from our ministry
TODAY GWEN AND I ARE CELEBRATING FIFTY-NINE YEARS OF MARRIAGE!
I know the cliché “and it seems like only yesterday” is over used, but in our case it is true. It really does “seem like only yesterday” that we exchanged vows, shared rings together (which we still wear) and began a new life together. Little did we know what lay ahead! We were both young and very naive, but very much in love, as if we really knew what love was! Honestly, it was probably more “Fascination”. Nate King Cole sang about it in, “It Was Fascination”. Read the words and you will understand:
It was fascination, I know and it might have ended right then, at the start, just a passing glance, just a brief romance, and I might have gone on my way, empty hearted, It was fascination, I know seeing you alone with the moonlight, above, then I touch your hand and next moment, I kiss you Fascination turned, to love! It was fascination, I know seeing you alone with the moonlight, above, then I touch your hand and next moment, I kiss you, Fascination turned, to love!
But it did not “end right then, at the start” or was it “just a passing glance” or “just a brief romance”, it has lasted for fifty-nine glorious years and it is still going strong!
Our love is not what it was when we were first married; it is stronger and deeper. We really did not understand love because we had not gone through, together, the things that develop and grow true love. Now we have!
You ask, “What are the things that develop and grow true love?” Let me suggest two well-worn things:
A. Commitment! Yes, commitment. The supporting structure of genuine love is not emotions or feelings, it is commitment. Feelings and emotion will follow commitment, but it cannot be the other way around. Understanding this did not come early in our marriage because we were too “hung-up” on the world’s view of love which focuses on emotions and feelings, and we had not gone through the difficult times which quickly reveal that feelings and emotions don’t hold marriage together. As the hard times came, and they did, we quickly realized that we must be committed to one another and the vows that we had made to each other. Neither of us were saved, (i.e., had a relationship with Christ), at the time of our marriage, but God in His grace drew us unto Himself a few years after we shared our vows. That, obviously, started us on a new journey in our marriage and gave us a new understanding of what commitment meant and required. No longer were we “committed” only to the vows that we made to each other, but were committed to obedience to God’s Word which included:
1. Walking by the Spirit — Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not carry out the desire of the flesh.” This is the KEY to commitment that is not burdensome! God in His grace provided us with His supernatural power to accomplish what He desired!
2. Caring for the needs of others more than yourselves — Philippians 4:2, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
3. Living in understanding — 1 Peter 4:10, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” As a husband, this was one of the most insightful and important truth’s from God’s Word that has impacted our marriage.
4. Being thankful everyday for the gift of your spouse — Proverbs 5:18 — “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” and Proverbs 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband”. Seldom does a day go by that I (Ron) forget to rejoice in God’s gift to me of my wife, and I’m sure she is thankful for me! She tells me often of how thankful she is for me! What Solomon wrote in Proverbs 31:10 is so true! He wrote, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”
5. Understanding and applying our God given roles and responsibilities in marriage — Ephesians 5:22-25, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. . .”
6. Understanding and living God’s purpose of marriage — Ephesians 5:31-32, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church”. This passage in the context of marriage tells us the purpose of marriage — it is to show those watching (saved or unsaved) our relationship to Christ and Christ’s relationship to us! As the wife “submits” to her husband’s leadership, we show how the believer submits to Christ’s leadership over them, and as the husband “loves” his wife with an agape love, we show how much Christ loves us and gave Himself up for us. Together, as husband and wife, we serve as an object lesson of Christ’s relationship to His people and our relationship to Him as Lord!
7. Actively living agape love — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails . . .” As I mentioned earlier, this agape (love) is not an emotion, but an act of the will. It is a commitment to the one loved which can be lived through the power of the Holy Spirit. For Gwen and me probably the phrase that resonates over and over again is “does not take into account a wrong suffered”! Agape love always wipes the chalk board clean every moment of every day! It forgives and never holds on to hurts!
8. Prayer! Praying together daily as a couple — Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving . . .” We wish that we had learned this commitment early in our walk with Christ, but it was only after undergoing some very difficult times that we realized and made a commitment to pray daily TOGETHER for specific requests. God used it to transform our relationship to each other and Christ. The old saying, “Families that pray together stay together” is true, but it is also true that “Couples who pray together stay together, too.”
One of the characteristics of genuine love (agape) according to the apostle Paul is PRAYER! In Romans 12 he wrote in the context of genuine love, “. . . rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer . . .” As a couple, Gwen and I have shown our love for each other through the means of praying for one another and other people.
God has “blessed” us with fifty-nine awesome years of marriage! It has not always been easy, but it has been rewarding! How many more years will God give us is unknown to us, but we want every day He gives us to be lived for His glory. We want to “. . proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light . . .” through the incredible means of our marriage! To Him be the glory!
Ron and Gwen