Spiritual Marriage

Marriage is just a piece of paper and some meaningful words in front of loved ones. Marriage is standing in front of a group of people, quoting antique vows, and praying you’ll make it through the rough patches. Marriage is a government institute.

It’s no wonder so many marriage, even in the Christian community, fail. We have completely forgotten (or have we ignored?) the spiritual aspect of the marriage covenant.

Have we forgotten that God is the inventor of marriage and therefore HE defines it, not our government or our communities?

Why bother getting married, when we can just live together and become Common-law without the expense of a wedding?

Marriage, in our society, has become nothing more than the wedding. We have lost the fact, not just the theory but the fact, that it is a spiritual binding of spouses to each other, committed to for life through covenant before the Creator of the Earth. Marriage isn’t just a piece of paper that makes taxes or bills or banking or child-bearing easier. Marriage is spiritual bondage.

When you commit to marriage, you are committing “until death do you part” to your initial spouse. When you attempt to break that commitment – because we as humans think we are powerful enough to break something in the spiritual realm – it causes pain, multiple marriage, divorces, restless spirits, destructive sin… A feeling of lack of control. That piece of your spirit that keeps telling you “It doesn’t make sense!” even when it doesn’t make sense that it doesn’t make sense.

We need to start bringing the ‘spirituality’ and the ‘covenant’ back into marriage. Those are two words I never heard related to marriage before I leapt into that relationship. They’re words that need to be explored and applied to marriage. They’re words that need to be taught to our kids. They’re words that need to be taken extremely seriously.

Why do you think we have so many unhappily married people around us? Why do you think that so many people are struggling? Because we have grown into largely viewing marriage as a relationship and nothing more. Just two people who spent lots of money, wore a suite and a dress, and had a great day with their friends.

As the ‘friends’ we have forgotten that the wedding is a solemn ceremony. We’re more focused on our outfits that day or the caterer or the white dress or the decorations. Or thinking of the happily every after we think we’re watching in front of us.

Yes, the wedding is beautiful, the emotions are wonderful, and we are so thrilled our friends have found each other. There’s nothing wrong with this, celebration is necessary! But before we start to think that this is what the day revolves around. Stop. Pray. Realize the seriousness of this commitment. Think of the reality of the God they are standing before.

Bring the spirituality back into the vows that are being said.

God Himself is listening. God Himself is hearing “until death do we part” and God Himself is holding the couple to that covenant.

Until death will my commitment to your marriage be. Until death will I, as your friend, fight for your marriage. Until death will I hold you to your spouse. Through sickness and health, for better or worse, I will encourage you in your covenant to your spouse. Until death.

If marriage is just a piece of paper. If marriage is just something our government defines. If marriage is just a beautiful wedding. It’s no wonder it’s so easy for all of us to give up on.

But if marriage is a covenant, the only way it can be broken is by death. If marriage is a spiritual binding, only God can decide when it’s broken. If marriage is more than just something we do here on our temporary earth, but is also a spiritual event, it is so much bigger than we have been taught.

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God’s Covenant

Aside

When I left my husband, the feeling that there was a wall between me and any other man was impossible to get rid of. No matter what I tried, no other man could come close to making me feel like my husband had. It didn’t matter what they did, there was something always holding me back from being fully invested in the relationship. It wasn’t a continual comparison, it wasn’t anything specific that just didn’t measure up…there was just a distance between my heart and theirs that I couldn’t shake.

Memories would come up at the most inconvenient times, feelings, longings, heartaches. Even though I refused to admit it, there was a connection that just couldn’t be severed. It felt as though I couldn’t help but love my husband, even when I was trying to do the exact opposite.

Our marriages are meant to be a reflection of God’s relationship with us. That is the actual point of marriage and why God created this deep relationship. The thought of how our marriages and our feelings towards our spouse are meant to mirror God’s feelings towards us, has been rolling around in my mind. If it was this impossible for me to ‘move on’ from my commitment to my husband, even when I wanted so desperately to, how much more is it impossible for God to stop having loving feelings towards us?

I know how it is to try to find a replacement after leaving my husband. Once you have joined your initial spouse in covenant, it cannot be broken. “Until death do us part”. That is what you have committed to, regardless of your spouses behavior or how your feelings (“For better or worse”), or theirs, seem to change. You have agreed before God that you will love them until death. And that is what God holds you to. There will never be a marriage, a boyfriend, a lover, that comes close to filling that place in your heart like your spouse does. Once you have said these vows to God, your initial spouse is tied to your heart with a spiritual bond that cannot be cut, regardless of how the world defines your marital status.

God has made a covenant to us as well. He is tied to us with a bond that cannot be severed and, no matter how hard we try running from that bond, we will always have an ache to return to him. God, literally, cannot give up on us. He can’t help but chase after us, it’s built into him to love us passionately, to desire to have us as his own, to want deep, meaningful relationship with us. Once God created us, we had a special place in his heart that just can’t be replaced. He loves us so deeply, so unconditionally, and nothing else can come between that.

I can’t help but love my husband. I know that running from my marriage couldn’t stop that love and I know that, regardless of what he does and how he acts, I will always love him. Because I committed to a covenant with my husband, until death do us part, it will be impossible for me to love anyone else. It’s so amazing to me to know that, if my heart is tied to my husband this strongly, God’s heart is tied to mine even more. There’s nothing I can do to stop his love for me. There’s nothing I can do to stop his commitment to me. Wow. What a overwhelming thought!

 

Aside

In order for something to be good, it needs to be new. Isn’t that what our culture teaches us? Second hand, cringe. Trying a relationship again, nuh-uh. Even working at an existing relationship to make it better isn’t something that is accepted or even encouraged.

New is best. New, shiny, exciting, that’s what is going to make you excited!

Divorce is accepted because there’s no way the wrongful person will change. Move on, improve yourself and find someone you deserve. Hashing through the same old arguments and expecting that person to have a change of heart is just putting yourself through unneeded torture. People don’t change and there’s someone out there that will accept you for who you are, that will give you what you need and that will love you in the way you need to be loved.

I was reading in Ezekiel last night, flipping through my highlighted verses, and skimmed over Ezekiel chapter 36.

On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will settle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt.

Ezekiel 36:33

I’ve read this verse many times. Over and over. I just love how, regardless of how many times you read something, new lessons always pop up.

Isn’t it interesting that God didn’t tell the people “I will build a new city for you, I will give you the homes and land of your dreams!”. Nope, he said “You’ll stay where you are and I will rebuild your towns and all the ruins around you”. I wonder how many people heard that and thought “Drag, I totally wanted to move somewhere new. This rebuilding stuff will be a lot of work…”

This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden;

Ezekiel 36:35

God’s plan wasn’t just to rebuild their lands to their former glory. It was to completely renovate them. To make them so beautiful that people noticed and that they would compare them to the garden of Eden. God’s plan wasn’t to give them back what they had before, but to give them a place that they had only dreamed about. A beautiful, lush land. A place where they had pure relationship and interaction with him.

God is into restoration…but more than that, he’s into transformation. If you obey God, if you return to him, on that very day, he says, he will cleanse you and he will resettle your towns and rebuild your ruins. I love the end of verse 36:

I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.

Ezekiel 36:36b

It’s a neat practice to put accentuation on different words in a verse. If you put accentuation on the second ‘I’, it shows that GOD will be the one that works, HE will be the one that does the rebuilding. If you put the accentuation on “will”, it shows that God WILL do it! He has said it and he won’t back out of it! God never goes back on his word, he never changes his mind, what he has said he will do, he WILL do!

Just because God is promising you the Promised Land, doesn’t mean that this land will be a new place for you. It doesn’t mean that it will be somewhere different. It could very well be that God’s promise means that such an immense change will take place that you won’t even recognize your current land. That it will be everything that you could have ever dreamed about and more.

I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake.

Ezekiel 36:32

He is restoring your land, he is building your garden of Eden, not for your sake…but for his. This isn’t about your glory, it’s about his. Everything you’re going through is about bringing God Glory. Your life isn’t about making you happy or making people notice you, it’s about bringing people to the recognition that God has given us everything we need and is the reason our lands have been restored and transformed.

If you are praying for transformation in your life, for restoration, God will do it. HE will do it. You need to step back, to be still and allow him to work. He will transform your life, your lands, your marriage, your children, your parents, your job…whatever it is, into something you never expected it to be, into a garden of Eden that people step back and notice. Not only will God be the one to do the work, but he will do it. He has promised and God doesn’t make false promises. Be patient. Don’t set boundaries of time. Give God space to work and with the time you would have spent worrying and making demands, spend that with God instead and you will be amazed at the changes you’ll see around you.

Aside

Freewill. That’s a hard thing to explain in a Christian life. We have been given freewill, that’s part of the uniqueness of being human, a feature that God purposely put in us. But freewill means that we can choose to do what we want, when we want, how we want…and potentially live with the consequences, good or bad.

This could mean though, that we subconsciously tend to think of God as an errand boy. A force that picks up the pieces behind us and deals with how we have decided life should go. We often get confused about God’s roll in our minds and hearts and how his influence in our daily lives actually leads us to decisions and choices that without his direction we would not have come to. Because this just wouldn’t be true ‘freewill’ would it?

The bible says that God directs our paths, that we might make our own plans, but that it is his plans that ultimately come to pass (Proverbs 16:9). God is in control of every single little detail in every single little persons life. He has set out the times for us, Acts 17:26 says, the exact places where we will live. He’s not piecing the puzzle of our choices together in order to clean up a mess in our wake, he’s directing our every step and thought in order to bring us to a specific place. A place where we acknowledge him with everything we do, a place where we realize that without him we can do nothing, a place where we give him all the glory…a place where we have relationship with him.

We need to be careful about how we think about freewill. The world teaches us that we are entitled to freewill, that it is our right. But (a) we aren’t actually entitled to anything and (b) true freewill is following the path that God is setting out for us and knowing that the best choice is to follow his direction.

When I was running from God people would often ask me about my hometown and at the end of my reply I would always, without exception, add “But I’ll never move back”. And every single time these words would come out of my mouth, a little voice in the back of my mind would whisper “God’s going to make you move back”. God was working in my life, directing my path, allowing me to make certain decisions that would lead me to know that he was the only satisfaction I would find…he was gently directing my steps back towards his throne. It didn’t matter what plans I made for myself, he was putting desires in my heart and setting my feet in a certain path in order to bring me back home.

I lay in bed one night and God called my name. He asked me, once again, to pick up his word and start reading again. And so I did, but I told him, point blank, I would only read one verse a day. That’s all I had time for. But God knew, he knew that once I picked up that bible he would flood into me and I wouldn’t be able to stop reading after just one verse. He knew that he would put a hunger in me, such a strong desire for him, that it wouldn’t be quenched with just one verse.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

You can make your plans, tell God how it’s going to go, but God already knows. He has lead you to that spot, he’s allowed and placed everything in your life to lead you to every decision you’ll ever make. And once you stop fighting him, once you allow him to take your hand and lead you in his way, you will see that it’s so much better than trying to forge your way through the mess of life.

There’s two ways to get what you want. Either push your way towards your goals and fight your way to the top or allow God to take control, lead you and have the peace of mind that whatever happens is in his hands. Either way, in the end, you’re going to end up just where God wants you. You might as well just surrender your life to him, it’s so much more simple.

A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?

Proverbs 20:24

 

Aside

I think about the amount of excuses I make in order to avoid taking the steps of obedience that God is asking of me, and it blows me away. When God told me to return to my commitment of marriage to my husband, there were SO many excuses. But he doesn’t love me. But he lives so far away. But he’ll never give me another chance. But he’s dating someone else. But my friends will think I’m crazy. When God told me to move back to my hometown, there was another handful of excuses. But I don’t want to live in a small town. But it will cost so much money to move. But my friends will think I’m insane. But I have no money. But I won’t have a job. But I’ll have to live with my parents again….

There are SO many human excuses we can make to avoid doing what God has told us to do!

God has told me to take certain steps in my life. Before I left my husband, he told me to keep trying. He told me not to move. He told me to keep reading my bible. He told me to keep going to church. But with my human eyes, these didn’t seem like good options. I couldn’t see how doing these things would change anything.

Obedience to God isn’t about making sense. It’s not about doing what makes sense to us! It’s about being obedient to our GOD and trusting that whatever he’s asking of us is in his plan for our lives. It’s about just doing it! Just taking those steps to shut our mouths and obey him.

God doesn’t care about our excuses, our excuses don’t make sense to him. He has infinite power over our lives, our excuses are just empty words to him. He can see the whole picture, he knows that if we just listen to him and take the steps to do what he’s telling us to do, everything will make sense to us eventually.

Looking back at the excuses I made to avoid returning to my marriage and my hometown, I see that none of them were valid. I moved back to my hometown and somehow the money wasn’t an issue. I moved back in with my parents and don’t mind it a bit. I am loving my life in a small town and the quietness and peacefulness it’s bringing. And I had a job within a week of moving back. My friends, the ones that thought I was crazy for taking both the step to return to my commitment to my marriage and to return to my hometown, have faded away. It turns out we weren’t as close as I thought we were and their opinions aren’t important to me anymore.

God has taken care of all of my concerns and shown me that I needed to just take that leap of faith…he’s shown me that it wasn’t really that big of a leap, the ground was closer than I thought, and that cliff I thought I was jumping off was just a tiny hill. God has shown me that even when something seems impossible to me, I need to obey him and he will prove to me that nothing is impossible for him. God has shown me that I only need to be obedient, even when it doesn’t make sense at all, and he will provide all of my needs. God has shown me the power of prayer.

God doesn’t want to hear our excuses. To him, our opinion of his commands are laughable. He chuckles when we try to tell him that our situations are impossible to fix or that his requests can’t be accomplished…All God asks is that we obey him. And when we do obey him, when we shut up and do what he says, we will see just how big our God is. He will bless us in our obedience! And the biggest blessing we could ever ask for is to see the power that our God is capable of!

 

I was thinking yesterday about my experiences trying to run away from my marriage.

One of the memories that came to mind was the weekends I spent with my boyfriend. I was very invested in the relationship and had told him I was in love with him. We were talking about moving in together, how we would raise kids together and he had mentioned buying me a ring. My heart was more involved with him than it had been with any other man. But still…still there was something missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it. There was a wall between us, a level that I just couldn’t get to. It didn’t matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t allow myself to fully relax with him. I enjoyed his company, I had fun, but I knew that my heart wasn’t as invested as it needed to be…there was something missing.

I always looked forward to the weekends we spent together. When I had time off of work it was spent with my boyfriend and every time I had this image of the weekends being relaxing. I wanted to feel rejuvenated, refreshed and content. And I’m sure that’s what people saw me enjoying with him. But that’s not entirely what my heart felt. Every weekend ended with the feeling that I needed something more, that we had rushed around too much and that the goal hadn’t been achieved. I felt more restless than before. And that feeling almost left me panicky. What was wrong that I couldn’t reach that goal? What was wrong with me that I couldn’t break that invisible wall down?

Being that my husband is involved with someone else right now, I tend, as most people would, to believe what my eyes are telling me. They look happy in pictures, his family thinks he’s happy, life seems to be going pretty smoothly…But if I remember how my life seemed to others when I was rebelling against God and how I still appeared happy and content to those around me, I should know that you can’t always believe what you are seeing.

Chances are, if you can see trouble, there’s even more going on under the surface. Like rapids on the river. If there’s movement on the top, there’s even more current underneath.

If you are in a situation where you are judging the book by the cover and not trusting that God is working even when you can’t see it, stop. If God has given you specific instructions and you are following his commands, keep going regardless of what your eyes are telling you. Trust that God knows what he is doing, because he really does and he really is. Be obedient, take the steps that he is instructing you to take, and trust that he is working on the other side of the mountain. There’s a point to God’s instructions. He isn’t just asking to you to walk a certain way for fun. He’s doing it for a reason.

When I was dating my boyfriend, everyone around thought we were the cutest thing. We looked good together, we were happy together, we had fun together, we made an effort for each other and we told people how happy we were. We were everything we were supposed to be as a couple and when you looked at us, you would have thought that everything was going smoothly.

Don’t make assumptions from what you see. There is so much more happening under the surface.

God is working even when it doesn’t seem like he is even looking in your direction.

When I was sleeping with my boyfriend I was thinking of my husband (two years later!). But I wasn’t telling my closest friends that. When we would go on dates I would wish he would do things my husband used to do. But I wasn’t telling my friends that. During sex I would wish he would do things or say things my husband used to do. But I wouldn’t dream of telling my friends that.

If your spouse is running away from your marriage, don’t trust what your eyes are seeing or what your ears are hearing of their circumstances. They are searching for God and until they find him, they will never be content.

Satan’s lies are temporary thrills so why would we stay in them permanently?

Every single time I would say ‘never’ about my marriage, my heart squeezed inside me. “I will never move back to my home town”: my heart told me I would. “I would never try things again with my husband”: My heart told me I would. Whatever a ‘never’ was attached to what I was saying, I knew in my heart it wasn’t true.

Don’t trust what your rebellious spouse is saying or what their lifestyle looks like because chances are high that the exact opposite is happening in their heart and they know it.

This is where being prayer warrior is critical. Bend those knees, get on your face before God and know that even when you don’t see him working, he is! Allow God the space to work in your spouses life because he can do a much better job than you could even attempt.

After about eight months of me living my own life and moving to a new city, my husband and I started ‘dating’ again. There was a “God Moment” while I drove away from my hometown after a visit and after a phone call to my hubby, a long relieving talk, tears and the comfort of hearing each others voices, we decided to get to know each other again in a dating-like process.

During this unfortunately short lived period, my hubby and I chatted about how we had dated other people. It was weird, we thought, how we seemed to unknowingly be attracted to people who reminded us in looks and character to each other. We guessed that we had developed a “type” after being married for almost six years. I was now attracted to fit, humorous, bearded men (funny, but strangely true) and he was attracted to strong, outgoing and brunette women. I have even seen pictures of women he has dated and it’s strange the similarities there are between them and me.

I think that it goes deeper than developing a “type” once you’re married.

In their book, Real Marriage, Mark and Grace Driscol say that when you are married, your standard for beauty needs to be your spouse. But I really think that this isn’t capturing the depth of this standard. It’s not that it needs to be your spouse, when you try to run away from your marriage, you realize that your standard IS your spouse. I believe that once you have committed to a covenant marriage in front of God, you have also committed to a lifetime of automatically being drawn to either your spouse, or, if you’re running from your marriage, people that have your spouse’s traits. Which ultimately means that you are craving your spouse but not acknowledging that fact.

Isn’t it amazing, bewildering really, that when you look around at re-married couples, how many of them are with spouses that remind you of their previous spouse? Whenever someone leaves a marriage, you always hear them say this line “I’ll never marry a person who…” and they describe something about their spouse. But when they commit to another relationship, nine times out of ten, that new person is extremely similar to their spouse. It happens all the time! Why is it that we don’t question this? Why haven’t we tried to go deeper when we see this happen? We just assume that the re-married or re-committed person is happy and that they just are *shrug* attracted to people like their spouse. And we move on.

But let’s stop and think.

The majority, if not all, re-married people have remarried someone extremely similar to their spouse.

Almost 70% of second marriages fail and the number just rises after that.

Why?

Because it’s easier to get a divorce after the first one? I’m thinking it’s deeper than that.

Because you’re less connected to the second spouse than you were the first?

Because you are really searching for your spouse, your initial second half?

Keep questioning it, keep asking God for answers. Don’t just allow society to carry you with the flow and tell you what to think or numb that gut feeling gnawing at you. Keep searching.

I went to the bar one night when I was living my rebellious life and there was a guy there that was trying to get me to go home with him. I was dating someone at the time and very invested in that relationship and I rejected this guy and told him about my boyfriend several times. For some reason he thought it was a good tactic to ask me one question about the guy I was dating and to try to describe him from that one answer. It turned out that this random guy at the bar was right on the money about the guy I was dating, but what he didn’t realize was that he was actually describing my husband too and making me realize how many similarities there were between my husband and the guy I was dating.

I don’t have any bible verses to back this theory up, but I do have personal experience. I am a very strong and slightly (ha) stubborn person. I wouldn’t try to feel this way on purpose. With all of my heart I was trying to move on from my husband and trying to be free of my past. But even in that strength and stubbornness, even in all the ‘happy’ times and even with all the guys I tried dating, I have realized that there is more than just a “type” that you develop after you’re married. It’s ingrained in you, whether you like it or not. Once the vows for your initial marriage are said, once that covenant is committed to, you have a standard of attraction that is your spouse and that standard can only be imitated and never duplicated. You will never be satisfied with anyone else until you are with your spouse, realizing that you were searching for them all along.