This is the last of a seven-part series on marriage. To be honest, I almost aborted this series several times. I thought, “Who am I to write about marriage?” A friend, over “Coffee at The Lofts”, recently asked me, “Who are you writing to, to yourself or to your readers? That’s what I call catharsis. You really put yourself out there.” I replied, “Maybe I’m writing to both.” After finishing a story, I frequently realize that the story was working on me as much as I was working on it.
The following lyrics depict my journey and current station as a husband and follower of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Many years have passed my way since the ground in my heart was turned over; but I’ve still got to say, there’s still work on the back forty acres. But with faith, I’ll endure, and one thing’s for sure, I believe He’ll use me. Since the plow’s been in my hand, there’ve been times that I’ve sought the shade when the heat was too much to stand, but does this mean that my heart isn’t in it… Every now and then I need correction, like an ax I need the grinding stone. But I know it’s all for my protection, to keep me from going on my own…,” (He’ll Use Me, by Paul Clark).
Well, I’m putting myself out there one last time. It was only a couple years ago and the incident was intensely grievous and regrettable. My wife, Susie, was profoundly affected by it, so much so that we didn’t speak a word to one another for several days. We had excommunicated one another. And just so you know, I was not unfaithful. It was an incident that neither of us instigated or was responsible for; but we were forced to respond to. I suspected that Susie was contemplating leaving and when I approached her and said, “We need to talk” she confirmed my suspicions. Then I declared to Susie, “I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep our marriage together. I’m not giving up on over forty years of marriage. I can’t stop you from doing what you decide to do, but if you leave then I’ll tell the kids that you are the one who gave up. After all, we’ve been through together I’m not giving up on our marriage.” Susie was startled by my uncharacteristic response, as was I. She expected me to say, “If that’s what you want to do then just leave”. But thankfully God had prepared my heart and response through hours of agonizing prayer. Tears welled up in Susie’s eyes and she said, “I needed for you to say that. I needed to know that you were willing to fight to keep our marriage together.”
John Eldridge, in his book, “Wild at Heart”, suggests that scripted into the heart of man is the desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue; that “Men need a deeper understanding of why women long to be fought for, to be swept up into adventure and to be a beauty.” He adds, “Life needs a man to be fierce and fiercely devoted… in every relationship, something fierce is needed once in a while.”
There is never anything abstract or vague in the Bible; God speaks in no uncertain terms. God does not say, “Be a good husband”, He says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies… for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church,” (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Another friend and I were recently talking about becoming the husbands that God wants us to be and he lamented, “I’m afraid it’s too late. The damage has been done.” But I disagree; for it’s never too late to start doing what’s right. We can’t alter the past but we don’t have to be defined by it. We can go forth, from this day forward, and strive to be the husbands that God has ordained that we be.
For those of you who may be saying, “But I can’t measure up”, contemplate the following words of truth, hope and encouragement from Oswald Chambers: “Beware of placing our Lord as teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I cannot attain… What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be…? I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only… He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life… The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works… At critical moments it is necessary to ask guidance… then we must quietly wait for the direction of His presence,” (My Utmost for His Highest).
It grieves me when I hear of a couple divorcing after twenty, thirty and even forty years of marriage, for in the words of my close friend, Charlie, “If there was love in the beginning, there will surely be sorrow in the end.” Therefore husbands, let us fight tooth and nail to preserve “What God has joined together…,” (Mark 10:9).
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him,” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.