Not easy - but worth it!

My friend Jill and I started our summer reading series.
The topic? Marriage.
We read three chapters each week and then exchange our thoughts/convictions/responses with each other. It is always such a treat to be invited into the mind of someone as they dissect the truths of Scripture! And - incredibly encouraging!

Below are some of the quotes that really popped out in the first chapters. I hope they will inspire someone else as much as they inspired and challenged me.

➣ Chapter 1

“What if God didn’t design marriage to be “easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
And truthfully - this applies to every area of life.
Now that we have been married for over two decades, I can wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Not so sure I could have done so, or even really understood it in the early years.
Maturity and life experience definitely help us gain a proper perspective on relationships when we view them through the lens of Scripture.

“You won’t find happiness at the end of a road named selfishness.”
Every relationship falls under this truth. 'Self’ must disappear since we are called to die to it daily.
And He (Jesus) said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 

“Marriage: a setting full of opportunities to foster spiritual growth and service to God.”
Love it!
Absolutely TRUE!

➣ Chapter 2

“Romantic love has no elasticity to it. It can never be stretched; it simply shatters. Mature love, the kind demanded of a good marriage, must stretch, as the sinful human condition is such that all of us bear conflicting emotions. Marriage reminds us of the daily reality of living as sinful human beings in a radically broken world.”

“Marriage calls us to an entirely new and selfless life.”

“… much of the dissatisfaction we experience in marriage comes from expecting too much from it.”

“God didn’t design marriage to compete with Himself but to point us to Himself.”
I LOVE this!
Marriage can become an idol. Whether doing everything to please our spouse and neglecting Christ or seeking to have all of our needs met through our spouse rather than being satisfied in Christ, marriage can easily take over the throne of our heart.

➣ Chapter 3

“As long as a couple is married, they continue to display - however imperfectly - the ongoing commitment between Christ and his church.
In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.
If I believe the primary purpose of marriage is to model God’s love for His church I will enter this relationship and maintain it with an entirely new motivation, one hinted at by Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “So we make it our goal to please Him.” (II Corinthians 5:9).

“The first purpose in marriage … is to please God.”

“Strong Christian marriages will be struck by lightning - sexual temptations, communication problems, frustrates, unrealized expectations - but if the marriages are heavily watered with an unwavering commitment to please God above everything else, the condition won’t be ripe for a devastating fire to follow the lightning strike.”

“Our marriages can be platforms for evangelism.”
Such a wonderful perspective!
Marriage is not just about us! It strengthens us, matures us, and refines us, but like everything else in life, the main purpose is to bring glory to God.
If I think about my daily life with Dennis as a way to glorify the Lord, I will do everything better - with more joy - because I am doing it all for HIM.

 Chapter 4

“Once we enter into the marriage relationship, we cannot love God without loving our spouse as well.”

➣ Chapter 5

“Respect is a spiritual discipline.”

“Contempt is conceived with expectations; respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude.”

“When there is mutual respect in marriage, selflessness becomes contagious.”

“Jesus, the only perfect human being to live on this earth, moved toward sinful people; He asks us to do the same, beginning with the one closest to us - our spouse.”

Terrific chapter.
Like any other godly character quality, respect for others does not just “happen.” We must be intentional, seeking to love, honor, and respect our spouse on a daily basis - through the Lord’s strength - because it will not happen on its own. How could it? Our flesh wants to satisfy ‘self’ - not die to it!
“The problem with a living sacrifice is that it’s always trying to crawl off the altar!” - Charles Swindoll

➣ Chapter 6

“A magnificent marriage begins not with knowing one another - but with knowing God.”
How I wish someone had taught me and Dennis what marriage really means when we were immature, foolish, and engaged young adults.
We did not have godly, older, wiser, or mature couples investing in us or sharing their own trials and triumphs with us to help prepare us for what was to come, and we suffered because of it.
But God’s grace has kept us together day after day, year after year, and we know without a doubt that our 23 years of marriage has nothing to do with us, but has everything to do with the redemptive work of a Savior who cares about our holiness far more than our happiness.

Thank You, Lord, for standing in the gap to protect our marriage when Dennis and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing! Marriage is difficult. Two selfish, sinful people trying their best to love the other one better than him/herself - and failing often. The only reason we CAN love is because You loved us first, and best. Thank You for giving me and Dennis the desire to try, day after day, to love, respect, and serve one another. It is not easy, but it is worth it.