note: These are my sermon “notes” from this Sunday’s message. (They are notes, I haven’t written this as an article so please excuse the abbreviated words and sentences. To get the most out of this message, please go to the Adventure Church website and listen to the audio). You also can read my notes from the first message: What If I’m Not Married?
If you were going to place your marriage on the “Love Map”, where would it be right now?
The Beach? (honeymoon feeling, a party, everything’s perfect)
On a Mountain Top? (things are going fantastic, we are super blessed, great things are happening to us and our family)
In a Valley? (things are going poorly, something’s wrong, we are arguing often, life is a struggle being married to this person)
In the Grand Canyon? (there is a crisis, someone is having an affair – physically or emotionally, divorce seems like the best option)
On the vast and fertile Plains? (life is good, there is nothing that is dramatically exciting but neither are there any serious problems, day-to-day we are generally content, our children are doing well, we rarely argue and when we do it’s not a knock-down drag-out fight, or, if it is one, we apologize quickly and move on) (note: most of marriage is going to be in the Plains)
In the Desert? (life was good, but for some reason our relationship is dry and generally lifeless, we are missing nourishment and refreshment, days are hot and difficult, nights are cold and distant)
In the middle of a busy City? (we are very busy, everywhere we turn there is something to do and another responsibility, our kids keep our schedules full and we are running non-stop)
Where are you? and Why does it matter?
note: Marriage is a journey and a destination. You can probably see your marriage in one of these geographical locations (and can surely remember some times when you were in another location). Where we are in the journey, and how to navigate the journey matters because: God presents Himself to us in the marriage relationship (husband to wife, and wife to husband). He also presents Himself through our marriage to others: our children, our friends, our church and the world. Marriage is a means by which we experience God and His grace.
How do we navigate the journey of marriage? Here are some travel tips:
See the Whole Map
(note: we tend to only see where we are right now and fail to see all that marriage can, and does, bring. It is important for our marital health and the success of our journey to see the big picture of marriage by seeing the whole map).
It’s not Unusual – remember that where we are is not unusual. All marriages travel through different locations, and most, at one time or another, will travel through every location. You are not the first to be in your current situation and you will not be the last.
It’s not Permanent – Your situation won’t last forever. Circumstances change. We change. God changes us and others.
It requires Commitment – Mark 10:9 “What God has joined together, let man not separate.” – note: The way to successfully and joyfully navigate the marriage journey is to recognize that you have made a commitment to each other and to God as well. Commitment is being willing to stay through the difficult times (desert, valley and canyon) even when it’s not enjoyable, in large part because you know that the plains and mountains are there to be experienced.
Recognize Where You Are
It takes Communication
Truth Telling Communication – Ephesians 4:25 “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
Gentle, Non-Advesarial Communication – Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Reflect on How You Got There
note: good or bad, it’s important for us to notice how we got to where we are. When we take notice of such things we will see patterns of: being in the Word (or not), being in community (or not) (especially accountability), serving others (or not).
It takes Examination – 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?”
It takes Confession – James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
note: confession isn’t easy or fun. but, confession removes the “splinter” from our souls that is festering and hurting (maybe not all of the time, but it keeps showing up).
note: on the journey of marriage, we must “pack” with us the right things. Here are a few things to make sure we pack:
Patience – “Love is patient” note: it can take a while to get out of a valley or through a desert. It can take a while to learn how to climb a mountain to the top.
Sacrifice – “Love is not self-seeking” note: your marriage should be about the other person, giving 100% and expecting nothing. (when we do that, we are all more blessed in the end).
Forgiveness – “Love is not easily angered, Love keeps no record of wrongs” (we forgive even before forgiveness is sought and definitely before forgiveness is earned, if ever. that’s what Jesus did for us on the cross – He forgave us before we repented!)
Remember the True Destination!
note: the true destination: Your marriage is not as much for you as it is for others. Marriage is meant to be a representation to the world of the relationship that exists between Jesus and His Church. It is: unconditional love, sacrificing, forgiving, patient, etc.