I am so excited to continue this blog into a new year – this is a first! We have 364 more days to traverse together, God willing. Before launching forward, I want to share a December moment that I hope will be a blessing to you. Ironically, this moment of the recent past has become a springboard in my life for a better future. So perhaps this Christmas post does have a rightful home here today as I pray the same encouragement for you.
This Christmas was our first time using our new advent candles (via a recent post). I really didn’t know how this would work out, and felt like I was bucking the system making up our own.
Turns out, we have had more meaningful conversation surrounding these candles than any other year ever. On the 4th Sunday, we lit the 4th candle, the red candle of love.
We asked the same question around the table, Anyone have a story of love they’d like to share? My husband, Bruce, spoke up, I’ve got one.
He continued, looking at our children, Your mom and me. She’s the only one for me. Over two decades ago, she accepted me just the way I was – failures, flaws and all. She was way out of my league. I am still amazed that she chose to love me, but I’m glad she did.
I listened, then added with a contemplative smile, That’s funny, because I remember it very differently. I couldn’t believe you wanted me! I was such a mess. I was a broken person with a shattered life, who felt very unlovely and unlovable. You were my knight in shining armor. You swept me off my feet – especially in your Air Force uniform.
Two people. Two very different stories about the same love affair. How could this be?
There was one common denominator that went far beyond our starry-eyed love for each other. It was God’s love for us – and still is. He is the God who saw our whole lives, and purposed to intertwine them together. We have always loved each other, but it is God’s unending love for each of us and for our marriage that is the foundation, the glue, the common ground on which we stand – even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye or momentarily dislike one another.
We read 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter, and we see what we strive to be to one another. However, when I look at our marriage through God’s eyes, I see His vision for us, as well as where He implements this passage in our relationship.
God is 1 Corinthians 13 to us because God is love (1 John 4:16 ). Knowing He has our back gives us strength to show love to one another.
God gave up His only Son out of love for the world. Each December, we begin the reflection of this great sacrifice at Christmas as we walk Jesus’ timeline on this earth. We do this every year in honor, remembrance, and celebration.
Spouses can have this same love in their marriages as well. Whether it is as Christmastime, New Year’s, or any of the other 363 days of the year, we can light God’s light of love in our relationships. We do this not in our own strength, but in His.
God is for marriage – the way He intended it to be. God is for His children who are the husbands and wives that make up the millions of marriages in this world. It pleases Him to see men and women living in healthy, loving, covenant community with one another.
If you’ve come to a point in your marriage where the light seems all but extinguished, hope is elusive, and warm hearts have turned cold, seek God first. Ask Him again to be God of your marriage.
He is the tie that binds when we are frayed and frazzled.
I look back at the beginning of “us” and am in awe at how differently Bruce and I saw the beginning of our relationship. Both broken. Both flawed. Both dependent on God alone to guide us by His mighty hand.
We’ve called on that same hand for twenty-two years. To hold. To warm. To lead. To sustain. It is strong enough to carry any load.
Because we have been forgiven and set free from our sins, as believers, we have total freedom to love each other as Christ loves the church, even as we still wrestle with our carnal natures.
It will always be a mystery to me that God can take two broken people and create one whole marriage. I’ve never been good at math, but how does 1 + 1 = 1?
Scrapping the math book (gladly, I might add) I turn to the Bible for the answer.
“Haven’t you read,” (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” ~ Matthew 19:4-6
I believe with all my heart that one of the main issues tearing marriages apart is that husbands and wives fall into the trap that in an argument, touchy topic, or whatever threatens to divide, there must be a winner and loser. In a marriage, if there is both a winner and loser, both people lose – and so does the marriage.
We must daily remind ourselves that we are on the same team. I know. I’ve been both the winner and the loser and neither position was productive in our relationship.
When we take sides, we divide what God declared as one entity. This only leads us farther down the wrong path.
As 2013 begins, may I challenge each of us to examine our relationship with God, with our spouses and all of our relationships? Are we loving others as He loves us?
No matter how wonderful or not our marriages are today, there is a whole year just waiting to happen. We will ride the highs and feel ran over by the lows. Today. Today we must decide what our plan will be. That begins with God’s plan.
Whether you are married, engaged, or seriously dating, one New Year’s resolution worthy of doing (not just making) is to pray for these relationships, release our control of them, submit to God and His plan, and love as Christ loves us and gave Himself up for us.
Let’s make this year, 2013, the year God has full-reign in our hearts, minds and actions for His glory and our good – and all of this begins at home.
What do our relationships look like from God’s perspective? Read with me 1 Corinthians 13 as God Himself sets the example for each of us to follow…
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
God’s grace, peace and blessings to you this new year,