by Pastor Tim Burt
Renee and I have been married for 36 years. Our marriage started off extremely rocky because we were young, immature, and selfish. Today we have what I would consider the marriage of my dreams. Even though I say that, it’s not perfect and we infrequently have our moments. But for the most part, we have the kind of marriage that we both hoped we would have when we first got married. We deeply love each other. We have great admiration for each other. We serve each other. And we work to serve the Lord together. What has helped us move from one end of the spectrum to the other is keeping God in the center of our lives and prioritizing our relationship with Him and each other.
Jesus meant it when He spoke the words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) Taking this exhortation from the Lord seriously is the very thing that has helped our marriage become what it is.
Our life is disciplined. The word discipline can sound like such a rigid and legalistic word but it’s really not. All it means is that we have prioritized what we know is important and what we know will help us succeed, over less important distractions that would otherwise work to distract us and nibble away at what is significant in our life.
We know we are limited in our own human flesh and wisdom. But we also know that the Holy Spirit and the grace of God indwell us—that is His ability, wisdom, and strength are available to help us go far beyond what we could do in ourselves. Because we know that, we work together to keep the Lord and His word first place in our life and in prayer. Instead of carrying all the burdens of life that cause a couple to be at each other’s throats, we embrace God’s instruction to leave our cares—the things that are really God’s assignment—not ours, at His feet. Psalms 55:22 (NIV) says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” And 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
By spending time regularly reading & studying God’s word, we’ve learned to know and pray in faith according to His will. We are to be smart enough to know our part, but then make sure we turn God’s part over to Him as He exhorts us to in Philippians 4:6 (NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
We have learned that we can’t do the things we are led to do without God’s help. We believe Jesus when He said, “… apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV) We’ve learned over the course of our marriage, that time and time again, God uses a Pastor preaching from a pulpit and Christian friends that we associate with in spiritual growth and fellowship, to speak into our lives. God has taught us that through each other, and through a community of believers that love Him, He’ll always find ways to speak into our life and keep us on track growing in Him. It has resulted for us in a wonderful healthy marriage and a purpose-filled marriage of reaching out to others with the love of God. We could not ask for anything more.
He teaches us to prioritize our love for each other. We learned early on, sitting down and communicating about life and what is going on around us is a must. We take time to go on big and little dates. Sometimes just over coffee and a bagel and other times over a nice dinner. We go for walks. We play golf together. We prioritize downloading communication time and spending time with each to have some fun. We do so knowing that to not do so is to cause our communication and our marriage to erode.
Marriage is work. Marriage works when two people set down their pride and selfishness again and again. Marriage works when two people remember that they love each other and need God’s help to sustain it. Marriage works when couples prioritize seeking God’s help and let His word guide them through disputes and decisions. A God-built marriage is a beautiful thing that produces wonderful things for His Kingdom. Seek Him first. Put Him first. And prioritize your love for each other! It’s a beautiful thing.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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