Jump Start # 2703
Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”
Our focus yesterday and today is upon marriage. Our fortieth wedding anniversary is tomorrow. There has been a lot happen in those forty years. Our journey has not been unlike most folks. Lots of memories. Good times, stressful times, and several just plain everyday days. Four kids, ten grandchildren, with number eleven on the way, eight different houses, too many cars to remember, and a multitude of faces that have crossed paths with us. We’ve buried those dear to our hearts. We shed tears of joy at weddings. We’ve sat in hospital waiting rooms in the middle of the night. We’ve had to put beloved pets down. We’ve fussed at our kids, worried about budgets, and prayed a thousand prayers.
Twice God draws from marriage as illustrations of great spiritual concepts. In Ephesians, it the relationship that Christ has to the saved that is illustrated by a husband and wife. In Revelation, our passage, it’s the invitation from the bride that welcomes hearts to Christ.
Forty years of marriage and one ought to know something. Here are a few of my thoughts:
First, it’s easier to preach about marriage than it is to live it. We know the principles, concepts, and what God expects from us. It’s hard putting those things into practice. Golden rule, grace, forgiveness are not once in a while concepts, but are the platform upon which we walk every day. Every day. And, those days when we choose not to walk that way, life gets hard. Words are said that shouldn’t have been. The relationship can become like two porcupines trying to hug each other—it’s hard.
Second, one never stops learning, growing and doing. Never. You learn about yourself. You learn about the other. You always do. And, the more you understand and learn, the more you love and the better things become. Love through the years becomes richer, stronger, deeper and more important, than anything else. You stop thinking so much about yourself and your thoughts and energy is focused upon the other. Some days, just sitting beside each other and looking at nature is one of the best things ever. Nothing has to be said. You’d rather do that than anything else.
Third, you only let bug you what you let bug you. When my little grandchildren are with me out in the flower garden, they’ll see bees, worms and all kinds of creeping things. They’ll scream and take off. I tell them every time that a bee won’t bother you unless you bother it. And, there’s a lot of similarities to marriage. You can focus on what irritates you and allow the other person to bug you, or you can let those things go. Love, we remember, does not take into account a wrong suffered is how it’s defined in Corinthians. Love doesn’t keep track and forgiveness doesn’t remember. Some people bug people on purpose. I see those videos about practical jokes. Sure looks funny when it is happening to someone else. But when it happens to you, suddenly it’s not so funny. Love puts yourself in the other person’s shoes. Making fun of someone, especially your mate, may be funny to you, but it may hurt their feelings or even hurt their bones. Little things go along way in a day. Picking up things on the floor. Putting away dishes. Helping out. That not only shows your interests in things, but it lightens the load for the other person. Just get in the habit of doing good deeds, all the time.
Fourth, the more and more you draw closer to God and the more and more your mate draws closer to God, it will naturally draw each other closer. The concept of a triangle is that as each side gets closer to the top, the two sides are drawn close to each other. It’s that way in marriage. The best thing you can do for your marriage is for you to get as close to the Lord as you can. I know someone who just went to a wedding. His words, “I’ll give it three years at the most.” Everything was wrong. It’s a train wreck ready to happen. He sees it. And, what’s missing the most is God. He’s not there. Booze is there. Offensive behavior and language is there. Selfishness is there. Three years may be too optimistic for that disaster. Some people just shouldn’t get married. They are not in the mindset of caring for others. Your spouse ought to be helping you get to Heaven. Your spouse ought to pull the best out of you and encourage you to be your best. In this way, marriage honors God and illustrates Jesus and the church. And, you need to be helping your spouse get to Heaven. You are helping each other. You are looking out for each other. You want the best for each other.
Forty years with my sweet Debbie. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful, blessed journey. Lou Gehrig in his famous farewell address at Yankee stadium said, “I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It hasn’t been luck, but the blessings of the Lord.
Paul began his famous declaration of love in Corinthians by saying, “love is…”. And, it is. Love is joyful, good, kind and sweet, if you want it to be. Love is.