Archive for May, 2013

I am soon to give my daughter away in marriage. Even as I write I feel a little of the turmoil Steve Martin portrayed in the movie “Father of the Bride”. I have no qualms whatsoever about the young man she is marrying.  Michael has proven himself to be fine young man… hard-working, polite, a good sense of humor, humble, honest, loving… all the things you hope and pray for your daughter.  He has treated Christin with the utmost respect and has already practiced the honoring and cherishing that all men are supposed to do toward their wives.

No, the thoughts that occupy my mind are not that Christin and Michael aren’t well suited for each other.  It is simply that one of the primary relationships in my life will undergo a major change… and change by definition contains huge elements of the unknown.  The moment I told Michael that he had my permission to marry Christin, I knew that things would never be the same in our family.

Now I am not in any way averse to change.  Change is an essential dynamic.  The only way to improve anything is to make changes.  I recognize that the quality of end results are greatly influenced by making the right changes at the right time in the right way.  Marriage is one of the most significant of life changes and, as I have seen in my family, it can be the greatest of experiences propelling us to a life of joy, faith, and love through any and all life circumstances.  For Michael and Christin I want to capture a few of the most important lessons I have learned over the years.  I pray these thoughts will be an encouragement for you as you begin your new life together.

Honesty in Love – Paul tells us that speaking the truth in love is one of the hallmarks of believers.  Honesty is a trust-building quality.  Love is a respect and relationship building quality.  Trust and respect are foundational to a healthy marriage.  The foundation is the first part of a building to be constructed.  It creates the stable footing that the building rests upon.  A poor foundation results in an unstable building.  Going back to correct a poor foundation is a difficult and painful task.  Get this right from the beginning.

Communication – Consistent, effective communication is another essential.  It is possible to be married and not communicate well, but you cannot have a great marriage and not communicate well.  If I continue the building analogy then communication is like the electrical systems within a building.  A building can be inhabited without electricity, but it is a lot darker and less suitable than one that has functioning lights, HVAC, appliances, etc.  To communicate well we begin by realizing that it is more than just the words we say, but how we say them.  We must become a student of our spouse and learn how to read them.  And we need to look at ourselves and understand how we communicate.  We must read the verbal’s and non-verbal’s accurately.  Is what I am saying truly coming through?  Given the many inputs my spouse is picking up, am I giving a clear and consistent message?  The foundation of honesty is never more important than when working through conflict and challenging situations.

Faith – A few years ago I would have said a shared faith is THE foundational element.  I’ve come to believe that this is God’s desire for a marriage, but He is able to bring this about when we work toward a great marriage.  This is one area where the foundation can be repaired by the Master Builder with amazing results.  Having said that, faith still is at the top of the list of essentials for a dynamic marriage.  There are a number of things that we do to build our faith – study the Holy Scriptures, Pray, attend worship services together, be joined with other believers in smaller, more intimate groups.  All of these are excellent and effective in growing our faith.  But on top of all these must be a consistent sharing of faith between husband and wife.  For faith in the marriage to blossom and grow it must be in the context of the husband and wife intentionally praying for and sharing what God is doing in their lives.  We must seek to become the husband or wife that God created us to be and then walk closely with our spouse in the process.  In some cases one spouse is in the trial more intensely than the other, but the burden is borne together.  At other times it is a fully shared trial.  This is the time to lean on the community of faith (and we all must have a community of faith to belong to).  But much of the time we will not be in a specific struggle.  These are the times to celebrate and accept the good life God has given us and look for ways we can help others.

Laughter – A sense of humor is another essential ingredient to a great marriage.  I am not referring to the ability to remember and tell good jokes.  A good sense of humor is simply the ability to see the world, and especially ourselves, in a light-hearted manner.  There are many challenges to be faced in life.  Marriage adds complexity to our life which brings many benefits, but also increases the number of challenges we will encounter.  We cannot focus solely upon the challenges and tasks before us without taking time to smile and laugh along the way.  Our health – emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual, is impacted by the tightness we grip our life situations.  When we give our lives to the Lord, we give up control.  If God is sovereign and Jesus is Lord then there is nothing that impacts your life that He has not allowed.  Obviously if we put ourselves into difficult situations, if we walk counter to the way we are called to live then we will have some work to do.  But even in this God is faithful to forgive us if we turn from our sin and return to Him.

And that brings up the final key for a Great Marriage – Forgiveness.  I would like to have magic words to say that would prevent you guys from ever having a bad day, saying something you shouldn’t, or just plain missing the mark.  But life doesn’t work that way.  God lives with us in the midst of life and in the midst of life we sometimes stumble.  God offers forgiveness so that we can get up when we stumble and continue to walk and grow in Him despite our failings.  This is essential between a husband and wife as well.  Forgiveness is a divine gift from God that is able to work like a big eraser.  Faithfully given, faithfully accepted forgiveness is able not only to release us from the grip of a besetting sin, but it is able to propel us into a more vibrant, joy-filled marriage and life.

Marriage is one of the primary examples of God’s relationship with us.  In a number of places the Church is called the bride of Christ.  Jesus gave His life for His bride.  This depth of love and commitment is beyond what is humanly possible.  Thankfully we don’t have to settle for humanly possible.  God has called you to life in Him which goes way beyond humanly possible.  He desires that His children walk in and reflect His love consistently… constantly… confidently.  In your marriage you are give an opportunity to do this in a most enjoyable and wonderful way.  Join yourselves in the Oneness that God has called husband and wife to and immerse yourselves fully in the God Who loves you more than you can ask or imagine.

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