Friday, 17 September 2010

Marriage at the Macro Level

There is an old idiom that says, “I can’t see the forest for the trees.” In other words when you are looking too closely at a situation you need to step back and get a broader perspective.

I think this concept can apply to our marriages. I think it would be helpful if when we are vacuuming, disposing of a dirty diaper, mowing the grass, paying the bills or disciplining the children for the umpteenth time we remember that we have a much larger purpose than just existing day to day. Scripture says that “All things were created by Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). Every mundane chore and irritation of life has a much grander purpose when we keep the macro perspective. If we are able to step back from the trees and see God’s plan unfolding in us it can give us a perspective that gives meaning and hope in the daily grind.

God’s purposes for marriage include His redemptive plan for our lives. It is the daily irritations of life that reveal our hearts and the person who is standing closest to us when our heart is revealed is usually our spouse. In a strong loving marriage your spouse is able to gently help you see your blind spots and short comings out of a pure motive to see you become more like Christ because he/she knows and trusts that you want to grow spiritually. This is one of God’s macro purposes for bringing us together in marriage.

Another of His purposes is to create light in a very dark world. What can be more counter cultural today than a marriage that is filled with love and fun and laughter. Or a marriage that goes through the hard and painful times of life with strength and hope. Isn’t this what the world is looking for? Wouldn’t the world do a double take if the divorce rate in the church dropped to 1% instead of being the same as the world? Even if we personally can’t change the divorce rate we can see our marriage as an instrument God can use to create a hunger in those we know who do not yet know Him.

These are just a couple of ways to step back from the trees and see the forest that God intends to be a lush, green, refreshing place that glorifies Him.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ouuuuch That Hurts!

I don’t know about you but I do things that I know will not have a good outcome. For example I have a tendency to look up when I hit a golf ball, hoping to see the most miraculous shot of all times. In over 50 years of playing golf I have never, ever looked up and hit a good shot. I also know that if I surrender to my desire to have a triple chocolate cookie I will not stop with one. The next morning my scale says, “What were you thinking?” So it is when I read the writings of Paul Tripp, invariably I come away feeling as useless as half a hoola hoop.

In his book, A Quest for More, Paul writes, “It’s not just that we all tend to build our own little claustrophobic kingdoms, but that we want the people who are around us to keep the rules of our kingdoms as well…And the little kingdom (of self) definitely does not ask, ‘Have I loved God above all else and my neighbor as myself?’ No, the little kingdom only asks one question: ‘Am I satisfied with myself and my life?’ If I am satisfied with me, then all is well in the kingdom of one.” Then Paul asks, “Whom are you seeking to satisfy?” Ouuuch!

I hate this self examination stuff. It only hurts because it is accurate. I tend to hold people accountable for their actions but I on the other hand would prefer to be held accountable for my intentions.

We usually want our husband/wife to adhere to the rules of our kingdom. It is not that our rules are necessarily fair or unfair, right or wrong. But when our husbands/wives don’t play by our rules we can be disappointed and/or get surly. Oh but we have our ways of assessing a penalty. We may invoke the silent treatment or better yet withdraw. We may choose to nag or withhold intimacy. Or you may go for the big one – invite our mother to come and visit for three weeks.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:2-4) By putting the kingdom of God first we choose to humble ourselves and put our husband/wife’s desires ahead of our own desires. We are no longer consumed by getting our needs met but more aware of how we can meet the needs of those God brings into our path.

Monday, 13 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.