marriage

The Love of Marriage

This past weekend we had a bridal shower for my daughter. Let’s just say it was absolutely amazing! I feel like I can say that because I wasn’t the one who coordinated the whole thing. Actually, I had a very small part in it as the groom’s family wanted to bless Sarah and took care of everything. I did get to share a devotional and this is what I shared:

Marriage is an intensely personal thing. We know our spouse like no one else knows them: habits, moods, wishes, regrets, sins, giftedness…we get the inside look. The trick is to take that knowledge, the beautiful, the difficult, the work in progress, and to really LOVE our spouse. To SERVE each other. Not just the wife serving her husband, but the husband serving his wife, also; To know the truth and be faithful because of and in spite of it all. It is a privilege and a responsibility to know someone so well, and to commit to being faithful to them “until death do us part.”

There is a famous passage in literature that is a scene between a convict and a Catholic priest. It is from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Jean Val Jean is a man who stole bread to feed his starving family, and he was caught, convicted and became a hardened criminal through his years in chains. He was convicted because of a crime committed out of love, but the hardship and the hatred that surrounded him changed him into a frightening man.

When he is finally released from prison, he cannot find a place to sleep; his reputation as a criminal is made clear by the papers he is required to show at any inn in which he attempts to stay. Finally, a priest allows him to stay in his home, he shows gracious hospitality without fear. He allows him to sleep near the cupboard where the silver is being stored for the night, and he shows no need to protect himself or his property. Jean Val Jean steals the silver, and escapes into the night, only to be caught and returned to the priest’s home. When he is brought back, the priest declares that the silver Val Jean has stolen was a gift, and that the only problem the priest has is that his guest had not taken the candlesticks, also. They are so valuable, and they could be of such use to him in his new life. The stunned police leave, and the priest is left alone with Jean Val Jean. This is what he says to him:
“Jean Val Jean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”

Although we can’t BUY another’s soul, the priest was a beautiful example of love; he knows the criminal and his crimes, but he calls out to the man with love and it changes the man’s life. We all need to be reminded of our true identity, our identity in Christ as new creatures, reminded of the fact that God calls us Beloved and that we are clothed in righteousness. It is so easy in the pressures and mess of life to forget who we really are. As a married couple, we have the privilege of seeing one another day in and day out, we really know each other’s habits and behaviors, when those things reflect Christ-likeness and when they don’t. But even when they don’t we know who God says they are. We can remind them of their real identity. LOVE them as the priest loved a hardened criminal, without fear or self-protection.
1 Corinthians 13, the chapter on love, says in verse 7: LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. May you give to one another a love that knows and bears and endures through it all.

This gift to you is this candle. Candlelight is an amazing thing. It creates romance, it hides the laundry pile that we didn’t quite finish, it softens wrinkles and bad hair days, it creates a soft glow that is beautiful. May the candlelight set the stage for romance, may it create soft light that radiates beauty. Let this candle remind you, above all else, of Christ’s light, but also Jean Val Jean’s story. May you believe and hope for each other, calling out in each other your true identity as a Son and Daughter of the King. May that bring you great hope and an anticipation that He is doing a great work in each of you, in your marriage, and in your future together.

Adapted by Christine Landis
original by Diane Miller

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marriage

Day 29 Prayer: Covenant of Love

We have been on a journey of praying for our marriages and families. Today we are going to look at love.

1 Corinthians 13 is called the love chapter for good reason; it shows what love is. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

When we look at these verses, we can immediately see how we fall short. But, if I were to replace the word love with God because God is love, (1 John 4:8) we see that God is able to do all these things. For instance, God is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, etc. Best of all, He never fails.

The exciting thing is that the more we abide in Christ, the more we become Christlike, thus making us capable of loving our spouse and others the way it is described here!

The word covenant means contract, bond, or promise. Many covenants have been in the Bible. God made a covenant with Noah and Abraham. There was the covenant of the law, but now we are under the new covenant that forgives our sins and we can go directly to God through Christ, which enables us to one day be His bride! (Hebrews 7:12, Hebrews 9:14-15) God made this promise long ago in the garden with Adam and Eve. He was going to fix the mistake they made. He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. He was going to send His one and only Son to die a brutal death, for us. It was painful for God, but He knew it would be worth it in the end.

If you are finding it difficult to love your spouse or anyone who has wronged you, go to God and ask for Him to give you the ability to love them. It’s starts with being humble and crying out. Its recognizing where your heart is. Do you have a heart of stone? He can replace it with a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

I have seen marriages turned around because one person was willing to start praying for the desire to even want to love their spouse. Love doesn’t give up. It keeps hoping, it keeps praying, regardless of how long it takes.

Day 29 Prayer: Covenant of Love

Thank God that He provided a way for us to be with Him forever.

Pray for the ability and the desire to love your spouse and kids the way it is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

If you haven’t done so already, memorize 1 Corinthians 13, so when evil thoughts arise, or you find yourself responding rudely to your spouse or kids, you will be reminded of these scriptures and react appropriately.