“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
In Christian circles marriage is often humorously described as one of God’s most effective tools for our sanctification. All humor aside, two human beings living so intimately together will definitely expose our strengths and weaknesses in 1080 HD. There’s simply no hiding it.
One of the greatest gifts of marriage may be gleaned from this insightful proverb. Life can be lonely and Christian ministry especially. Having a believing life partner to pick you up is one of God’s most precious gifts. My wife has certainly been a source of tremendous comfort, encouragement and objective input throughout the last 20 years of ministry at GBC. But, we’ve always had schedules that constricted how much focused quality time we could spend together. Well, the sabbatical was designed in part to address that.
How Close is Too Close?
The sabbatical afforded my wife and I the opportunity to spend the longest period of uninterrupted time alone together we have ever enjoyed in our 33 years of marriage. That could be a really good thing or a really challenging thing. What would she think and how would she feel when after several weeks I’m still not leaving for work?
The truth be known, in total, we spent 5 weeks of the summer break together in the confined space of a medium sized RV… and (wait for it) she never kicked me out – not once! It turns out it was a really good thing. We enjoyed each other’s undivided attention whenever we wanted. We hiked together, fly-fished together, read together, rode bikes together, took in scenery together, rode ATV’s together, saw wild life together, swam together, laughed together, prayed together, cried together and rode a zip-line together (and much more). It helps when you have developed some mutual interests over the years.
What did you learn?
I learned we can pray together much more than we have.
I learned I can listen more carefully than I have.
I learned we can reflect more deeply upon truth together than we have.
I learned mentally and emotionally “being there” is much better than simply physically being there.
I learned we can talk about future plans and desires more frequently than we have.
I learned I need to find a way not to loose this level of intimacy.
I learned I have a tremendous friend and partner in my wife.
I learned watching Sheri scream on a zip-line is LOADS of fun.
One of my wife’s favorite songs from our youth was “You’ve Got a Friend” as recorded by Carole King. Some of the words include:
When you’re down in troubles
And you need some love and care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you got to do is call
And I’ll be there
Yes I will
You’ve got a friend
Christ is the only unwavering and unchanging friend we will ever have. He is the one who truly knows EVERYTHING about us there is to know and yet still loves us. But He comes to us via other believers. His word of grace He has chosen to dispense through human beings. We are the lips, hands and feet of Christ, as it were. Christian marriage is the most intimate of relationships in which Christ our friend comes to us in our spouse. Truly, when this is the case, “two are better than one.”