Intentionality in Marriage

Two weeks ago I started attending a Bible study at my church led by some dear friends.  The study is geared for younger married couples, and so far they are nailing it.  Both of the last two weeks I have walked away with a lot to think and pray about, a lot of notes, and some good meaty truth to chew on.

This week we looked at the passages in Mark 10:35-45, John 13:1-17, and Philippians 2:1-8 and discussed the passages, and while I listened the Lord really spoke to me.

I have been reading a book about prayer called, The Hour That Changes the World, by Dick Eastman, and while reading through just the first few chapters the Lord convicted me.  I have not been faithful to pray for my husband regularly and fervently.  Yeah, I pray for him, but not nearly as seriously as I should, as he needs me to.

As I sat there listening to applications on how to serve and love others I was reminded that praying intentionally for my husband is one profound way to serve him.

What specifically stood out to me were the words “emptying Himself” (“humbled Himself” in the NIV).  I’ve read this passage in Philippians many, many times, but what struck me was the thought that Jesus could have just come to earth as a man.  He didn’t really have to come down as a baby (of course he really did have to in order to fulfill prophecy, but stay with me here…).  He could have come as a full-grown man and said, “Okay let’s do this thing and bring salvation to all who will believe” (in Aramaic of course), but he came as a baby.  He came as a helpless baby who was completely emptied, humbled of the position He really owned from forever to forever.  Although He had the right and the power to bring salvation perhaps in an easier way that didn’t take 33 years on earth to get to, He chose this way.  Nothing at all was left mediocre.

The Lord spoke to my heart something like, “I didn’t do it halfway or even 3/4 of the way.  I did it all the way.”  The words “emptying Himself” continued to ring in my mind, and I jotted this down in my notebook: “Love is demonstrated through service, emptying oneself out in obedience, for His glory.”

See I can do all sorts of things to serve my husband, but if I am not acting in love and obedience to God, what do I have?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 NIV)

I can’t serve out of spite or manipulation.  I can’t even just let being intentional with loving service toward my husband be a task-oriented item to check off of my daily to-do list.  It can’t only be out of obligation – although sometimes I do have to decide to serve because it is my responsibility even when I don’t feel like it.

I am to serve in love.  Without love I’m just a clanging cymbal, and if you haven’t heard one of those in person just know that it sounds terrible, and causes people to jump and clasp their hands over their ears.  I don’t want to have that kind of affect on anyone, and I really don’t want to have that kind of affect on my husband.

It comes back to humility.  I don’t always want to stop what I am doing when I know I should to go rub my husband’s shoulders or pack his lunch for work the next day before he does.  However being intentional takes sacrifice.  It’s not always easy, but it is so rewarding – even when the act goes unnoticed.  And I pray that practicing service in the little things will help me if and when big things come.

This can be a challenge with children, laundry, and my ever growing journal of “ideas to work on and develop,” but my love and service to my husband is oh so important.  It’s certainly more important than laundry, even though laundry is necessary (allegedly).  Our children will feel more loved as a result of parents who intentionally love and serve one another, too.  They will learn what this looks like and experience the comfort and peace of such a love displayed for them to see.  And God is glorified.

None of us are going to be perfect at this.  We’ll need to communicate with each other and learn continually how to serve and love each other well.  But isn’t it worth it?!

So in addition to striving for more intentional, fervent, and frequent prayer for my husband, I also want to pursue these prayer times with him more often.  I also want to listen to him and ask the Lord to help me know how I can serve him and bless him.  I love the guy, and I want to do this!  And the love of the Lord compels me to do this better and better all the time.  When I think about the love and kindness the Lord has shown me, how can I not?

It takes some continual emptying out.  Only God can really help me with this whole emptying out idea.  If I take out the trash I am bound to leave some behind, but when God comes in to clean He leaves things spotless.

Another book I am reading is called, The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ,” by Kelly Minter.  This book has given me much to ponder.  I wrote this quote down in my previously mentioned journal while I was reading the other day:

“If my heart is full of pride and arrogance, I will not extend mercy and patience to the people I encounter.  When my heart is tied up with jealousy and anger, kindness and forgiveness will not run freely in my life.  Conversely, when God has tenderized our hearts, humbled us, and aligned us with His Spirit, we will not be able to help the overflow of kindness, joy, and love.”

This is my prayer.  Tenderize my heart daily, Lord.  Humble me to love and serve as I only can when aligned with You.  Let others see this kindness, joy, and love that flows as a result, but let this only point back to You.

There is always so much more to learn and grow.

And now I should go make a meal plan for the week.  My husband really likes when I do this.  It makes for more variety and much less stress for me around dinner time (no asking, “What should I make tonight?”)…

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