Hopelessly Devoted

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”

My husband is fiercely loyal and it is one of the qualities I love the most about him. It is one of the ways he has loved the fear of abandonment and rejection to healing in me. It is one of the ways he has shown that even in serious trouble, it is not a time to give up. He has taught me how to persevere and do the hard things because of this quality. I always say, he doesn’t just read the word and forget what it says. He does it. So when God said for husbands to love their wife as Christ loves the church, my heart is evidence of that.

This morning in our devotional we read about a couple that has been married 50 years and when asked separately what their secret was to 50 years, they both responded, I never tried to change him/her. Wade said that would be so cool to be able to celebrate 50 years with you. rocking-chairs-1046184_640

C’mon, how much sweeter can you get. I was thinking, I don’t think I want to live that long. haha We are just 11 years in and I am 49!!! Ok it is actually plausible and please celebrate with us if it happens but therein lies a picture of our differences. And I celebrate them! We make a better whole because of them.

Loyalty is defined as the quality of being faithful to someone or something. It has been in the forefront of my mind for a variety of reasons and Psalm 119 is one of them.

It is a fascinating portion of scripture in that it is the longest psalm and chapter in the entire bible. The whole theme is the psalmist’s loyalty to the Word of God. The structure of the psalm made it easy to memorize in the Hebrew culture when they didn’t all have copies of scripture. This particular psalm is formed as an acrostic with 22 sections each corresponding to a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, every verse beginning with the letter of its section. Amazing.

The Psalmist was referring to the Torah, which were the first 5 books of the Law/Old Testament and almost every verse of the 176 verses written have a synonym for the word Torah in it. How creative is that. His devotion was evident that he was fully convinced God’s word was life and those who kept it were rewarded by God.

Observe his delight and devotion.

Vs 1 – Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Vs 9 – How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

Vs 11 – I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Vs 24 – Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Vs 36 – Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Vs 45 – I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Vs 89 – Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Vs 92 – If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

Vs 105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Vs 125 – I am your servant, give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

Vs 165 – Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

One of my favourite things about this psalm is how it ends in Vs 176, ‘I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.’ After all of the devotion and desire to be loyal to God’s word, he concedes to his humanness. He confesses and turns back to God. Reminding us all that every good relationship needs to be intentional, seeking after the heart of God and the ones we love. We still may fall, but the grace of God picks us up. Love covers over a multitude of sins.

Let this be your prayer and protection with me for the days to come. Psalm 119:103,104 ‘How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! honey-dipper-924732_640 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.’

What can you do to become more loyal to God’s word today?

 

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I’ve Got the Marriage I’ve Always Wanted

My husband, Wade and I, were blessed to attend a marriage conference last weekend with our daughter Keshia and son-in-law Calvin. It was the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted with Gary Chapman. He is still a dynamic speaker and storyteller and passionate about the subject of love and marriage at the age of 76 and with over 45 years of marriage. His key concept as an author is about the 5 Love Languages. If you aren’t familiar with this concept, Dr. Chapman proposes that there are 5 main ways in which we express and in turn receive love. These are: Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Spending Quality Time and Physical Touch. You can go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ to discover your language if you do not know it. Dr. Chapman says that we usually have one primary language and almost never does a husband and wife have the same one.

We discovered early in our marriage and family what our love languages were and it has helped us significantly to show each other how we love and know that we are loved. The love language tool was just one of many that Dr. Chapman spoke of at the conference. Communication skills are given more clarity when this tool is used. He said in relationships to begin with a fundamental decision to treat each other as humans and allow the other to feel their own feelings and think their own thoughts as we are all different.

He suggested that no conflict is without resolution and we each can do something to move toward this. He says often we think it is a financial issue or a sex issue or parenting style that causes the problems but really it is how we approach these issues that determines the outcome. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Jesus didn’t say we wouldn’t ever have any problems but if we can approach each issue in  a loving and respectful way with our spouse, or in any relationship for that matter, we can work toward resolution.

Dr. Chapman suggested that serving needs to start at home, often we go into our workplace, at church, with friends or on missions giving our best service but we need to do what we can to change and serve those at home. This starts with our spouse if we are married. Two selfish people cannot have a good marriage. This conference was rich with great ideas from improving communication to mutual joy in sex, to initiating positive changes and giving constructive criticism. He reminded us that we need to submit to the Holy Spirit working in us and that lasting changes don’t happen without God doing the work.

One of our greatest takeaways from the conference was affirmation that Wade and I are doing a lot of the right things. Believe me, this was not intuitive for us as a couple but is a complete display of God’s grace and restoration of broken lives. It is a miracle that we are together to begin with (ask me about the story sometime) and between my failed marriage and Wade waiting to marry in his 30’s after failed relationships, we had a good idea what didn’t work well and where we needed healing.

We chose to be deliberate about our relationship right from the beginning and have practiced learning and growing together with Christ in the centre. We know without God it would not be this sweet. One other standard was that divorce is never mentioned. There is no escape clause in this covenant made with God, till death do us part is not an addendum.

86% of people say that deficient communication was the cause of their marriage failing. Relationships don’t evolve on their own and nobody told me how difficult they were but I hope that someone hears that it takes work to make it work. There is no lack of teaching on communication and marriage out there. I will list some of the resources that have been helpful to us at the end of this blog.

A number of things have kept our marriage vibrant and perhaps I need to write more on this subject as it is close to my heart and exciting to be able to share with people how to do things differently or have another perspective anyway. I believe that strong marriages create a solid foundation for so many things in this world besides healthy families. As Dr. Chapman said, you both win when you serve each other God’s way, the way He created marriage to be. You can start with asking God how you can be a better spouse and what there is in you that you can improve.

Only we know ourselves, so what is it that you can do to tear down the wall on your side to make even a slight improvement in your marriage?

To be continued…

Resources

The Bible – https://www.youversion.com/ You can download the bible onto your mobile device

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs http://loveandrespect.com/

The Sexually Confident Wife & The Passion Principles by Shannon Ethridge http://www.shannonethridge.com/

5 Love Languages & The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Gary Chapman http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

The Marriage Course by Alpha http://www.relationshipcentral.ca/

From This Day Forward – 5 part series from Lifechurch http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/from-this-day-forward/

Imarriage by Andy Stanley