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How Strong Marriages Emphasis Unity Over Individuality

19 years old is far too young to be thinking about marriage!  Come on, I was barely a Sophomore in college struggling to maintain a B in English Literature, needing only to shave once a week.  I made $7.15 per hour!  Occasionally, I stayed up all night playing video games!  I was a just a kid.  Nonetheless, love is not a practical emotion.  Neither is desire a rational companion.  There I sat in the 4thfloor of the college library, daydreaming about the girl I’d been dating these past 12 weeks.  I had decided that I would marry the dark-haired beauty with the brilliant smile.

I’m not sure when I first knew.  Every Tuesday and Thursday she would sit at lunch, laughing with her friends just a few feet from my table.  Perhaps it was then.  There was also the day she performed The Scarlet Ibis in Speech Lecture, capturing the attention of 300 students.  Maybe it was then I knew.  Or, more likely, it was the night we awkwardly slurped cafeteria spaghetti in what would become our first date.  Regardless of when it happened, I knew it happened.  I had fallen in love and would marry Heather.

12 months later we sent out several hundred wedding invitations.  Prominently displayed on each was a very special scripture that she had selected.  Psalm 34:3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Together has been the byword for our entire relationship.  Like taking two separate colors of Play-Doh and mixing them together in order to make an entirely new color, so we have left behind our individuality and have intentionally pursued unity.

Heather and I were married very young and have now entered our 18thyear of marriage. From the very beginning we were TOGETHER and we’ve found several things that have helped us stay together.

Play Together

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

God invented marriage to provide companionship for His favorite creation.  God made the tree and said that it was good.  God made the stars and said that they were good.  God made the fish and said that they were good.  God made the cows and said that they were good.  God made man and said, “It is not good that man should be alone.”

Are you actively working on your social relationship? Are you strategically setting aside time and intentionally building the friendship between you and your beloved? 

A few years ago Heather and I had the opportunity of speaking in Australia.  An absolutely incredible pastor’s conference flew us all the way out to the Land Down Under for several days of ministry and preaching.  As is our habit, we tacked on a few extra days to spend together.  We booked a room on the Sunshine Coast in a little place called Noosa.  Our goal was to hike, swim, and spend time with only each other.  Heather and I are modest people and we prefer swimming in isolated places.  Crowded beaches are not our thing.  We asked the front desk if there happened to be any quiet and isolated beaches within hiking distance where we would could be alone. She told us of a beach that was 5-6 miles away in the midst of a nationally protected wildlife preserve. This would be perfect!  We packed our bathing suits in our backpack and started hiking to a beach that promised seclusion and privacy. 

After an hour and a half of hiking we came upon one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Perfectly fine light-brown sand, crystal clear blue water, and a deep green tree line about 100 yards from the water. NOT A SOUL IN SIGHT!  We discretely changed in the bushes, walked to the center of the beach, laid out of beach towels and began to soak up the sun.

Have you ever had the feeling that someone was watching you?  I looked around and didn’t see anyone.  But I couldn’t shake the feeling.  Finally, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye, standing way back near the tree line.  It was a man.  It was an older man.  It was a naked man!  At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  But sure enough, there he stood in all of his geriatric glory.  I spoke, “Heather, Don’t Look!”  It was too late.  She had already seen what only a doctor should see.  Perhaps our first reaction should have been shock or even disgust – but it wasn’t – it was simply laughter.  We burst into hysterical laughter, rolling on the sand giggling like children.  When we looked back to the tree line – he was gone.  We thought that our laughter had scared him away until a few minutes later he popped back up at the tree line and looked around like a meerkat looking for danger.  We considered leaving immediately until we realized that the immodest meerkat wasn’t bothering anyone, so we let it be.  It was an odd occurrence that we chalked up to chance and serendipity. 

It wasn’t but 30 minutes later that we noticed another elderly man strolling down the beach wearing nothing but a tan and a smile.  It was in that moment that I realized – we are not on a normal beach.  We quickly gathered our belongings and ran back to the hiking trail, but before we departed I insisted leaving the following message in the sand.

 

Heather and I have laughed about this ridiculous story dozens of times in the last 3 years. We consider it one of the most disturbing and hilarious moments in our lifelong friendship.

Song of Solomon 5:16 His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend.

Are you friends with your husband?  Do you have adventures with your wife? 

This doesn’t happen automatically.  We believe that you must be intentional about building your friendship.  Every week you should have a scheduled date night in which you simply go for a walk, rent a movie, or play a game.  Every month you should have a night out where you go to dinner, play tennis, take a hike, or see a movie.  Every six months you should schedule a big night out where you see a show, get a room, or spend the day shopping.  Annually you should get away for a romance weekend.  The point is – this kind of relationship takes time to develop. 

 Worship Together

Acts 18:26And (Apollos) began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 

God invented marriage to help you become the complete you.  God knows who you are.  But He also knows what you are becoming.  He is slowly molding you and making you into the perfect you.  This is called the sanctification process and, the person you married, is likely one of the biggest components to His master plan. You see, the person you married is not simply there to make you happy but to make you holy. 

Acacia Springs Retirement community was not your typical “old-folks-home”.  Yes, the majority of the residents were well into their senior years, but they were independent, healthy, and extremely active. We spent years in our early ministry conducting a Saturday evening service for the dear Christians of this community.  I’ll never forget an elderly couple named Mr. & Mrs. Jackson.  He was 92 and she was a spry 89.  Each week they sat on the front row, holding hands as they sang the old hymns of the faith.  When it came time for me to preach my sermon, she would open the old black Bible and hold it over his lap so they could read it together.  Occasionally, I even received an “amen” from Mrs. Jackson when I spoke of the grace and goodness of our Savior.  How many years had they studied the Word together?  How many times had their voices blended in perfect harmony as they sang praises to the Lord of Heaven?  How many countless sermon had they discussed on Sunday afternoon? And now, here they sat, under the teaching of an inexperienced pastor, fumbling through the Psalms.

I wasn’t notified when Mrs. Jackson died.  On Saturday night, when I got up to preach and saw Mr. Jackson sitting there alone, I assumed his wife wasn’t feeling well.  Week after week we would come and deliver a service.  Week after week Mr. Jackson would sit there, alone. What I will never forget it how he sat… with his hand in the same spot… palm facing the sky… as if waiting for her hand clasp his own.

“Mr. Jackson,” I sheepishly asked one Saturday evening after we concluded our services, “are you doing okay?  I mean with Mrs. Jackson passing away and all?”  He looked up from his seat, with a mixture of sadness and compassion in his eyes, “Oh Pastor, we’ve not had our last moments together.  We will worship together some day.  I know that I will see her again.”

Do you sing together? Is your house filled with Christian music?  Do the sweet sounds of worship flow out of your car?  Do you take time to stand together in the house of the Lord every Sunday morning and sing out before the throne of your Lord and Savior? How beautiful each Sunday morning can be.  What a gift it would be to spend each Lord’s Day standing hand-in-hand worshiping with the one God gave you.  

Do you talk about the Bible together?  Do you know what he thinks about the book of Proverbs?  Have you discussed the differing views of God’s Sovereignty vs. man’s free will? Has she told you what passage of Scripture speaks most clearly to her lately?  You hold in your hands the very love letter from the God who loves you both. There is so much to learn.  There is so much to discuss.  And, doing so together, may cause you to draw even closer to one another.  For this reason Heather and I actually produce a podcast called The Bible Talks with Josh & Heather – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-bible-talks-podcast/id1292338341?mt=2 – or – http://thebibletalksshbc.podomatic.com/rss2.xml

Do you serve our Lord Together?  After being in the ministry now for over 16 years we’ve noticed that some of the strongest couples we know are the ones who are serving in ministry together.  Like Aquila and Priscilla these couples find great satisfaction and joy in discipling new believers, young children, or teenage saints.

Intimacy Together

Genesis 2:24-25 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Is it possible to be one with another person, if that person is unwilling to share their innermost thoughts, fears, and dreams?

A few weeks ago Heather and I sat at a Texas Roadhouse Grill.  We were exhausted from a log day of travel and shopping.  I had just spent the last 6 hours of my life in a mall the size Delaware, and all I really wanted to do was eat my dinner, head to our hotel room, and go to sleep.  After the bread came and we were served our drinks, heather asked me a question, “Josh, would you like to discuss our goals and dreams?” 

NO!  I don’t want to discuss our goals and dreams!  I want to eat my $10 sirloin, go to our hotel room, make love to my wife, and than – fall asleep!  Wait Josh, I thought you were tired?  Why did you have “make love to your wife” on your list?  Listen my dear female reader, for a man, it’s always on the list.  It may not always get checked off the list.  He may not always tell you it’s on the list – but rest assured – it’s on the list.

“Josh, would you like to discuss our goals and dreams?”

I acted like I didn’t hear her, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”  “I’m going to the restroom and when I get back I wanted to share with you a few things that I’ve been thinking about for our future.  Some of my dreams.  I want to hear yours too.”  It was a statement this time, not a question.

As she walked away I realized that I had only 3-4 minutes to figure out what my goals and dreams were for my life.  I had a choice to make.  Would I give my wife what she really needed, what she was literally asking for?  Or would I ignore the request and widen the chasm between her soul and mine?  When she got back I decided that I would be the one to engage.  “So, I’d like you to go first, and then I will tell you a few things that have been on my heart that I’ve not yet shared with you.”

It’s never easy to open up your soul and let another person know what you’re truly thinking.  We don’t like to be judged.  We loathe the idea that we may be misunderstood.  I don’t want to look egotistical, selfish, or overly ambitious. And so we rarely tell.  We rarely reveal.  We rarely speak.

Heather and I have found there are few things that draw us closer together than when we are able to be vulnerable, open, and honest about our hopes, fears, and dreams.  That night we experienced togetherness, true intimacy, and friendship at a level never seen by those who are unwilling to dream together.

They say that you aren’t supposed to eat playdough.  But that’s hard to do when you are a pre-schooler who didn’t finish your breakfast and the teacher is looking the other way.  They also say that you aren’t supposed to mix the colours. But this is what I’ve learned.  If you bring blue Play-Doh and pink Play-Doh together, and mush them up against each other, and kneed them, and stretch them, and roll them together – eventually they become inseparable.  It becomes increasingly difficult to tell where the pink begins and the blue ends.  In fact, the more the two become one, the more impossible it is to see two separate colours.  Eventually, you just see one.  Have you noticed this?  Can you point to a married couple who have been together in a loving relationship for so long that it’s difficult to imagine them without the other?

What are your thoughts?  Where am I going wrong?  Where do you agree?  What have I missed?  Please comment in the thread below and I will attempt to answer each.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    April
    October 2, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Oh my word, we had a weird naked old man thing happen in FL at the beach! We were completely alone, floating on rafts in the water pretty far out when this old man yells to us something we couldn’t really understand 😳 so we just yelled back “oh sure!! Go ahead!!” thinking whatever it was couldn’t possibly be that bad🙈, then 10 minutes later Nathan’s like “ok…umm, so don’t look over there 👉…” 🤣 Apparently he had asked if we minded him going fishing IN THE NUDE! In the OCEAN!! 😩 🤦🏼‍♀️ Perhaps, in retrospect, we shouldn’t have responded so enthusiastically. 🤣🐳🐬🌴

  • Reply
    Rob
    October 2, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Is this supposed to say they emphasize unity over personality?

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