might rub some people the wrong way. It may not seem fair. But consider this. As soon as I show my husband that I understand his position, then he suddenly begins to understand mine. And suddenly there’s a meeting of the minds. I love how God works. His ways are so much higher than ours.
I don’t know why it took me so long to apply this to other areas, but lately I’ve begun asking Him to show me other things through His eyes too. Things like the hardships that come along in my life, the disappointments, the suffering. And it’s amazing how I suddenly see things in a different light. It often brings the “eternal” more in focus rather than the “now”. I still have a long way to go in this area, but I’m learning that here too, His eyesight is so much better than mine.
Until next week,
Monday, 07 September 2009 09:10:00
I went to two weddings this summer, weddings as different as the north and south, literally. One was a genteel Florida country club wedding, overlooking a perfectly manicured golf course that smelled of freshly cut grass. The other was at a vineyard on Long Island, sophisticated and high-energy, and faintly smelling of fermenting wine and musty cellars. The couples were on opposite polls, too. One could carry AARP cards if they chose; the other still held all-nighters with their college buddies. And yet as different as they were, the excitement, passion, and joy were constants.
And that got me to thinking about another kind of wedding, where the groom is invisible and the bride is a collective body, the body of Christ. And if we can compare the Church and Jesus to a bride and groom, so too can we compare their marriages. And this comparison can help us understand that peaks and valleys will occur in both.
I remember when I first came to the Lord. Oh, the passion! I wanted to tell everyone about Jesus. And as a “newly wed” I eagerly extolled the virtues of my Beloved. I never tired of speaking about Him. And because my love was a consuming flame, I tried to learn everything I could, what pleased Him, what didn’t. I poured over the scriptures, prayed often, meditated on the Word, even rising early to do it. But that’s how it is when you’re in love.
Then one day I woke up and realized the honeymoon was over. It was gradual in coming. In fact, I barely noticed it was happening at all. But I was spending less time in the Word. The things of this world had captured my time and heart. Busyness had set in. Responsibilities and time constraints had stolen the fire.
Any marriage more than a few years old faces the struggle to balance job, responsibilities, and outside interests with that of maintaining a quality love relationship. And when too much world seeps in, when too much work or other pressures dampen the fire like a spewing garden hose, it’s time to rekindle it. And the best lighter fluid is time. Oh, I know, this is nothing new or clever; just basic marriage 101. And though it may be basic, it’s not easy. Time is our one unrenewable commodity. We never seem to have enough of it. But “seem” is the operative word here. Because the truth is we always make time for the things most important to us. And in this crazy, busy world, I need that reminder. I need to remember that those things that are good can sometimes keep me from those that are best. After all, what’s more important than keeping the fires of love burning?
Until next week,