I believe that so much of the concept that I had of marriage growing up was based on the American culture and “dream” of what marriage was supposed to be, rather than based on what the Lord truly created it for. I believed that the truest form of marriage began when two people, preferably very young adults, meet each and had an instant connection. They shared the same interests, they shared the same life goals, and they got alone well with each other. I further believed that having this type of relationship was a fundamental aspect of having a “successful” life as defined by American culture.
I totally bought into the story that true happiness and success would come if you married your high school sweetheart, got an education, worked hard, climbed the corporate ladder, built a home, had kids, had a dog, went on vacations, built a solid saving account, retired early, and traveled the world. If I could do all of those things then people would look at my life when it was over and say that I was truly a successful and happy person and they would desire to be like me.
That desire and philosophy, to work be a truly happy person that people viewed as being successful and someone that they would aspire to be like, was the driving force for much of my life. To me, if I wanted to have all those of things in my life one of the first and most important things was that I got married early in my life to someone who shared those same views. When I look back at this concept I can see one thing, I was a completely self-centered individual. I was capable of saying beautiful and wonderful things, which may have given the appearance of being a giving and sacrificial person to those around me, but ultimately, I always had something in mind that would benefit me. That may sound like an incredible self-centered approach to life and the reality is, that is who I was and more importantly for our topic, I viewed marriage as something that was supposed to be all about me.
I got married at the age of nineteen. For me, if I am honest, the best thing that came of this was the respect that I believed being a married man provided to me. I strived to project an image that the marriage was stable and that ever aspect of our lives was like a fairytale. We were from the same generation and shared many of the same interests and as a result we did get along well. However, deep inside and though I would have never admitted to it at the time, I knew that there was something very wrong.
When we got married everyone around us advised against it. Slowly as time went on those warnings and words echoed in my mind. All the while I continued to pursue worldly things, success, and the reputation that I believed was so important. From the exterior the family looked like a solid family unit based on Christian values. The foundation however was anything but.
Psalms 127:1, NLT
Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.
For fourteen years I was a builder of my own house. I believe I knew the Lord and I ever performed ministry for Him, however in my own home I had completely left Him out. From the very beginning I did not seek His guidance and His plan and I made my own decision to marry. I began to lay my own foundation and build on my own terms and according to my own plan and eventually that structure, that life, I had worked so hard for came down.
I believe that this is the true end result of a marriage that is not built upon Christ. Even if those involved stay together and try to stick it out, there will never be the true joy that can come only from the Lord and from following Him. There will never be the true intimacy that exists only between a man and women who God has created for each other and who put Christ at the center of their marriage.
After the marriage had ended I begin to realize how serious the consequences of not obeying the Word of the Lord are. It was during that time that I heard the Lord speak to me again. My father had told me that when I believed the time was right he felt that there was someone he wanted to introduce me to. I prayed about this and went back later to tell him that I felt a peace about it and I was ready to move forward. He showed me the picture of a girl and I immediately heard the Holy Spirit speak to me. It was almost as though I could hear an audible voice say, “behold your wife”. I knew this was the Lord leading me and I knew so closely the consequences that disobedience brought. The girl was beautiful to me and I immediately felt the Lord lead me to begin moving forward. Seven and a half months later we were married.
I know that this relationship was not my own doing. I know that this is not something that I have build or that I have made happen. It was the Lord that created us to be one and it is the Lord who brought us together. I can say that I sleep in perfect peace knowing that my house has not been built by my hand, but by the hand of the Lord. Because I have submitted my will to Him I have joy and love that I have always sought to have.
I would say these things to any couple who are newly married or close to marriage:
Has God told you that you are to be married? The world will talk about compatibility, lifestyle, preferences, culture, etc. and it will use these tools to tell a couple if they should get married. But, I believe that there is truly only one voice that matters when it comes to marriage, that is the voice of the Lord. If the Lord has told you to marry then marry, if He told you not to, then do not. You may share everything in common imaginable and have a good emotional feeling for someone but if God has said no, then the answer is no. I believe that the verse which states, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” deeply applies to the covenant of marriage.
Focus on your relationship with Jesus more than your relationship with each other. It can be very easy to be excited by your new marriage and as a result spend all of your time and energy focusing on each other. However, you should each focusing on seeing each other grow closer to the Lord before anything else. You will be amazed that as you each grow closer to Christ you will in fact grow closer together as a couple as well.
Be honest with each other in the same way you are honest with the Lord. It can be very easy to become afraid to let your spouse know the deep thoughts in your heart and mind. It may be scary to let them know about the details of your past and things that you have done wrong. However, everything you keep from each other and every time you fail to tell the truth, you are opening a door for the enemy to wreak havoc in your marriage. Share all things with each other and be open with everything that is going on in your lives and you will not grow farther apart but come closer together.
Remember to prioritize the things in your lives properly. Many people will interpret this as also putting the Lord as the most important part of their life. The “top step of the ladder” so to speak. However, remember Jesus doesn’t simply want to be at the top of your ladder of priorities, He wants you to give Him the whole ladder! Do not compartmentalize your life leaving Christ in one part only. Involve Christ in everything that you do and seek His will in everything. If you are going to move, ask Him to lead you. If you are going to purchase a car, ask Him to show you which one. If you having kids and are raising them, ask the Lord for wisdom and direction. If you are planning your work schedules, ask Him to show you what to do. Give Him every part of your life and let His will become your own.
Truly give unconditionally. Marriage has nothing to do with what you get out of it. Marriage is giving. Marriage is putting the needs and desires of your spouse above those of your own. It is sacrificing and pouring yourself out with absolutely no expectation or need to receive anything in return. You must make a commitment that your focus and your desire is to give yourself for your spouse no matter what happens in return.
Marriage is designed to represent the intimacy and joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus and when enter marriage according to His purpose and His plan it can be a relationship in which we experience exactly that with our spouse.