Two days from now, my wife, Linda and I will have been married for fifty-five years. Being back home in Vernon, Alabama this past week for a few days it was interesting how many people we saw that had gone to high school with us and had gotten married around the same time we did and were still living happily together after all these years. Now, it wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that some of the people we had gone to school with and married someone that we know from school, had long since called it quits and moved on to either live single or to marry someone else. But when I think about the number of marriages just in our class who have stuck together through the years, it makes me wonder what the differences are? Why do some marriages hold tightly together so that getting a divorce and finding another person never enters their minds. It certainly isn’t because they don’t face problems, challenges, and disagreements. I don’t think it is possible for any two people to live together day in and day out for over fifty years and not have some strong disagreements. I don’t think it’s possible not to have some times when you are angry at the other and just believe the other one is being unreasonable. So why do we stay together and work out the problems instead of cutting the cord and going another way?
It certainly makes a huge difference when you are both committed to God and doing HIs will. Just to know that God loves me when I’m not lovable and that he is willing to forgive and give me a new start when I turn from the sin back to him makes a difference. The truth is, as long as we are walking in the light of God the blood of Jesus just continues on cleansing us so that the sin is never marked up against us at all (I John 1:5-10). I know that God made marriage to be permanent. His decree is “What God has joined together, let no one separate.” To think that God looked at our marriages and said they were a picture of the marriage between Christ and the church is absolutely amazing. Do you ever wonder, how Christ can keep loving the church in spite of all our failures? It should be easy for us as the church to love him back since he never leaves or forsakes us and is there as our helper and friend at all times. But the very picture of God loving and caring for us in the tough times should give us hope for a life of lasting love. One thing that stands out when Paul said for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her by the washing of water by the word that he might present it to himself as a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she should be holy and acceptable in love. His loving relationship with us makes us better. He is about making us more holy, pure and ready for an eternal relationship with him all the time.
When we think about our marriages to each other and we look back on where we have been, what we have come through, the joys and blessings we have shared and the hard things we have helped each other make it through, then it is easy to see how the love grows a little deeper every year. When we look down the line and see the days ahead when we will need each other to help and walk beside us each step the love becomes more intense than ever.
I hear people say, they no longer love their wife or husband because they have changed and aren’t like the person they married. The reality is we all change and none of us are the same we were at the time of marriage. Love means a commitment that we will love each other through the changes of life and see how each change makes us better and moves us closer to God’s will for us, it will make a difference in life.
I suspect I’ve heard a thousand times from couples who did give up and divorce and go their separate ways, as years pass and they look back and see what all they missed in life with family, friends, grandchildren and life as a whole, “If I had known what it would really do to break up the marriage to the rest of my life, I would have done a lot more to keep things together.”
When divorce has happened, God is still ready to forgive and give a fresh start so we can make the best of the situation we can. But if you are struggling in your marriage, let me remind you that your marriage is worth fighting for and God will help you forgive, be there for each other and rebuild the relationship even when we have fallen miserably. Love that last is an amazing thing and you truly feel more as “One flesh” all along. I thank God for the 55 years Linda and I have shared so far. I’m expecting many more to follow.