The symbol of the cross is found on buildings, in artwork, jewelry and gestures around the world. It is both respected and reviled. In the middle east, Isis is actively tearing down every semblance of the cross. In eastern China, crosses were pulled down from 400 churches in 2014 because the Christians there are gaining more prominence.
In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing….” (1 Corinthians 1:18) When you see the cross, what do you think about?
What is the impact of the cross of Christ on your marriage? Years ago when we were young and Good Friday would come around we would wonder what was so “good” about it? All we saw was the torture, suffering, sacrifice, and death of Jesus. But now as we have grown older chronologically and spiritually, we have a deeper understanding of what Jesus’ sacrifice means to us individually and to our marriage.
Here are four things the cross means to all of our marriages:
When we were married in 1983 it was nearly 100 degrees outside. Inside the church building, every member of the wedding party (including us!) was dripping with sweat. A day after the wedding it was discovered that the heat had been on for the entire wedding day!
As we stood (sweating) before God, the minister, our family and friends, we said our vows just like you did. One of the things we committed to was to “honor” each other, but we really had no idea what that meant.
Through over 35 years of marriage, we have learned how important honor is to a healthy marriage relationship. Through selfishness, lack of intentionality, and sinful choices we have felt the pain when honor is missing. Perhaps you have experienced similar pain in your marriage.
As a result of our pain, we have become students of how to honor each other. Here are four ways to honor your spouse:
Years ago we knew a retired pastor who would often suggest, “Let’s just stop and have a breath of prayer.” Something about that phrase made prayer approachable, simple, and unencumbered.
You have the unique opportunity to know your spouse at a deeper, more intimate level than anyone on the face of the earth. As such, God has positioned you like no one else to be able to pray for your mate through the course of their day.
Begin the habit of having a “breath of prayer” throughout the day for your spouse. Here are some simple things to keep in mind:
- Photo credit: kelley_leigh / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Love tells the truth and the truth must be told in love. Do you believe that? Is it true in your marriage?
Matt and Sara have a marriage with minimal conflict. Their evenings are filled with some casual conversation about the day, the children, household decisions and friends. But to keep the peace they avoid telling each other what is happening inside their hearts. Neither wants to admit that they are lonely in their marriage. And so they continue to pretend and wish for a different life. And the separation widens…
John is quiet and reflective while Mary is strong and outgoing. When John opens up about something that he is feeling or thinking, it is common for Mary to power-up and shut him down. Over time, John chose to become more secretive with everything from money to activities to his thoughts. And the separation widens…
The irony in trying to keep the peace in marriage by not telling the truth is that you actually LOSE the relationship you are trying to preserve! It is only in telling the truth with love to your spouse that you are drawn together and are connected intimately.
What does it take to make each day count in your marriage? It’s easy in the busyness of life to let things slide by, to relegate what matters most to the shadows of our lives and let the tyranny of the urgent rule. After our faith in Jesus Christ, what matters most is the health of our marriage.
Funerals have a way of reminding us that the number of our days is limited. They re-clarify what really matters in life. Last weekend was the service for Brad’s aunt. She was a godly woman who served Jesus for over 35 years in Korea teaching music at Seoul Theological University. She never married, but she had hundreds of students who called her “mom” and mourned deeply over her passing.
As we reflected on a life well-lived, we thought of four things that should be part of every couple’s day—four things to make each day count in your marriage. They are: