We’ve all heard how this proverb from Ecclesiastes (4:12b) applies to marriage. In a world where evil seems to reign, this divine institution is under constant attack. The future can seem bleak. But when God is added to the equation, all things are possible. He is Lord of the transformation. He makes all things new.
I’ve come to understand how another proverb applies to marriage. “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests” (Proverbs 14:4). If you want a barn that is clean, neat and trouble-free, keep it empty. But if you want an abundant harvest (and all that comes with it), you must do all the hard work that is involved in caring for the livestock.
Even with God involved in our marriage, we are called to do our part. We must sacrifice daily towards the welfare of the relationship. A wise man once told me many years ago that we must make a point of sacrificing at least one thing every day for our spouse. You’ll have to ask Aureni how I’ve been doing with this (we’re all pretty much blind to our own defects), but, thanks to Him, we’ll celebrate 36 years this April 17.
Not long after I was married, I had the privilege of performing the wedding for two young people who came to know Jesus and each other through this mission effort. Regis and Denize have been serving the Lord together ever since. Regis is one of our elders and one our best Bible preachers and teachers. Together they lead the couples’ ministry at the downtown congregation.
Last month they organized a couples’ retreat to spend a weekend together discussing ways we can strengthen the friendship we have with our spouse. The themes for the lessons included; The Value of Friendship, The Cost of Friendship, The Fruits of Friendship. Thirty-two couples participated from several area congregations. God blessed it, and all came away strengthen in their relationship to God and to one another.
This couples ministry now meets regularly on Sundays and have other special events at least one a month. This focused effort has helped restore many marriages and has attracted couples from outside our congregation.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a).