Recently, Deanna and I were watching one of those late-night talk shows where high profile actors, singers and athletes highlight their latest film, song or championship feat. On this particular night a well-known actor, married to the same man for 21 years, was asked how she could be married to the same man for so long. In an age when the national average is about 8 years, hers had lasted 20+. What was the secret for her long-lasting, seemingly fulfilling marriage to another actor? Deanna and I could not believe her answer. She said she didn’t know-maybe it was just good luck. We looked at each other and laughed! Good luck?
Having been a pastor for almost 30 years and married to the same woman for 32+, I can tell you from personal experience that healthy marriages don’t just happen by chance. It requires a lot of hard work, patience, sacrifice and most importantly-humility. To do it the way God intended, it especially requires a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You can’t share a life with another person under the same roof in the same bed sharing the same checking account and not encounter conflict. It’s inevitable! And dealing with the conflict in a healthy way requires a whole lot more than good luck or chance. The kinds of conflict husbands and wives encounter on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis requires an overcoming type of love that can only come from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In order for any marriage to be long lasting and fulfilling, a man and woman must die to themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Jesus. To my knowledge, no man or woman, husband or wife looks forward to hanging on a cross with Jesus. Our basic instinct is to preserve our rights and protect our egos at all cost. The problem however is that pride and humility cannot play on the same team. Unbridled pride destroys marriages but unconditional love preserves, equips and restores them. And the only way to give unconditional love is to receive unconditional love from the God who created us. As God’s love becomes real to us in the person of Jesus Christ, His sacred love becomes our identity. We find that we have the ability to do what we could not do before. We begin experiencing an ability to overlook faults that need to be overlooked as well as addressing issues that need to be discussed, but in a loving way. As husband-and-wife both look to Jesus as the source of their life and identity, they in turn can serve one another as God intended. Though no marriage is perfect, a man and woman’s love for a perfect Savior can pave the way for a sacred love from heaven to make its mark on earth. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 3.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Your Brother In Christ,