The end of a fairy tale, romance story, or romantic comedy often leaves the viewer with the same message, “…and they lived happily ever after.” You know the stories. The man battles evil to win his princess, or the unlikely couple finds a way to love each other, or the struggling couple endures enormous conflict but in the end the world is perfect. The story fades to black with the happy couple figuratively, or sometimes literally, riding in to the sunset. The fact of the matter is that in that moment the world actually is perfect.
Ask any married couple to describe their wedding day, and they will likely smile fondly as they reminisce on the moment when they looked into each others eyes and exchanged vows, or the moment when they shared their first kiss as husband and wife. In that instant, the world was perfect.
And then it wasn’t.
Our message series, “Happily Ever After”, examines the not-so-perfect times in our relationship with Jesus. Happily ever after is not a myth. It’s possible, but it takes work. These blog posts will cover most of the same material from Sunday’s messages, but through the context of a marriage relationship. I pray that it will be helpful for married and single people alike as the principles are applicable to everybody. I believe it will not only help us be the person God wants us to be, but also what to look for in a person we think God may want us to marry if we feel called to married life.
Part one of the series examined priorities to set in our hearts in order to be prepared to face hard times. Priorities are not preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance is what you do to avoid a hardship. For example, regular oil changes on your car will prevent certain kinds of engine damage. Brushing your teeth will prevent certain kinds of sicknesses and diseases. Exercise will keep your body healthy longer…at least that’s what people tell me. Priorities won’t prevent hard times for coming your way in your marriage, but they will prepare you get through them and come out stronger for it. If you don’t prepare, you’ll be unprepared.
Preparation acknowledges a spiritual adversary
1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) — 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Our enemy doesn’t want a single marriage to last. When you stood with your spouse and said, “I do,” he was in a back corner saying, “We’ll see.” If we don’t believe that, we won’t take any steps to prepare for his inevitable assault on our marriage and family.
Preparation makes prayer a priority.
Prayer is where the created converses with their Creator. Interestingly, Jesus often spent time alone with His Father in heaven. (Luke 5:16) Why? Because it was a priority for Him. Jesus valued His relationship with God. He never took it for granted that God was His Father. Instead, Jesus regularly carved out time in His day to “slip away” from the crowd and pray.
One of the things I am learning is that prayer is a result of keeping God in the center of everything I do. If prayer is not a priority for me, it could be because I have boxed God out of certain places in my life. The only thing that will elevate the priority of prayer in your own life is intentionally keeping God in the center of every aspect of your life.
What does this have to do with marriage? Well, is the Lord central in your marriage? Sometimes we make the mistake of making God “first” in our lives and marriages to some pretty painful results. Like the pastor that is intimately connected with their congregation but emotionally divorced from their spouse. Like the deacon that loves to serve the community, but can’t eat dinner with their family. Like the Sunday school teacher that prays with their students but not their own children. You get the picture.
God is honored, and our marriages and families are strengthened, when He is made central to everything we do. When He is central in our lives, continuous consistent prayer is the result. Where is God in your life? Is He segregated to Sunday afternoons or morning devotions or sermon prep times, or is He smack in the middle of every single thing you do no matter how mundane or significant it may seem?
Your answer may very well define the ability of you and/or your marriage to withstand an attack of the enemy.