Monday, 6 September 2010

If God Can Change Nineveh

Francis Chan was reflecting on the Book of Jonah. He was taken by the miraculous change of heart that came about in the city of Nineveh on the very first day that Jonah delivered his message. The bottom line is “with God all things are possible.”

Perhaps you and your husband/wife are struggling. You are staying together but living parallel lives. The spark that once existed between the two of you has gone out. You are civil to one another most of the time, as for intimacy it is a thing of the past. You may have lost hope that things would be any different. This is not the life that God intended for you.

The king of Nineveh urged his people to “call urgently on the Lord” and the Lord “had compassion on them”, and He will have compassion on you. The people of Nineveh were called upon to repent. This is a good place to start. Pour your heart out to God; ask him to forgive you for those areas where you have failed to be the husband/wife that God has called you to be. Be very specific. The next step is for you to go to your husband/wife and ask them to forgive you, again be very specific. This will most likely be one of the most difficult things that you have ever done but it may very well be the beginning of God’s redemptive process for your marriage.

From Good to Great

There was a very good business book out a few years ago by Jim Collins entitled Good to Great, The premise was that while there were many good companies there were certain characteristics of great companies. Great was measured by predetermined criteria and the results were sustained over time. One might suggest that marriages could be examined in a similar fashion.

Lisa Kift, a Marriage and Family Therapist, wrote an article entitled “The Characteristics of Successful Relationships.” Most likely if the following ten are found in abundance in your relationship you have a good marriage. The ten are: (1) friendship,(2) humor, (3) good communication, (4) chore sharing, (5) satisfying sexual intimacy, (6) affection, (7) the absence of John Gottman’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse (see post of 8/5/10), (8) mutual and separate friends, (9)reliability and (10)relationship vision.

So what could possibly be missing from the list? You did ask that didn’t you? In my opinion for a marriage to go from good to great it must glorify God. A marriage must be built on a covenant commitment, i.e. we are in this for the long haul. A marriage must be built on total trust and honesty. For a marriage to significantly move the needle on the “Marriage Richter Scale” the partners must treat love as a verb; they must be willing to put the other first.

A couple that has God at the center of their marriage handles conflict in a much different way. They view disagreements as a way of learning more about one another, as a way of arriving at a decision that honors both parties and brings glory to God in the process.

When God is at the center of a marriage the difficulties that are certain to come will not have the devastating affect that such difficulties often have on marriages where God is not at the center. Unemployment, for example, can have a huge impact on a marriage. Not only does it squeeze a couple’s financial resources but self-confidence and security can be shaken. Shame, blame, guilt and anger surface along with underlying worry. If God is at the center of the couple’s marriage they recognize that in the cosmic scheme of things God is still in control. They have the peace that comes from trusting Him. Most likely they are not totally worry free, but they support one another and encourage one another and pray for one another.

A good marriage features all the interpersonal skills you can bring to bear and the application of much of the wisdom that can be found in hundreds of books on the subject. A great marriage is one that adheres to the principles laid out in Scripture, which brings sustainable joy to the couple and brings glory to God.