My wife’s and my anniversary is coming up next month. I met her when I was 18 years old, we dated on and off for almost eight years and then we were married in December of 1970. Yep, 49 years, almost the big 50! I deeply love my wife and all things considered, she is a gift that I don’t deserve.
The amount of time we have been together is considerable but even more important than the time duration is what we have learned along the way.
I became a Christian in my early twenties, a few short years before we got married. Ill equipped would be an understatement when it came to understanding what the Christian walk entailed and also what a marriage commitment meant. When I look back in retrospect on both of these huge decisions that I entered into, it scares me to realise how little I knew or understood.
Before we got married I had two primary perspectives to focus on. God’s perspective and my own. During the early years of my Christian walk, my own perspective was the prevalent perspective. I understood the essence of what was required, I just never really applied it on a regular basis. I had made the commitment to follow Jesus but when push came to shove, my needs and feelings still pretty well took precedence. The reason for that being, I did not understand or comprehend the real necessity of making Jesus my shepherd on a daily basis and that this entailed a real commitment. Then, just to make things more interesting, once I was married, another perspective rose on the horizon, that being the perspective of my wife.
Of these three perspectives, God’s perspective obviously takes precedence (Luke 10:27 NIV). He and He alone is the source of all goodness, it is His will and His ways and thoughts that we are to follow. Of course, in opposition to God’s perspective was my own self centred perspective. And, in concert with that conflict was the perspective that my wife had, which once again, too often clashed with my own self centred perspective. (Ephesians 5:25-28 NIV)
In the years that followed, sometimes, God’s perspective got placed to the sidelines and I focused on my perspective and my wife’s. As you can imagine, things didn’t always go well. And when God’s perspective was considered by myself and I tried to balance what I thought He wanted me to do, at that time, while at the same time trying to be responsive to my wife’s perspective, there were numerous times when I experienced difficulty trying to balance the three perspectives.
One of the biggest things that I learned was that humanistic love, in and of itself, isn’t always enough, because even though you can honestly love someone, our own humanistic deficiencies can actively destroy that love, through our own self motivated selfishness. Our love for someone else must be equal to or greater than our love for ourselves. And therein lies the problem, because, far too often, our love for ourself exceeds the love we have for another. When Jesus says we need to die to self, and pick up our cross daily, there is a reason for it. (Luke 9:23 NIV)
What I’ve also learned is that there are priorities and when these priorities are in the wrong order, needless difficulties follow. God, of necessity, does have to take top priority but this again has to be balanced with being responsive to my wife’s needs and feelings. And when children arrive, the need to balance family requirements, which includes all of their needs and feelings, makes that balance even that much more difficult. Last on the list of priorities is my own perspective, where my needs and feeling come into play. The short story is that the biggest problem I have always faced is me and that continues to this very day.
I know that none of this comes as a surprise to anyone who is a Christian, has been married for a good number of years and has children. I am also acutely aware that God’s grace, patience and love for us is the sole reason why some marriages survive and God’s love conquers over evil. My wife and I are a testimony to God’s grace, patience and love.
These are the basics, the tumblers that should be in the right order, to give us an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). I’m thinking our part is minimal and God’s grace, patience and love fills the critical and major parts.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!