Friday, September 20, 2013

God's Design for Marriage

Tim and I are in our 4th semester of leading a marriage small group at our church.  God called us into the marriage ministry just over 2 years ago, and we love it.  We have experienced redemption and restoration in our own marriage and want to encourage other couples to believe God for the same thing in their marriages.

In your opinion, what is the purpose of marriage?

I'd be willing to bet that most people would answer that question with something about having their own needs met...wanting to be loved and have companionship through life...doing life with someone you love.

None of those reasons are wrong.  In fact, I believe God designed us with those desires.

However, God is the only Meeter of those needs.

No spouse can ever fulfill those things for us perfectly.  And if we put our hopes and dreams in our spouse to meet our needs, we will come up dry.  As humans, we are sinners, right?  We fail.  We let others down.  We are selfish creatures.

If you are a follower of Christ, do you believe Him to be true to His Word?  Do you really trust Him with your life?  With every nook and cranny?  With every emotion of your heart and every detail of your relationships?

God promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deut. 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.") He also said in Mark 10:9 concerning marriage, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

He will not call us somewhere and then leave us there without His guidance.

You may ask, "How do I know that God joined my spouse and I together? What if I married the wrong person?"

Zig Ziglar said it well: "I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I'll be the first to admit that it's possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you."

The Art of Marriage proposes that marriage is not primarily about you, but that the ultimate purpose of marriage is to reflect God's image.  Gary Thomas, in Sacred Marriage, suggests that the purpose of marriage is to make us holy rather than happy.

Ouch...that hurts.

The good news is the God I love has nothing but greatness in store for me! He designed me to serve and worship Him.  Part of serving Him is putting myself aside and putting Him and others first (Philippians 2).  What does that look like?  It means trusting Him with everything in my life, even my mistakes.  What if I foolishly marry someone who isn't my ideal mate?  Trust God anyway.  God is bigger than any mistake I can make.  He can right any wrong.  If I marry the "wrong" person, God can redeem that marriage and make it amazing.  He's in the business of changing hearts, after all.  The kicker is that we must focus on His changing OUR heart, not our spouse's.

God is also in the business of refining us for His glory.

That means letting go of our self-serving desires and surrendering ourselves to His will.  Because He has amazing things waiting for us behind that door.  More than we can imagine - Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."  Ephesians 1:18-20, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."

If you are struggling with this idea, I challenge you to pray about it.  Ask God for His vision for your marriage.  Ask Him to change your heart and give you a heart for your husband and for His will in your life.  He is faithful.  Seek Him and you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

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