Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CP 185 A ship you will not desert?

CP 185 A ship you will not desert?

More than 40 years ago, in the early days of our marriage, someone gave me a little booklet entitled “How to be married – AND happy”. It was not meant to be cynical. The author was wanting to encourage couples who were struggling in their marriages. My pastoral experience and reading tells me that no other relationship makes us so consistently vulnerable to deep and long-lasting wounding. Nowhere else are we so ‘naked’ to another. Intimacy wounds hurt like no other wounds. They take longer to heal. When the temperature of love has a period of cooling the call to forgiveness is daunting and might feel impossible. Today I simply wish to share with you a couple of snippets written by thoughtful writers who have been wrestling with the joys of marital love.

The first is from the introduction to “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller. (Hodder and Stoughton 2011) In a humourous and honest way, Keller acknowledges the truth of the journey he has taken with his wife Kathy:

“Our friendship grew into romance and engagement, and then from a fragile new marriage into a tested and durable one. But this only happened through the ‘Pearls before swine’ speech, the Great Dirty Nappy Conflict, the ‘smashing-of-the wedding-china affair’, and other infamous events in the family history… - all mileposts on the very bumpy road to marital joy. Like most young modern couples, we found that marriage was much harder than we expected it to be. At the conclusion of our wedding ceremony we marched out singing the hymn ‘How Firm a Foundation’. Little did we know how relevant some of the lines would be to the arduous and painful work of developing a strong marriage.

      When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
      My grace all sufficient will be your supply.
      For I will be with you your troubles to bless
      And sanctify to you your deepest distress.”

The second quote is from Lewis Smede’s book, ‘The Power of Promises’. This passage has become embedded in my heart as a foundational truth for my part in our marriage. I share it with every couple in pre-marriage discussions. Read on:

“Yes, somewhere people still make and keep promises. They choose not to quit when the going gets rough because they promised once to see it through. They stick to lost causes. They hold on to a love grown cold. They stay with people who have become pains in the neck. They still dare to make promises and care enough to keep the promises they make.

I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God.

What a marvellous thing a promise is! When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable; she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay.

When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and controls at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.

When a person makes a promise, she stakes a claim on her personal freedom and power. When you make a promise, you take a hand in creating your own future.”

Can I tell you why I love Lewis Smede’s words? If a couple make such a promise or vow to each other they need never fear the fights. Everything that ever needs to be put on the table can be put on the table because ‘the other’ has promised to be there regardless. The other is committed to forgiveness and reconciliation! Can you imagine what it might be like if you were fearful about raising any issue because you thought that if you did, your partner might take offence and leave. This is a real fear for those who do not live within the safety net of the marriage vow.

If you are married, do yourself a favour, look your spouse in the eyes, and say, “Doesn’t matter what, I’m never leaving!” That’s a Jesus Messiah type of love. And as Fr. William Bausch once observed, “Many couples give up in the blackness of what feels like Good Friday. We are challenged to remember, especially on Good Friday sort of days, that there was a resurrection on Easter Sunday.”

Enough from me. Onward in hope!

May your week be blessed in Him.  …Fred.


Anonymous Sally said...

Great reading this Pastor Fred. I so gratefully remember your words to me: Stay because you made a promise.
And Our Lord continues to keep His promise in blessing our lives.

4:14 AM  

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