The other day I was taking a walk on a beautiful day. As I listened to my head phones, my dog was excitedly exploring from the end of her leash. It didn’t take me long to realize that my athletic sandals were not the thing to wear on a path filled with little stones. I would walk a few feet and a little stone would fly into my shoe, right under my heel. I would try to walk a bit, then I would sigh and stop to remove it. This played itself out several times over the course of my walk. The walk wasn’t as delightful as it could have been because of the shoes I had worn on the path of my choice. How could I have kept this from happening? It is quite simple : I could have chosen a) to walk a different path or b) to wear different shoes.
I think this may be something like marriage. To begin with, some of us get on a path we really shouldn’t be on. We choose to marry a person who isn’t a Christian. Oh, we may have thought they were a believer, but it turns out, they aren’t so sold out for Jesus, after all. We all have the opportunity to inspect our future path. If I marry this person, what will my life’s path look like? Will it be smooth, with just occasionally stony areas? Or will the whole terrain be filled with huge rocks that will feel impossible to get around? How do we know, you ask? Our pastor recently gave us four basic things to look for in a potential spouse.
1. The person needs to be saved. This isn’t just with their lips, but showing forth in their life’s choices, as well. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
2. The person needs to be spiritual. They should thirst for God’s Word and think on spiritual things. (Proverbs 12:7)
3. The person should show biblical love. Biblical love is selfless, kind, and forgiving. It is not self-seeking or rude. A good test to know if your future mate practices biblical love is to watch how they treat their parents or the waitress in a restaurant. (I Corinthians 13)
4. The person should show godly character. Lying, cheating, anger, greediness, drinking, laziness, nagging, immodesty, immorality are all red flags showing there will be some pretty big rocks ahead of you. On the other hand, self-control, joy, kindness, and generosity signal good things ahead. And just a note here…of course, no one is perfect. What if you find a great guy or girl that struggles with a sin issue like anger or laziness–does that totally discount them? Not necessarily. But ask these questions: Do they want to change? Do they admit that it is sin? Are they teachable? And we do need to realize that there will be stones in our path ahead because of these character issues. (Titus 2:1-8 and Galatians 5:16-23)
So this is all well and good for those of you who haven’t gotten married yet. But what about those of us who chose our path long ago? It is too late for us to take all of this into consideration now. We have committed to this path and the Bible tells us to stay on it (which is quite opposed to what our culture tells us, by the way). So if we find ourselves already on a path that is a bit stony, it is time to take a look at our footwear.
Just like wearing the appropriate footwear can keep us protected on a stony path in real life, so we can be appropriately attired for our rocky marriage path. Here are a few ways that will clothe us properly and help our marriages, no matter what kind of path we find ourselves on:
1) Dedicate some time to our inward beauty. Many of us do not think twice to spend money on our hair, our nails, or to go to the gym. We spend hours shopping for just the right clothing and preparing our hair. But how much time do we spend fixing up our “inside”? Are we putting into practice what we hear the preacher say at church? Are we reading books that help us to grow spiritually? Are we listening to podcasts that challenge and convict us in our walk with Jesus? (I Peter 3)
2) Focus on our own need for change. This one is really important. Most of us try to change our husbands. We do this in a variety of ways, including nagging and cold shoulders. But I ask you: has any method to change your husband ever been effective? In my case, the answer is no. I have been very convicted of this, as of late. I have to worry about me. Are my responses and reactions godly? Am I being the wife I should be? Do I need to change? If I am honest, my response to that question has to be a resounding YES, I do need to change. I have much growing to do. And so I continue to be challenged to work on me and pray about the areas in which I think my husband should change. I serve a great God…I can trust Him to work in my husband’s life. And He will! He is faithful! I have personally experienced this many times. It is sad that I so easily forget! (Proverbs 21:9)
3) We need to submit to our husband’s leadership. This isn’t popular or easy to do. But God tells us this in several different passages, so it must be important. Each home has different challenges in this area. Some homes have a man who willingly gives up his leadership to his wife. But that is not God’s plan, so we need to turn that around. Other homes are filled with fireworks, because the husband and the wife both tend to be very opinionated and vocal. But when push comes to shove, the husband should make the final decision. It isn’t always easy for the wife but this is the way clearly commanded in scripture. And then there are other homes where the husband is a natural leader and the woman a born follower and she has a difficult time giving any opinion. Wherever we find ourselves in this scenario, it is very clear from scripture where we should be. We have a responsibility, as wives, to do our part in this area. (Ephesians 5:22-32)
Marriage is tough, isn’t it? No matter how wisely we choose our spouse, we will all have some stony areas, and even big rocks, to navigate around. First and foremost, we need to use great wisdom in choosing our path. My very wise husband often tells our children that their choice of spouse will either make for a wonderful life or a very difficult life. They get to choose.
But after that is all behind us – and, for most of us, it is – we need to appropriately attire ourselves so that we are pleasing the Lord and making our marriage the very best it can be!