Read His Words Before Ours!
“I now pronounce you husband and wife . . . and now present to you, Mr. & Mrs. Brad Daniel.”
[Audience applause as we joyfully exit the church]
Oh, how sweet are the memories of that day! We believed the best in each other, couldn’t imagine what could possibly ever come between us, had no idea that someday we’d have to actually work to make time for each other. And we certainly couldn’t imagine we’d ever be so angry with, indifferent toward, or deeply wounded by one another. We were embarking on a journey full of mystery, knowing and becoming known, memories, and the true meaning of the vow, “til death do us part.”
Marriage is a gift. How sweet that our Father has established a relationship so intimate, it provides a glimpse of the most intimate relationship of all, God’s relationship with His people, His Church.
I don’t remember the night I met Jesus as my savior as clearly as I’d like, but I do recall wanting to make sure I knew Jesus. I didn’t understand a lot of the Bible at the age of 10 or 11, but I knew Jesus loved me and had sacrificed Himself for my sins. As a child, I couldn’t grasp the gravity of my sin and the costliness of my salvation, I knew I wanted to follow Him with all I had . . . I just didn’t know what that meant.
We love them.
We dream about them.
Everything seems fresh and fun as we begin to learn something new, whether it’s in marriage or our relationship with Jesus. We start off with stars in our eyes as we experience new love and speak of “forever” as if it’s clearly visible to us.
One of my favorite ways to serve with my husband is to meet couples for pre-marital counseling. It is an honor to walk with an engaged couple, helping prepare them for marriage.
In counseling sessions, we work through various areas in the relationship possessing the potential for conflict, and provide tools to navigate those areas well. We encourage intentional communication and potential resolution before little problems become big ones. We also affirm areas of strength and encourage the couple to keep communicating and working together.
Song of Solomon paints a picture of two lovers, completely enthralled with one another and willing to do whatever it takes to be together. Song of Solomon 2:15 advises them to “catch the foxes” before they ruin the vineyards. Foxes are known for being cunning, sly, and destructive, an enemy to the vineyards, not only eating the grapes, but gnawing and digging, destroying an entire vine.
What a great analogy when applied to the marriage relationship! In the beginning, everything is new and fun and effortless. It is then we should begin to prepare for the possible “foxes” to creep in, small and seemingly innocent at first, taking just a few minutes of our time or attention, but if left unattended, potentially destroying the relationship.
Relationships require quality time and attention. My husband and I encourage engaged couples to find a recreational activity they both enjoy, and to use its intentional pursuit to provide relaxation and something different to look forward to doing together.
To sustain any relationship requires time. Our culture tends to value busyness, so our spouses . . . or Jesus . . . can get the leftovers of our day if we are not intentional in planning and honoring our time together. We all need time alone together to remember the specific reasons we love each other, and to nurture the unique friendship marriage brings.
Distractions come in all forms, including electronic devices, children, and careers, as well as our own pursuits or selfishness. Most of these are not inherently evil; we just have to hold them in proper perspective.
One of the most familiar distractions in our society is the cell phone. I know I am guilty of mindless media scrolling, as my husband is in the room with me, neglecting prime time together. Instead of pursuing genuine connection, I look at the lives of others, comparing myself, my life, and my marriage to those on the screen. This has the potential to evoke jealousy, insecurity, and irritability.
In addition, our scrolling habits tend to rob us of time we could be spending with Jesus, allowing His presence to guide our thoughts and actions. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8-9 to think about what is true, honorable, lovely, and worthy of praise. When we begin comparing and focusing on what we lack, we abandon lovely thoughts toward our spouses, or the truth about ourselves.
Marriage was created by God and is GOOD. Good marriages serve others and each other, out of the overflow of being strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we spend time with Jesus, we are filled with His perspective, strengthened by His Word, and able to bear good fruit. (Galatians 5:22-26)
Empowered by God, we see the needs of our spouses, and set aside the time necessary to invest in and nurture the relationship. We are able to prevent cute little fox kits from destroying an entire vineyard. With vigilance and intentionality, prioritizing time with both God and our spouses, we can help the vineyards of our relationships to flourish!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!