Friday, 10 February 2012

Who Can Rescue You from You

I’m going to assume that God has a fairly good grasp of human nature. It was God who inspired James to write “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1)

If you and your husband/wife are struggling is it possible that your expectations for marriage are not being met? Expectations start out as desires. Are you unhappy because your husband is totally inattentive and he treats you like the maid? Is his version of date night an evening with the kids at ChuckECheese? Does he seem to care more about watching sports than spending time with you? Are you unhappy because you thought your wife wanted to be intimate as frequently as you did? Do you feel as though you are a home improvement project, that your wife is always nagging you? Do you resent that all the attention you used to get seems to be directed at your children?

So the question becomes why is this happening? Is it possible that your desires for your life don’t fit God’s plan for your life? Perhaps you are “kicking against the goad”. This expression usually refers to a donkey that kicks against the cart to which he is attached, only to discover that he is kicking against a sharp object that has been mounted to the front of the cart. Needless to say the donkey doesn’t do that very often. God may be using the difficulties you are experiencing to bring you to the end of yourself, to make you seek Him and His plan for your life, to bring you to the realization that you are kicking against the goads.

His plan will require that you become other-centered instead of self-centered. It will require that you serve one another, put his/her deal ahead of your deal. It will require yielding your desires and expectations to God’s.

Giving your heart to God, getting on the same page and seeking His will for your life will make all the difference. Your marriage will experience a joy that you may have never known, an intimacy richer than you can imagine and a love that will continue to grow. There will still be some difficulties to be sure, but you will be facing them together with a totally different perspective.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Grace Card

The other night my wife and I watched a movie entitled The Grace Card. It will never go down as a classic, must see movie but it had a very good Christian message. And while the actors will never win an Oscar there were some memorable scenes. The reason I am writing about this movie at all is on the basis of one line toward the end of the film. “God knows what lessons we need to learn and He supplies the teacher (s)”.

If you were like me, you were an average student and reasonably obedient. Most of us respected our teachers, even though we tagged them with some unflattering names. And did what we were asked to do, particularly in my era when the teacher could apply the bottom of a tennis shoe to my gluteus maximus. In fact if my memory serves me correctly, though it rarely does these days, I learned the most from those teachers who I considered the strictest. I had a French teacher who scared the mess out of me and an English teacher who I was convinced had a broom parked in the teacher’s lot. They were two of the best teachers I ever had.

Quite often the teacher God chooses to use today is my wife. After all who knows better what lessons I may need to learn, who knows better whether or not I am doing my homework, and who knows better whether or not there has been a permanent change? And because my wife loves me, she grades on the curve.

Here’s the point – I know you were hoping I would get to it sooner or later. Wouldn’t it make an incredible difference in your marriage if you viewed those annoying habits of your spouse as a message from God that He is trying to teach you something? Wouldn’t life be much easier if you viewed your differences as being in a learning laboratory where those differences were there to make you examine your heart?

To be sure God uses other teachers, i.e. illness, unemployment, broken relationships, demanding bosses, etc. Sad as it may be, most of us learn more in times of struggle, disappointment and hardship. But the sooner we recognize that God has a purpose in our pain and we seek to obey Him, the sooner we “might” experience relief and His grace.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Tic Toc

Love is patient.1 Corinthians 13:4

Dennis Rainey offered the following insight which could serve us all well on many fronts.

I’ll be the first to admit it: When I go places, I like to be on time. Punctuality is a big deal to me. I am usually not obsessive about it, but I think it says something about your character and about the value you place on the event you’re attending or the person you’re scheduled to meet. That’s just me.

But it’s not Barbara. And on a few occasions in our many years of marriage, whatever character I thought I was displaying through being on time was more than cancelled out by the character I revealed through my impatience and angry words directed toward Barbara and the kids when they ran a little behind my schedule.

Cookie (that’s my pet name for Barbara) is an artist at heart. God has wonderfully wired her with imagination and originality. But numbers just don’t add up in her abstract mind. As a result, being punctual is a challenge for her. Fifteen minutes either side is considered an on-time arrival. Close enough. It simply doesn’t faze her.

I chuckle when I recall one of the greatest moments in my relationship with my father-in-law, Bob, who was an engineer. He said to me, “Dennis, all these years, you’ve arrived late to every one of our family gatherings. I always thought it was you. But as I sit back and think about it, I realize I was wrong. It’s not you. It’s my own child.” I smiled! There is justice!

But you know what’s not right? I have occasionally let punctuality become more important than people. I’ve lost sight of the fact that human relationships are more valuable than any human expectations of structure. And even though being on time may be important to me, it’s not more important than my wife and kids.

It is better to be a little late and still be in love.
It is not just impatience with being late that affects how we treat our loved ones; it is anything that conflicts with my desires, expectations and perceived needs. That can range from wanting peace and quiet when you return home from work to how money is spent or saved. When we get frustrated, irritated and/or agitated we must follow the example above and examine our own heart first to see what is at the core of our negative feelings. When we get to the point of checking our own heart first, we are well on our way to a marriage that will glorify God.