Several years ago we took a trip to Kenya, Africa to visit our son and daughter-in-law who were living there at the time. We pray we’ll never forget the many things we learned while we were there. We’d like to share with you a few marriage thoughts that the Lord to us. First Cindy will share what impressed her heart. And then I’ll share what made a lasting impression upon mine. We pray they will minister to your marriage, as well.
Africa Marriage Lessons
Our son introduced us one day to a man whose name is Peter. He had/has been a great friend to him. Our son told us what a great guy he was, how helpful he’d been to him, and how much respect he had for him.
But what especially touched our hearts was what occurred after our initial greeting. He turned to Steve and asked him, “Tell me brother, are you born-again?” Steve said, “Why yes I am, and so is Cindy.” Peter rejoiced with us in the Lord. And then he said, “I ask everyone I meet that question. That is because I want everyone to know my Jesus.”
Our conversation together was wonderful. But what especially impressed us was the fact that our son, who is a prodigal, held such admiration for this godly man. As a matter of fact, it seemed like everywhere we turned, God brought believers our way. We were continually able to see a glimpse of God at work in our son’s life. Even though Steve and I couldn’t previously see what God was doing, He was still at work.
Marriage Lessons Learned
There are two main lessons that we learned through this. One is that we can’t always trust what we think is happening. If you have a prodigal child, family member, or a prodigal spouse, keep praying and trusting God. Even if you can’t see God working, you can still trust that He is. Keep praying and believing.
And secondly, this event illustrated to me what it says in Matthew 5:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“
Just as Peter was one of the many “lights” in our sons life, you and your spouse can be “lights” in this world as well. May you treat each other in such godly ways, that when those who don’t know our God in a personal way, see how you live out your married life, they will want to know your God as well!
We’d like to pose a few questions to you. Do you allow the light of the Lord to shine brightly in how you treat your marriage partner? Do your words and actions benefit “everyone in the house” (and outside of it)?
It’s not too difficult to treat your spouse in a positive way when things are going smoothly. But the challenge comes when your spouse upsets you somehow. Are you dimming the “light” of your countenance and actions? Or are you putting them under a “bowl” of resentment and apparent agitation? Are you choosing when and where you will let it come through?
It’s not that you can’t ever get upset. But there is a difference between respectfully handling what needs to be done and handling your “upsets” in toxic ways.
I have to admit that I sometimes do that, when I shouldn’t. There’s no escape clause in those verses to tell us when to honor the Lord by shining His light and when it’s o.k. to hide it because our spouses actions displease us. As Dr Charles Swindoll said, “When we glorify God, it has a powerful impact on others. They’ll learn from our example and want to glorify Him, as well.” May you treat your spouse “as unto the Lord!”
Bringing Glory to God
Our basic reason for existence, after all, is to “bring maximum glory to our God.” We forget about that too often in our homes. We can be nice to others on the outside, but when it comes to our own family, we sometimes put the light of Christ under a “bowl.”
Of course others don’t usually push at our patience and cause such a disturbances within us as our marriage partner can. That’s where we need to look to the Lord to help us to live out God’s principles so we allow the Light and love of the Lord to come forth despite any negative behavior on their part.
We pray that God will work in your life in such a way, that they will see your “good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“ (For further reflection, read 1 Peter 3, and Ephesians 5:8-17. Also read, 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11.)
In Kenya, I was reminded that if we’re going to truly succeed at anything it’s going to require perseverance. For the large percentage of Kenyans who are out of work, perseverance means finding enough food and ordinary necessities to survive another day. They seem to have a different measuring stick entirely for determining success. And for this reason, they DO survive!
And yet we couldn’t get over the smiles we encountered everywhere we went. It seemed like everywhere we turned people kept asking us if we “liked” their country. When we would say that we indeed did, their smiles grew larger. It was obvious that they were well pleased. It was a real lesson for us. The lesson is persevere under trials, as they did. And as we persevere it’s important not to lose our “smile” along the way.
How I apply this to marriage is that if we want our marriages to succeed, it will mean having an attitude of perseverance. In spite of the problems and heartaches that comes into our relationships, we WILL survive. We will, if we apply God’s principles, that is. It may be “just one day at a time” but in God’s strength, we will make it.
Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to cling to Galatians 6:9. In this scripture the Apostle Paul says, “Do not become weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.“ This determination to persevere in marriage has nothing to do with “feelings.” That is because feelings can deceive us, just like the enemy of our faith.
In his book, Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson made this comment in talking about his wife Darlene:
“My love is constant —but my feelings for her are far different during an argument than they are during a candlelight dinner.” Then he said, “We don’t measure the depth of our relationship by feelings at any particular moment.”
Man! Can I relate! There are times when my feelings for Cindy are deeper than the deepest ocean. But there are other times, when I’m barely treading water. I’m determined, however, that though my feelings may change —my love and my commitment won’t. And God is faithful to bless and shine His “Light” and love in and through us as His witnesses. This is so that we allow God’s “smile” to come forth in our lives.
We pray that for you.
“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.“ (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
We are asking God to:
“Fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.“ (Colossians 1:9-10)
Steve and Cindy Wright
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