I normally love “aha” moments. You know, when you figure out that problem that’s been bugging you for days. But the “aha” moment that happened about a year ago didn’t feel so good at the time. I was sleeping soundly and woke from a dead sleep and sat straight up in bed. The only words that came out were “that’s a lie”. It was in that moment that I realized I had believed a lie my entire marriage.
I need to give you a little background before this will make sense but, because you are reading this on my wife’s blog, I will let her tell you the majority of her perspective. I will just say that my wife struggled with her identity in Christ and begged me often to reaffirm who she was. I believed, and still do to some extent, that we are responsible for our own walk with Christ. Though this may be true, society and Satan do extensive work in downplaying the man’s role as a husband and a father. Just look at the statistics for fatherless homes and you will see our latest generation is in for a hard road if they are looking to the father for guidance. Likewise, the divorce rate is staggering and the only reason it isn’t higher is most couples don’t even bother getting married so there is no divorce to add to the stats.
We must set some ground rules before I continue. The first and hopefully only rule is that this blog is trying to represent my thoughts about what the Bible says about an issue and in most cases will offend many if you are taking a public poll. I am going to speak about a husband’s role from what I believe is a Biblical perspective and am not debating politics. I believe the Bible is clear on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I also believe that the Bible is clear that families are best defined by God’s design in marriage.
Now back to my “aha” moment. The moment that I realized I had not been the poster boy for how to lead a godly home. Please know that when I come to you speaking of my shortcomings in these areas, we are talking about someone who went to church every Sunday. I was an elder in my church and had even delivered the message a half a dozen times. I think I believed I was doing ok in this job and did not truly understand my shortcomings until God “sifted” me into a new appreciation for my role in this family.
Now we are getting to the meat of this blog. I believe most husbands and fathers fail to recognize God’s calling on their life. I will go so far as to say that the church often lets the man off easy in this message for fear of running them off. Let’s face it, most of them are only coming because their wives are making them so don’t dare call them out on their sin or you may lose what tithing you’re getting. God did two things in pointing out my deficiencies. He showed me where I had believed the cultural lie of a complacent husband and He showed me what the marriage could look like when I follow His design. The thing I love about His design for our life is that, when we stop trying to avoid His will in our lives, we benefit in our obedience. I think most of us believe that Scripture is a bunch of dos and don’ts but the dos are pretty boring and the don’ts keep us from having any fun. The best way I can demonstrate this is the example of not allowing your child to play in the street. It may be the best place to ride a bike or dribble a ball until that car leaves you lying in a hospital. When we begin to realize that His Word allows us to live life to the fullest, we start to understand that we gain in our obedience because He knows what is best for us.
What does God say about the husband’s role in a marriage? Ephesians 5:25-28 compares the husband’s role to his wife to that of Christ’s role to the church. Wait a minute. Christ died for the church. God can’t expect me to die for my wife, can He? Most of us will never be asked to lay down his life for his wife but Scripture still has us loving our wife with that affection and being willing to sacrifice ourselves for her. It hurt deeply to read the words “that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” I may never be able to lift her to that position, but I am always asked to point her to the One who can. I pray I never fall down in this area as my wife is precious to me and I don’t ever want her believing the lies from the evil one that she is anything other than a child of the Most High God.
God is one of redemption and He is allowing me to redeem the 20+ years of failing to point her to Him. I believed a lie! Debbie begged me to affirm who she was in Christ and I emphatically told her “that was not my job.” I thank God for the gift of telling her every day for the rest of our lives that she is a saint because He says so. We are not defined by our sin but the One who cleansed us of that sin. We are all children of the King of Kings and its time we start acting and living in the victory He has already won us.
I have seen people in my life that seemed to struggle and feel defeated their entire life. Other than a few brief moments of apparent happiness, they just never seemed to enjoy their life. I don’t think I was quite to that level, but I certainly didn’t know how to enjoy the little things. God never intended us to live this way. What I have learned over the past year is that Scripture not only brings our life into a walk consistent with His will in our lives, but there are benefits that come with it.
Let me explain. I used to think that if we did all the right things. You know, pray, read Scripture, go to church, tithe, volunteer, etc. then I would be in His good graces and my life would be blessed. There is nothing wrong in the activities I just described, only the motives behind them. The problem with performance-based religion is it is impossible to maintain that “excellent status” so at some point you falter and you believe God is disappointed and your relationship with Him suffers. What He showed me is that there is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more than He already does. In fact, His Word says that our works are like “filthy rags”. When you truly understand who you are worshipping, there becomes a desire to know Him better and all the things that I described above becomes things that you will want to do simply because of who He is.
That same epiphany on why we worship our Lord became the same motive for wanting to be closer to my wife. I used to think that when I did nice things for her or made time to listen to her then my marriage would go well. Again, a cause and effect relationship based on performance. When I finally realized the amazing woman God had put in my life, the desire to do nice things and get to know her better became a privilege I came to cherish. Now my wife sees me as her best friend because we are. This all comes from trusting God’s word as a way to live life to the fullest and not a shell of a life that we tend to make it.
God has done amazing things and He continues to teach me. Stay tuned to future blogs as I share what He has done and is doing in my life and in my marriage.