July 7 was an important day for us! Why? We celebrated the big golden one – our 50th wedding anniversary – and are still receiving numerous congratulations around the world via email, phone, SMS, face-to-face, Skype and Facebook.
We particularly liked what our Chinese friend Winston Lee so graciously emailed: ‘Wow! In a day of troubled ‘contemporary’ marriages, you have created a living fairytale!’ Loved that!
Marriage, like life, has often been called a journey. It certainly is…one of adventure, discovery, romance, excitement, challenges, dangers, decisions and great joy. All these things – and more – can only be encountered and worked through by a couple who are not only in love but remain committed to each other no matter what darkness comes their way.
Commitment … that’s a word involving obligation, liability, duty, responsibility and ‘giving one’s trust to.’ Unfortunately it’s a major that’s been missing in ministry, businesses, relationships as well as church life and marriages for many years now.
The ‘old’ traditional wedding vow strongly emphasised a commitment based on a not-meant-to-be-broken pledge given willingly by each of the couple, along the lines of… ‘I take you to have and to hold from this day forward; to share my life and make my home with you for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. Before God and these witnesses, I pledge you my honour and faithfulness.’
There was no thought of ‘Oh, let’s give this a try for a few months or even a few years. If it doesn’t work out, we can get a divorce. And, anyway, we can always play around while we’re giving marriage a go.’ No, it was, and is, a long-term agreement.
Fairytales are regarded as only great little stories for kids to believe in and relax with, not real, just tales of imaginary people, ‘beings’ and happenings and highly improbable accounts.
Can ‘fairytale’ marriages become real, strong, vital and lasting? Yes! How? Without going into a marriage session, let’s just say by embracing these 21 Commitment Principles! Always…
- Honour the Lord and his business and each other.
- Draw on the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance.
- Acknowledge God in everything, both large and small.
- Place Christ in charge of the marriage and each other lives.
- Pray together and commit each new day to God.
- Hand every good project as well as difficulty over to God.
- Work through sickness and financial distress with trust in God.
- Make valley decisions together, not alone.
- Share all things openly, quietly and patiently talking matters through.
- Priortise each other first, before personal ambitions.
- Rush to forgive and forget, no matter what’s gone wrong.
- Promptly say ‘Thanks’ when something nice has been done.
- Understand, comfort and love meaningfully when trouble hits.
- Refuse to criticise and pull down.
- Uplift, support and encourage regularly!
- Meet each other’s deepest need, willingly and readily.
- Dream boldly in God for all the tomorrows.
- Allow generosity to control the pocketbook.
- Exercise selfless love, respect, admiration, and honour!
- Build a mind and heart appeal relationship, not just sexual.
- Remain romantic and only have eyes for each other.
Satan, our enemy, is out to destroy marriages, especially where he sees a couple on-fire in ministry for God. He’ll cunningly move to break such marriages (and has done so in recent years). And, unfortunately, some couples, never mind the devil and life itself, seem to be their own worst enemies and they themselves ruin their marriage!
Married couples have a responsibility to each other to look out for lurking dangers and to uncover hidden snares. To pray together, trust each other and above all trust God in everything. To believe that God has a great plan for their life together no matter what comes against them. To love deeply. And to know that they can overcome all of life’s cruel curves and satanic attacks, deceptions and tricks.
Okay, we keep hearing marriage jokes from guys. Such as zany Groucho Marx who quipped, ‘I was married by a judge but I should have asked for the jury’s verdict!’
But what about the ladies? One placed an ad which ran: ‘Wanted: Husband.’ She got thousands of replies each reading: ’You can have mine!’
And the classic wrong view of marriage: ‘Married life is very frustrating. In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens. In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens. In the third year, they both speak and the neighbours listen!’
It’s no wonder that when we run our fun Marriage Encounter Evenings we call them Marriage – the real CSI!
Yes, sometimes some sorting out and adjusting has to be done for the journey to continue. But, seriously, a God-centred marriage can work and endure if it’s built on an understanding the Hebrew of the Genesis 2:24 ‘leaving and cleaving.’ Love is a verb and these two verbs carry the meaning of committing … forsaking all others and personal desires and tightly adhering to each other as if by using some powerful superglue.
Yes, we’re 50 years married. It hasn’t always been easy – even fairytales have their stresses, adversities, giant enemies and bad moments. But we have a great God and have faith in him and each other. We’re moving ahead on our journey!
Gold is symbolic of a 50 year anniversary. It also speaks of God, his deity, our faith in him, his divine nature and glory (Acts 17:29; Rev. 3:18; 1 Pet.1:7). Any successful marriage will always allow a golden God to be its golden centre.
Fifty is symbolic of Pentecost, freedom, jubilee (Exo. 26:5, 8: Lev. 23: 25: 25: 10-11; Num. 8:25; 1 Kgs. 18:4, 13: 2 Kgs. 2:7; Acts 2:1-4). Also the result of perfect consummation, or fulfilment, of time. We are jubilant that we reached 50 years in this special freedom called marriage. But it’s only the beginning. We’re moving ahead!
By making God the head of the marriage, a couple are preciously united for life’s time span. Loneliness is no more; goals can be set together and worked toward in freedom. Committed couples can really discover each other, help one another and achieve many new things together. They can learn to love more deeply, be open, build each other up, forgive and forget when all upsets occur, and, most importantly, grow together caring deeply.
Our prayer is that every married couple will enjoy their life together as they respect each other, follow Jesus and keep falling in love over and over again.
Let the journey be a rich one!