Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another.
We all desperately want the brass ring of marital bliss.
Yet we spin in circles going nowhere fast, dizzy in our deprivation, riding a carousel of conflict.
Husbands and wives reaching for the ring but never able to grasp it for the fighting and quarreling and bickering.
Fast and furious, demanding our own way until one day we fall off and crash.
And the height of joy that can be ours in marriage eludes us when two who vow to be one can’t seem to agree on even one simple thing.
But the Lord of the ring, who is Lord over all, has mighty arms that are not too short. He never stops reaching for us.
Those same arms that stretched wide up there on that hill, extend past our pettiness, selfish intentions and old war wounds. Arms that can bring man and woman together in loving, respectful unity. Hearts healing to do His bidding, kissing selfishness goodbye.
As God’s prisoner, then, I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another.
Yet we stubbornly dig in our heels as we face off, poised for battle.
But about the fights and quarrels that exist among you—where do you suppose they come from? Can’t you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves? You crave for something and don’t get it, you are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don’t possess it yourselves. Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn’t give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit—you only want to satisfy your own desires.
Our own desires pushing past our partner’s.
Then he says, and she says. And she says and he says, and on and on. Only no one is right and nobody wins when we don’t first let the word of God speak right loud and clear to our own puffed up egos.
Not hers, but yours. And not him, but you.
And in marriage so often what is seen in the partner is merely a reflection of our own smallish self.
Yet we boast big, feeling superior and judging, and our own selfishness brings us down so that a day of fun at the fair turns into a long, lost night in a house of mirrors and smoke reeking of sin, and we can’t seem to find the way out. Untamed passions set on fire, and stubborn wills set in the world’s wrong direction, undoing us every time, and satan scoring a point.
You are … flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God! Anyone who deliberately chooses to love the world is thereby making himself God’s enemy.
Do you think what the scriptures have to say about this is a mere formality? Or do you imagine that this spirit of passionate jealousy is the Spirit he has caused to live in us? No, he gives us grace potent enough to meet this and every other evil spirit, if we are humble enough to receive it. That is why he says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’
And the sin in his heart, with its pain, triggers the wounded places in her, and her words pierce sharp as darts, deflating and often bringing death. And the lure of the world with its lust of the flesh and me-first flaunting, screams self above all as we wander life’s midway where colors flash and music blares.
Only there is no middle ground where sin is concerned, for evil is never satisfied.
Only all or nothing until we lose it all. And the same old sinister plot keeps ensnaring souls that refuse to submit.
Bit by back-biting bit, until the love we once prized is destroyed. And marriages crumble and little hearts watching learn wedded life all wrong as they shatter in a thousand pieces that we can’t put back together again.
And our nerves jangle on edge as we hang from the edge of our seats on a fierce ride we created with our sinful and selfish choices.
And our hearts pounding, with tears burning, want to get off the ride because the pain makes us sick, but no one seems to hear our pleading, regrets too late.
And our heart hurls into utter despair.
All we long for is a little peace and a chance to win back at least a piece of our partner’s heart. The heart we took for granted and sometimes treated cruelly with our rigid self-righteousness and control, wanting always to have our own way, with words that hurt long after they left our lips.
And we may finally get our own way only to discover that we are now on our own, standing lonely and all alone.
Yet we won’t quit our belly aching over our spouse’s alleged infractions when all we feed our bellies is junk food full of deception in an array of artificial colors. Evil goes down easy, tasting good in the moment, but results in long-term toxic damage when we’ve stayed too long at the fair.
Where we put ourselves center stage as the star attraction in our marriage, seeking attention and limelight, but what our real hearts deep down truly long for is love that never quits. And light that shines bright through any darkness.
Loves that accepts us as we are, never to leave us. Yet never leaving us where He found us, but transforming us to be more like God.
And only when we stop and start to feed daily on the Bread of Life that can nourish rightly — changing our thinking, our words and our will — will our souls fall in line with His spirit of love, pure and true. And the eating of the bread, and the remembering of His flesh broken for us, causes our flesh to shrink as His righteousness rises in us.
And as we follow, He will lead in the direction of home, finding our way out of sin’s distortions, off the dirty littered path.
He’ll meet us on the road to Emmaus. And hearts willing and surrendered, will hear His voice, recognize Him, and fall in step with Him on the high road paved with love, sealed solid in the everlasting Way.
And grace will protect us like a tent in a downpour. Canopy of love covering over our sins, and all our peevish, pig-headed ways.
So we don’t have to be stiff-necked sheep, slow to learn and shaking in fear. Sheepishly running for cover when He calls us out on our bad, hiding behind our pride.
Believing that we are endowed with all the answers and somehow entitled to have the other person bow down to our greatness when there is only one Great One, and we must humble and bow down to Him.
Yet His compassion and mercy holding us back from the worst of ourselves as we selfishly vie for the supposed prize of always being right, which is so very wrong.
And our famous last word leveling love to the ground.
And any win in this demonic demolition derby is at the expense of black and blue bruising to the soul of our spouse.
Forgetting that Father has made us partners, husband and wife. Co-laborers and co-heirs. Side by side, day by day, for life.
And both of us created in His image, of great worth and precious value to Him and each other.
Bound in a covenant of companionship where the daily rubbing up against the other in love, helps soften and warm our hearts, flooding them with blood sacrificed for love, yielding peace and joy and goodness.
Allowing us to lose our dyed-in-the-wool self-righteous attitudes.
And His holy breath of life will expel our hot air, stale and sinful. Emptying us so that we can come like little children seeking to the throne room of Father.
Where He will hold us in His hand, which is where we really want to be. Safe and secure, resting in God’s love.
And He will teach us how to walk out a new life in Christ where the blue ribbon has already been won. Humbly offering our lives to Him in love and for love and by love and through love.
Be humble then before God. but resist the devil and you’ll find he’ll run away from you.
Come close to God and he will come close to you.
Realize that you have sinned and get your hands clean again. Realize that you have been disloyal and get your hearts made true once more.
As you come close to God you should be deeply sorry, you should be grieved, you should even be in tears. Your laughter will have to become mourning, your high spirits will have to become heartfelt dejection. You will have to feel very small in the sight of God before he will set you on your feet once more.
And marital harmony will flow from humility like manna from heaven as we lead self to bend low, feeding each morning from the Word. Praying to will and to do according to His good pleasure, not our own any more.
And the butting of heads will cease as the lion in us lays down with the lamb of God.
Loving God above all and our neighbor before self, and our closest neighbor is the one in bed next to us, with matching rings and same last names.
And our babies will be blessed because mommy and daddy love and respect each other, serving each other first after God.
And the peace and security of doing marriage and life God’s way will reach far beyond our wildest imaginings.
Not to one, or two, but a thousand generations of righteousness.
And the point at which this dream comes true, is when we surrender our whole heart, our all, to Him.
In Christ alone…
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Balloon and Dart Booth photo credit
Tent with pigs by Mike Leckband photo credit