We Trusted in God: Part 1
There are so many different marriages between so many different people that one despairs of writing anything that can be useful to such a diverse audience. For each marriage is unique in certain ways; yet there are common threads in the story of all couples that are blessed of God.
I am forty-four years old, happily married and blessed. I have been married for nearly twenty years and am head-over-heels in love with my wife. She seems more dear and precious to me today than on my wedding day and I thought I could not possibly love her more then.
I call her The Sweetest One. It is an apt title for a marvelous human being. She, of course, asserts constantly that she does not deserve such an accolade, that she is merely human like everyone else, etc. I say, “of course,” for is this not just what a Sweetest One would say? “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” (Proverbs 31:28) But the secret of this wonderful blessing is found in the thirtieth verse: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) It is because she set the Lord first from her youth, and it is because I, too, set the Lord first from my youth that all these things have been added unto us (Matthew 6:33).
Long ago, back in the early spring of our lives, both my wife and I were children, raised in separate families. Her parents put together a family, each coming from a separate family culture. And my parents, also, formed a family where no family had been before, each bringing to their marriage various things they had gathered from their parent’s family. And so it goes, a marvelous and complex web of human life, stretching back over the length and breadth of human history to the very first couple.
The first couple had no family background to bring to their marriage. And they were innocent, free from sin, free even from a history of sin with its accompanying scars. In the perfect plan of the Creator, He created the one from the other. It was a beautiful relationship that was devised by the Master. Woman, taken from the rib of Adam, up by his heart. Do we catch a hint of inspiration in the proceedings? How close did God intend for husband and wife to be? “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” (Ephesians 5:25-28)
It was not the intention of the Divine Architect that the created differences in the man and woman would become a curse to them. The masculine and feminine natures were part of the plan. “Male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27) The difficulties of each in comprehending the other are also the product of Divine wisdom.
It is a fragile, shining thing, this marvelous and intricate relation that God devised between the two flavors of humanity that He created. And He provided all things necessary for them to blend (2 Peter 1:3) until it could be said that two individual people from different backgrounds, one male and the other female, would be one, presenting a united front. They would each complement the other, making of the two a complete person in a sense, although still remaining two individual, accountable, eternity-bound souls before God. He looked upon this part of His creation as well as the rest and said it was good. It was devised just as it should be and worked well between Adam and Eve just as planned until they sinned.
This wrecked everything. It is the cause of all the misery, the trouble, the heartache, and the injustices that are everywhere today. Sin has caused, is causing, and will continue to cause all that is fundamentally wrong with folk’s marriages today. God has a remedy for sin that works. If you want a marriage that works as God planned for it to work, you must take God’s remedy to destroy sin in you, for sin is the great destroyer of happy marriages.
You may say, “I know some marriages that I think are happy, and the individuals are not living sinless lives.” Yes, they are happy to the extent that they avoid doing what they know is wrong. The more they avoid it, the better off they will be. It is great wisdom to avoid sinning as much as possible in all areas of our life, such as friendships, business, etc. But the full blessing of what God designed marriage to be is only found in living a holy life by the power of God; indeed, that is the only life worth living at all.
The benefits of a washed heart (1 Corinthians 6:11), a purified heart (1 Peter 1:22, Matthew 5:8, 1 Timothy 1:5), lay a proper foundation for marriage. We can say emphatically that you are not in a condition to properly comprehend what this is really all about until you have experienced a change of heart. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:10) While this verse in context is about the inability of the unsaved to comprehend the workings of God in events in human history, it is fair and accurate to apply it to the events of human relationships at a man-to-wife level, also.
If you really want a good marriage, get saved. Get delivered and cleaned up by the power of God. Get an experience where you love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself, and yourself last. Unsaved people tend to have it the other way around. Many go into marriage with the thought (both of them) of what they may get, instead of what they can give. They have not been delivered from the “old man, [and] put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22,24) They have not learned from God how to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). The foundation for an accurate understanding of the marriage relationship is not properly laid.
An unsaved life is basically a selfish life, dedicated to the satisfaction of one’s self life. The ordinary difficulties of the married relationship are acerbated by the condition of the heart. The changed heart makes it vastly easier to come to grips with the very real challenges of married life. We read that all they that marry “shall have trouble in the flesh.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) How could it be otherwise? To take two different human beings, one male and one female, from different backgrounds and parents, and place them together to form a home and raise little ones—of course they will have trouble in the flesh! They will have a myriad of adjustments. If they are not both born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and living for God instead of themselves, it is much, much harder.
Human wisdom has devised a multitude of ways, customs, and traditions to minimize the frictions and to enable the married couple to make a go of it. One tradition holds that the prospective wife be chosen at a early age and goes to live in the prospective mother-in-law’s home. She learns from the fiance’s mother how to cook for him and what are the ways of his family in discipline, values, etc. This has a show of wisdom. But what does it teach him in comprehending his wife? “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge.” (1 Peter 3:7) This is the problem with human wisdom—it provides a lopsided solution.
Have you ever thought that life is basically backwards? Consider! We make our most fundamental decisions when we are young and do not know what we are doing. Then we live with the consequences. This is especially true of marriage. One needs to have been married for many years, raised a family, and seen the success/failure rate of many other marriages from that perspective before one is qua1ified to get married in the first place. This, of course, is impossible.
I am satisfied that God knew we would not know what we were doing. He meant for us to voluntarily trust Him by turning from our own ideas and opinions and placing our hand in His hand for guidance. He designed the thing so that we would absolutely need a guide.
That is where the story of my wife and myself begins. It is the story of how two of the great multitude of humanity humbled themselves before Him who knows all things. Of how He helped them to die to self. Of how He put them together. There are many others like it, although it doesn’t seem like it. I say it doesn’t seem like it because most of God’s creation has ignored the vital truths expressed in this little writing and have/are pursuing their own way. A small percentage of mankind is truly happy. A small percentage has found the fullness that the Master Designer intended. To the extent that others have gotten closer to that pattern, to that extent they have been blessed. My wife and I are just people, too. What has made the difference with us is allowing God to have His way. Anyone who does this will be blessed.
When a young teenager, the Lord visited me and caused me to feel the great necessity of yielding myself completely to Him. “My son, give me thine heart.” (Proverbs 23:26) Oh, how much trouble and confusion the Lord would spare each of us if we would let Him have His way! He knows how to do it. He can guide each of us safely through the hazards of this life. He knows what is best for you.
I wanted to do well; I wanted to do the right thing. The Lord helped me to realize the great truth in the following lines.
“Only one life—’twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
I wanted my life to count; I wanted to do what was worthwhile. The Lord helped me so much. He helped me to die to self; He led me into truth and helped me to pay the price to buy truth (Proverbs 23:23). I did not know it, but He was preparing me constantly for the big decisions that lay ahead. Everything seemed big at the time, but looking back, I see how thoroughly and lovingly my heavenly Father was teaching me to lean upon Him and not to my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). How useless would have been my desire to do right without His active leading and preparation.