When Mike and I got married he or I messed up our vows - not enough for anyone else to notice. Anyway, Mike has always teased me that he could get out of the marriage because of that. He also likes to pick on me saying that when he said, "I thee wed" he really said, "I be dead." A real comedian, huh? I remember I had the word, "obey" taken out of our vows. Obey sounded so harsh! I also kept my maiden name hyphenated with his name.
As Mike and I celebrate our 31st anniversary I find myself thinking of what anniversary really means. My first thought is of gifts and getaways. Sometimes it means you have raised two daughters who you love and are so proud of. Sometimes it means you have persevered through the tough times. Sometimes it means the diamond he put on your finger last year and said he was more excited buying this one than the one 30 years ago! Sometimes it means building a prosperous business. Sometimes it means we were struggling financially. Sometimes it means we made it through sickness. Sometimes we made it through health without knowing what a blessing health is! Sometimes it means hearts breaking. Sometimes it means mending hearts. Sometimes it means full hearts. Sometimes it means burying your parents. Sometimes it means devastating news. Sometimes it means great vacations together. Sometimes it is just sitting in God’s beautiful creation together. Sometimes it is just being comfortable sitting together quietly. Sometimes it means tough seasons. But all the time it means we are in it together!
As I think about our upcoming sermon series on Encountering Jesus, I am reminded of how Mike and I have made it through the highs and lows of marriage. We could not do this without encountering Jesus! The biggest blessing in our marriage is that there are three in our marriage. We don't always show that but we do know it. With Jesus we can go through the tough times and come out stronger! We have been through things that many people would have split up over. I thank God for His grace that helps us every day. God has blessed both of us and our marriage with His grace...over and over!
My thoughts have changed so much through the years - maybe I gained a little wisdom along the way. I still like my maiden name. I don’t introduce myself with both names but I always write it. It’s my name and I am proud of my family because I come from good stuff. However, today I would confidently say, "submit or obey". Before my girls, and many of you, have a fit, please finish reading. Ephesians 5:22-23, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
Wives, if your husband is trying to love you like Christ loved the church, then you have nothing to worry about! He will be a godly man and not "boss" you around. The verse is for the women so it is hers to obey and not his to demand. Spiritual leadership means that the husband has the burden of responsibility. It is not for him to do what he wants to do. It is empowerment for him to do what he ought to do. Paul explains that submission in marriage is a gift God designed to help us grow and become more like Him. He is not diminishing our worth but inviting us to reflect Jesus in how we submit to that leadership.
The Bible tells women to honor and respect their husbands. Ephesians 5:33, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Men gravitate to the place where they receive honor and respect. While studying this, over and over, I saw that if we treat our men with utmost respect they will want to live up to what we see in them. Marriage thrives in an atmosphere of praise.
Long-lasting marriages don’t just happen. They need a maintenance plan because constant maintenance is required. You need a plan in place from the beginning. Our first plan was that divorce was not an option so we knew we had to work. (Although I do believe there are times when divorce is needed.) Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." There are things we both just have to get over or bitterness and resentment will take over. We need to cover each other's faults and focus on the strengths.
Anniversaries are about honoring God for what He has done. Think about how God has brought you through. God can help us love our spouse as Christ has loved us. We need to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." Thanks be to God!