Four Things I’m Learning

“Why have you stopped blogging since you got married? I want to hear what you’re learning!”

I was surprised by this question from a friend. I’d assumed that the last thing they wanted was to hear my new and naïve thoughts on marriage! But I’ve missed blogging, and there are lots of things I am thinking through. Here are four:

1) God’s wisdom and ways are so good!

This shouldn’t be a surprise of course, yet one of the things that Tim and I have been struck by is the wisdom and goodness of God’s design for marriage. Society offers numerous views and options, and today many are suspicious or outright incredulous that marriage can possibly be a good thing. Surely it’s just too fraught with difficulty, unpredictability, and potential heartbreak? Some of our friends think we are unwise to commit to lifelong marriage (and crazy to wait for physical intimacy until the wedding day!)

As Christians we decided to trust in God’s wisdom by obeying him even though we were scared. We’re grateful for the friends who have modelled marriage to us and reminded us of its goodness. We’re just at the beginning, but we’ve already seen profound wisdom in God’s design, and been so blessed by marriage so far that we feel ashamed of our doubts! When we’re fearful about the future we remind each other that God promises to help us.

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.” Psalm 25:9-10 

2) I have a god complex

Whether you have a housemate or a spouse, you quickly become aware of things that aren’t done the way you like them! It’s been shamefully revealed that I want everything and everyone around me to fall in line with my desires and preferences. What’s a helpful gospel response to this? Well, instead of being quick to complain or to push my agenda, I can accept the reminder that I am not God and so I can’t require everything to orbit around me! In fact, having my own way (in effect being worshipped) can’t satisfy anyway, because I was made to serve him who is infinitely greater and more worthy of worship. This frees me to show grace and consider others rather than seeking my own fulfillment.

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,” Philippians 2:5-7

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3) We need other people to challenge us

One of the things I was nervous about as we prepared for marriage was conflict. It’s a necessary but uncomfortable part of any real relationship. Yet, unexpectedly I find myself flourishing as my husband questions and challenges me. I’m fortunate to be married to a kind and patient man who challenges me more gently and less frequently than I deserve, but I can already see how key it is, and that it’s part of our love for each other to point out when one of us is wrong, unwise, or failing to see the bigger picture. I’ve still got a long way to go in this area, but it’s been encouraging to see how difficult discussions can actually lead to helpful change and growth.

And in relation to this …

 4) I can change

When I was a young adult I was used to changes in my circumstances, knowledge, skills, and personality. I was still growing and developing, and so I expected it, enjoyed the adventure, and tried to cultivate positive change in my life. However I’ve noticed as I’ve moved into my thirties that I’m much more change-averse . I make excuses, and  believe that when it comes to some things I simply can’t! And yet change is still a crucial process.

Marriage forces change. It brings a radical change in circumstances, and effects change in one’s habits, character, and countless other areas. It’s a process which is uncomfortable at times, yet exciting and fruitful. So I’m repenting of my negative attitude and asking God to use the changes which our marriage brings to transform us in ways that please him, growing us in godliness and greater love for each other. Moreover for the Christian, God is continually at work by his Spirit to transform us to be more like Jesus Christ. That’s change which I can embrace!

Can you relate to any of these? I’d love to hear your comments.

Nim

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A Refuge in the Midst of Change

We live in turbulent times.

The political landscape around the world has changed remarkably in the course of a year, causing many of us to feel unsettled and anxious about the future. Perhaps like me, you face personal changes too? Where should the Christian look for help in the face of change? Whether it’s something that we’re excitedly anticipating or an unsought sadness.

After all we are just like everyone else – subject to all the same challenges and unpredictabilities of life. And yet as followers of Christ we are to be joyfully different too; even when the changes we face possess the power to rob us of the things we value most.

Because when it comes to challenge and change, the Christian knows where to turn. Our trust isn’t found in our own resources. It’s not to be placed in our own physical or emotional strength, or in financial stability or job security. Thankfully our trust is in a far more secure location – our good and wise God.stirling-castle-scotland-stirling-castle-64287

Here are just a few of the ways that the Psalms describe him:

A shepherd (Psalm 23)

A refuge & shelter (Psalms 91& 62:8)

Our shield and hiding place (Psalm 119:114)

A deliverer (Psalm 18)

Our strength and help in trouble (Psalm 46:1-2)

How firm and secure we can be as we walk into the unknown! How blessed we are, even when difficulty surrounds us . As the words of this famous hymn remind us:

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender;

  We go not forth alone against the foe;

Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender.

  We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go. . .

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,

  And needing more each day Thy grace to know:

Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing;

  We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go. . .

These resources grow even richer in light of the gospel. As Hebrews 4 reminds us, we are granted the right to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

So, whatever the nature of the changes that you face; whether you are weak and need the reminder of God’s comfort and strength, or his gentle rebuke against your self-reliance, may you have joy and know his help as you walk with him.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

 

Nim