Thursday, January 07, 2016

What God Has Taught Me Through Marriage

Today’s post is a continuation, in a way, of the one from yesterday. Someone once pondered out loud to me, “Why do our spouses marry us and then try to change us?” I have heard this question posed before but it was not until recently I had an answer I thought fit. It is my opinion we are not the same person in marriage as we were before it. Therefore, there is going to be change. A player who is drafted into the NFL has important qualities yet cannot continue completely playing as he did before, he becomes part of a new team and has to adjust accordingly. I believe it is fair to say the same or something similar can be said about marriage. A team is formed and as the saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Though, of course, there is no need to lose or forget oneself completely.

I have grown deeper in my faith and have a stronger connection with God since I got married. Here I am going to discuss a few of the first things that spring to mind that God has taught me.

This one is HUGE and the #1 thing God showed me when I asked. I came to a point in my marriage in 2010 when I did not know what to do next or where to go from there. God’s answer for me was prayer and He sent my prayer warrior aunt, who I love dearly, to show me how it is done! Among many things, she bought me a book, How to Pray by R.A. Torrey. The book was really just supplemental to what I learned from her, in person. And, she is an amazing woman of prayer! I could spend all day, 7 days a week/ 365 days a year, in prayer with her and Jesus!

He is my Provider
No matter what, God has provided! When my husband and I were living paycheck to paycheck, were flat broke, and had no idea how we were going to buy groceries or pay our next bill, a check would show up in the mail. When we got hit with a large, unexpected expense, once, my husband’s bonus had been twice what he expected and was more than enough to cover the debt. These are only two examples of countless ways the Lord has provided for us and our children. He always does! No matter what!

His Timing is Perfect
This is the area in which I struggle the most! I have a hard time just “being still” and waiting on God. But He has taught me His timing and His ways are perfect, even though I may not understand! There are countless times when I beg and plea with Him in prayer but do not see an answer or hope. That, of course, does not mean nothing is happening! I just do not see it, myself, at the time. However, I am repeatedly reminded of this truth!
10 “Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10. ESV.)

I Can Do All Things Through Christ
As I touched on, yesterday, I am a much stronger person today than I have ever been! Further, that strength comes from Christ. The truth,
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13. ESV.)
is another one that has been shown to me time and again. And, I do not boast in myself but rather in the Lord!
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10. ESV.)

Service to Others/ Dying to Self
God’s instruction is very diverse in that we learn in many different ways. Perhaps an example could be the time Jesus was on a boat, resting, when a storm arose and frightened the passengers. They woke Jesus and He calmed the storm even though they had nothing to fear because He was with them. I am sure that is a lesson those individuals never forgot. Likewise, I feel God continues to teach through experiences and consequences, though mainly through His word.

Dying to self might be a difficult one to learn.
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:20-21. ESV.)
What in the world does it even mean? It is my opinion “dying to self” means putting away foolish pride. Not always, often, or ever having to be right. Not always, often, or ever having things my way. Not always, often, or ever having the last word. It is taking no offense but instead placing those ruffled feather feelings in the back seat and letting love, empathy, understanding, forgiveness, and tolerance along with wisdom drive. It is, as I mentioned yesterday, putting Jesus first, others second, and myself last.

I echo what I said, yesterday, in that
I read, somewhere, church is "a hospital for sinners"...and marriage is made up of two sinners. Further, that sin could be ANYTHING ranging from lust to deceit, from ungodliness to hatred, from gossip and/or slander to drug abuse and/or alcoholism, from selfishness to adultery, from pride and/or discontentment to verbal, mental, and/or physical abuse, from worldliness to a lack of self-control. All sin is "big sin"...just a tiny drop contaminates everything!

With that said, selflessness and wisdom are HUGE in marriage. Biblical men are called to love, as they would their own body, and lead their wives and families whereas biblical women are called to "help", like the Holy Spirit, and respect their husbands. Both rolls are VERY important and it is HARD, relentless work! I, personally, can see how an unequally yoked couple could, and most likely will, become overwhelmed and exhausted from battling sin. Selflessness, wisdom, service and forgiveness are essential!

Being a Good Steward
I have always wanted to be a good steward of all God gives me. But, I believe my marriage has enhanced that even more and I ask God for the means to be able to assist those who are in need. Mainly, I focus on the “widows and orphans” but I also respond when God makes others known to me, as well.

Working very carefully with finances takes great effort. What should be spent? What is better to save? How much goes toward tithing? And what about investing in one’s retirement? Rich or poor, the struggle is intense!
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”… 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:26 & 30. ESV.)

I was a lost sheep leading up to and when I got married. I had wondered off but, as promised, the Good Shepherd left the rest of the flock to come get me. And, through my marriage, He has drawn me closer to Him than ever before.
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7. ESV.)
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