For those of us who are married, our most important ministry is also the closest to home.
We can feed the poor like Mother Theresa, preach like Billy Graham and write more Christian chart toppers than Steven Curtis Chapman, but if we haven’t been faithful in the little things of ministering to the one God gave us, we’ve missed our main calling.
Marriage is the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible. It’s the first and the last.
There aren’t too many verses between page one and the marriage of Adam and Eve. And if you flip to the back of your Bible you’ll see it merrily concludes with the marriage of Christ to His church.
It’s no wonder an institution so important to God would be under continual attack by culture, laziness, selfishness and lust. The enemy wants to make a mockery of matrimony because if you break this bond, the damage reverberates for many generations.
The biggest lie we fall prey to is that the enemy is our hiking partner. Instead, we must always beware the bear.
To avoid waking up to warm breath coming out of a moist muzzle, we need to keep our marriage survival skills in tip top shape. Here are some critical bear proof strategies for our marriages:
Study the Map
There is no greater guide to a healthy marriage than the one provided through Scripture. Studies show that couples who study the Word and pray together have radically improved odds of enjoying a vibrant, lasting marriage. Joining a Bible study with other couples will not only help you realize this benefit, but it will also provide encouragement, shared wisdom and accountability. Make this a priority in your marriage and you’ll take your relationship to the highest elevations.
Your strength is togetherness. The danger comes from isolation where you are at the greatest risk of bear attacks. Many marriages suffer from the “drift,” that slow pull that results in separate lives. Oneness takes an intentional, unrelenting effort. It means scheduling time together, prioritizing intimacy and always supporting each other even in times of dwindling supplies and bad weather.
When you’ve got a predator lurking in the shadows you need to always be on the alert and prepared for action. The last thing you need is to have your backpack loaded up with marital unforgiveness.
Be willing to let the little things go and to have the courage to resolve the larger issues when they first come to light. The Bible teaches us to never let the sun set on our anger with each another and this is a discipline that will pay great dividends.
Never Get Off Of The Trail
Don’t take your eyes off of the prize. When you start chasing the rabbits of the world such as money, careers and possessions you’ll quickly find yourself off the trail and in the weeds. Always keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and follow the path of righteousness.
Don’t Feed The Bears
Any backpacker worth the dirt they tread upon knows you don’t park your sleeping bag next to where you clean the fish. In Genesis, when Joseph was lured by Potiphar’s wife, he didn’t hang around to demonstrate his superior willpower, he fled the scene.
Shakespeare’s great comedic character Falstaff was spot on when he said, “Discretion is the greatest part of valor.” Never put yourself in a situation where you’re attracting danger. Never allow yourself to fall victim to pornography, emotional affairs or addictions.
Create boundaries for yourself in your marriage which won’t allow you to get anywhere near the bears.
Keep The Fire Burning
Don’t allow your relationship to ever lose its warmth. Keep stoking the fire with date nights, vibrant conversation, creativity, laughter and renewed energy. In the busyness of our lives it’s too easy for the flames to die down to complacency and for the chill to set in. If you want to keep the bears at bay, and be a beacon of light for other marriages, you’ll invest much of your time in gathering kindling and chopping wood.
Want more of Michael? Check out When the Lights Go Out at Christmas
Learn more about the author Michael K. Reynolds