Saturday, February 9, 2013

The foundation of our Savior in marriage

"All the self help methodologies in the world cannot help you, unless you repent.  It is like thinking that the solution to a house full of garbage is to go in and polish the silver…that is not the solution and it will not work. Nothing but repentance and forgiveness solves the problem, and when you do that you have a place where you can begin to rebuild on the right foundation, the foundation of our Savior and have the life you stopped thinking is possible." ~ Steve Wilkins

My husband and I are in our 20th year of marriage.  Besides Jesus, he is my best friend and my favorite co-conspirator in life's grand adventure.  Loving God and loving people together is our family mission motto. But we mess up in a myriad of ways ~ when love gets twisted, pain, frustration, distrust and anger quickly enter as unwanted guests, often bringing other undesirables with them.  Steve Wilkins is right...self-help methodologies are not the answer.  Yet how often do we turn to them?  How often do we make one small compromise after another in our marriages, learning to stuff the pain and begin a life of coexistence, a businesslike relationship at best, letting the friendship and joyful love God intends for us slip away?

When there is trouble in marriages, the tendency seems to be to stop listening to each other.  We tend to nurse our own hurts. The story we tell ourselves about the other can get quickly skewed as we dig through our filing cabinets of past sins (forgiven though they supposedly were) and build our cases.  So God in His kindness often sends friends our way.  There is a reason Psalm 141:5 is in the Bible:  "Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it."  I memorized that verse early on in our marriage because it never quite "feels" like a kindness to be order to count it a kindness, I have to trust God (in contrast to my own reasoning, self-justifications, and feelings).  I have to be willing to hear those who love me as His messengers when they challenge something I am doing or saying.  My experience is that they have usually been right, and I have needed to repent.  God has shown us great mercy throughout our marriage, moving us to repentance quickly.  We have friends who have spoken the truth in love to us, and we have grown in thankfulness for their kind strikes over the years. 

Maybe there are areas where you could use some encouragement. There are a gazillion resources available, and I have read many of them.  Some are much more helpful than others.  There are 3 (a book, a sermon, and a sermon series) that I highly recommend.  Sometimes books and sermons can be like friends, kindly striking us.

The book ~ What did you Expect?, by Paul David Tripp.

The sermon ~ Forgiveness in our Marriages, by Steve Wilkins (This is a segment from a series he gave on marriage at a church camp this last year in all means, feel encouraged to listen to the whole series, but this one in particular I found to be incredibly good stuff, and applications can easily be made to relationships in general too).

The sermon series ~ an eleven part series titled "Real Marriage," by Mark Driscoll, available free for download here. Father, give us ears to hear! I intend to listen through these again. Excellent!

We want the next 20 years to be even better...more grace-filled, more fruitful, more joyous as we serve our Father together.  A number of friends have recommended Timothy Keller's book The Meaning of Marriage.  A fresh copy just made its way to my "soon to read" pile...I'll keep you posted.  Of course, the best resource of all is God's Word which is the basis of the instruction the above mentioned teachers offer.  May God give everyone who is married the desire to honor Him in their marriages, and may we avail ourselves to the helpful teaching He's graciously made available to us.

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