Friday, 30 September 2011

The "Babe"

You need not be a baseball fan, nor do you need to be old enough to remember Babe Ruth, just know that he was one of the greatest home run hitters in the history of the game. The following came from Family Life’s “Moments for You” series.

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Babe Ruth

I can’t attribute this story to its source, but a number of years ago I read a story about Babe Ruth. At the end of his legendary baseball career, the Babe had become obviously overweight. During one of his final contests, he bungled several fly balls in the outfield and struck out weakly with every plate appearance. Fans who had seen or heard about his once-proud exploits were now quick with catcalls, mocking this man who had hit twice as many home runs as anyone else in baseball.

But as the jeering got louder and louder, a little boy leaped over the railing and onto the playing field. With tears streaming down his face, he ran to the Babe and threw his arms around the legs of the fading athlete. Babe Ruth reached down, picked up the boy and hugged him tight. Then setting him down and patting him on the head, they walked hand in hand toward the dugout, while the jeers turned to cheers. Hardly an eye remained dry in the whole place.

The crowd had been correct in their assessment, of course. The Babe had let much of his athletic prowess go to seed. Yet a little boy had remembered him for who he was . . . and had covered over his errors with love.

This is not unlike what marriage was established to be—two people saying to each other, “I know you’ve failed me and disappointed me at times (as I have you), but I’m still going to put my arm around you and tell you, ‘I love you.’ I’m on this journey with you one way or the other.”
We who call Jesus Lord and Savior are blessed to be loved by Him unconditionally. His love for us is not based on performance. And even though we have failed Him and disappointed Him, He never stops loving us. This is what a covenantal marriage should look like, since marriage is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and his bride – the church.

Assuming that you and your spouse are relatively the same height why not throw your arms around their neck (I also assumed throwing your arms around the legs of your loved one could be awkward) the moment you see them tonight and tell them how much you love them?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Where Did We Go Wrong?

One of the most common questions posed by married couples in distress is “Where did we go wrong? In most cases it is reasonably safe to assume that you didn’t start off “wrong”, there must have been some attraction, presumably the courtship included some memorable occasions, and most likely you spent more time talking to one another than you do now.

A well known marriage expert weighed in with what he believes to be the three most common reasons that couples begin to question whether or not they are right for one another. The first he cited was “loss of trust”, sometimes brought on by an affair or the discovery that the loved one has been secretly involved in pornography. A second reason is “growing resentment”. This can stem anywhere from in-laws to computer games. Lastly he mentioned “insecurity”. Children who are products of a broken home, someone who has had several failed relationships, or the loss of trust can bring about a feeling of insecurity.

While I would be the last to disagree that these are some of the most common reasons given by married couples who are struggling, I would be quick to disagree that these are the real issues. Every one of us is a sinner. Practically every one of us has baggage and expectations that we bring into our relationship. Every one of us is self-centered. What do you think you are going to get when two self-centered, baggage carrying, expectation driven, sinners unite – a blissful marriage? Think again.

Any of the above reasons given by couples for doubting the stability of their marriage can be addressed by a counselor. In some cases you might receive enough help to revive the marriage. The operative words are “some” and “might”. The real problem in every case is an issue of the heart better known as sin.

So whether the husband has lied to his wife about why he is spending so much time on the internet; or the wife who was raised by a single mother is constantly afraid that she too will be abandoned; or the husband is resentful because his children receive all of his wife’s energy and affection the underlying problem stems from a heart that has distanced itself from God. It is a heart that is looking for satisfaction in the wrong place; a heart that doesn’t accept that God can supply all of our needs; and a heart that wants its desires met.

Go to a pastor, a Biblical counselor and/or open God’s Word and apply it. Amazing things can happen when we take our problems to God and ask Him to give us the peace that transcends all understanding.

Monday, 26 September 2011

What Comes Out When You Get Squeezed?

As part of our morning devotionals my wife and I were reading something written by Joni Eareckson Tada. She made a comment that I thought had a broader application.

She said, “I think that I am a very likeable individual. But when pain continues to squeeze me, it’s like squeezing a lemon! Out comes this sour attitude, this pessimistic anxiety, this fear of the future. That’s when I have to realize that these are things God desires to change in me.”

Joni was specifically referring to physical pain. But whether it is physical pain, or emotional pain, or just frustration it can still produce in us a sour attitude. We can feel as though we are lemons being squeezed. It is what comes out of us when we are being squeezed that differentiates us from Joni Eareckson.

This reminds me of Matthew 15:11 that says, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.” Jesus goes on to say, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

By combining the beautiful transparency of Joni with the wisdom of Jesus we can see that the pain or frustration can be likened to the food we eat. At times when I have tasted frustration, pain or stress I have responded by saying and/or doing things that would be not bring glory to God. What comes out of me at these times is a true reflection of my heart. However I have a choice. Like Joni I can use these difficult moments to ask myself “what would God have me learn as a result of this trial, how would He have me respond and what is He trying to show me about my heart?

Over the years I have learned that God never wastes pain, it can always serve a purpose, though at times His purpose may remain a mystery. If I get irritated at something someone says or does, I must ask myself why? Chances are that I need look no further than James 4:1-2 which tells me clearly that my irritations and frustrations are a result of me not getting my own way.