Friday, 10 December 2010

The World is God's Theatre

In a recent article in World Magazine Marvin Olasky used a very interesting phrase. He said “The world is God’s theatre and our classroom.” That got me to thinking which doesn’t come all that easy.

To expand on Olasky’s analogy it would mean that God wrote the script of this one act play called life. He wrote the beginning and the end. He wrote the plots and sub-plots and He knows how the story will end. He wrote the part that each and every one of us would play. He is directing and  producing the play. He is the casting Director, deciding who will get exactly which part. He didn’t require try outs because he created us to play the part that we have been given. He gave us the looks, the intelligence, the gifts, talents, skills and abilities that would enable us to play the part successfully. He designed the sets, i.e. He constructed the world inch by inch to His specifications. The oceans, the placement of the equator, and all the land masses are arranged just the way He wants them for now.

Not only is the world God’s theatre but it is our classroom or acting class to carry over the analogy. It is where we learn the skills required to play the role we have been given. It is where we can learn more about what the Director expects of us. It is where we can rehearse our part, learn our lines and get into the character that the Director /Writer created for us.

So what does this have to do with marriage? First I’m becoming more and more convicted that most of us don’t understand or acknowledge who God really is. If we were an actor desperate for work we would do almost anything to even try out for a bit part. The fact that we have been personally chosen by the Director, Producer, and Casting Director should make us desirous to please him in every way possible. He intentionally wrote us into his play. How can we argue with Him about the role He designed for us? It is out of gratitude, respect, love and awe for the Director that we should want to do anything He asks of us, even if it means putting our spouse’s needs above our own.

When we approach Him with the humility and reverence He deserves we will play our part well even if it isn’t the part we would have chosen.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Eyes Wide Open

In Paul Tripp’s latest book What Did You Expect? his chapter entitled “Eyes Wide Open” provides some interesting insight as to how a onetime seemingly good marriage can go bad. He suggests that we have to locate the “potholes” in our marriages that have the potential of bumping your marriage out of alignment. For those of you unfamiliar with the term pothole, they are the large holes in the roadway that when driven over by your car might put your wheels out of alignment.

The first culprit is “visual lethargy”. This occurs when we fail to see the good in our partner that once was so obvious to us. From the sparkling eyes and great smile to the sense of humor or unexpected kindnesses that we now take for granted, we simply don’t notice some of the things that we so cherished when we first married.

Another robber of marital bliss is “habit inconsistencies”. Perhaps when you first married you spent much time together, talking about everything. You vowed to never let the sun go down on your anger. You were quick to forgive and to be appreciative for thoughtful gestures. Perhaps the man still opened the car door and the wife went out of her way to prepare something special. Now there is minimal conversation, going to bed angry is the norm, forgiveness is no longer requested or given and the last time a car door was opened Nixon was President.

Laziness is another contributor to the demise of a marriage. Marriage takes work and it requires attention. Just as we would regularly maintain an automobile so too we must do those things that keep our marriages running smoothly. Regularly scheduled date nights, an occasional love note placed somewhere strategic; flowers for no good reason, a specific time set aside each week to just talk and a thoughtful gesture are some of the ways to keep a marriage from going stale.

We are reminded throughout Scripture that we have an enemy. He doesn’t appear in a red suit, with horns and a pitch fork. He encourages us to work late nights at the office at the expense of our family; he makes us feel guilty if we take time for our marriage instead of taking our children to every event and activity imaginable; he goads us on to getting overly committed, overly tired, and always feeling in a rush and frenzy thus affecting our mood. He finds imaginative ways to drive a wedge between you and your spouse such that you begin to live parallel lives. The intimacy goes and the little annoyances that never bothered you are all of a sudden a big deal.

We are in a war, let’s open our eyes and see that the enemy is not the one lying next to us in bed.

Monday, 6 December 2010

God Doesn't Make Suggestions

One of my favorite writers is Doctor Bob Snyder. He heads up the International Health Services organization and is author of Lessons Learned on the Journey. (www.lessonslearnedonthejourney.com)

Recently he wrote:

"Early in my life I learned a valuable lesson – to distinguish between a suggestion and a command. Initially I did not understand. I learned quickly when my parents disciplined me for interpreting a command as a suggestion! A command was non-negotiable and my feelings or my circumstances were not to be used as an excuse.

Treating the commands of God as suggestions is not wise either… Ignoring God’s commands also comes with consequences."

While there are many verses in Scripture that can be applied to marriage there are a few that are specifically designated as such. 1Peter 3:7 commands husbands to understand their wives; and the Book of Ephesians, verse 5:25 commands husbands to have the same love toward their wives that Christ has toward His Church. Wives too are given a specific command, that to respect their husbands. (Eph. 5:33b) 

Now I am not suggesting these commands are easy to carry out. What one husband would call respect may differ greatly from what another would consider being esteemed, admired, and honored. How one wife would describe what it looks like to be loved unconditionally as Christ loves His Church and to be truly understood by her husband might look totally different from one woman to another.

Back to Bob’s point, these are commands not merely suggestions. Here’s what boggles my mind. Thousands of Christians seek marriage counselors, read self-help books and spend millions on divorce attorneys every year. I venture to say not one of these people tried to apply God’s commands for 60 days. Now I’m not against reading a book on how to be a more effective communicator, or going to a Christian counselor to learn how to glorify God in the midst of a conflict. But if God gives us a command and we choose to totally ignore it why should we think that our marriage will go well or that some other source of information is going to be superior to the Word of God. “Ignoring God’s commands comes with consequences.”