He’s Seen It All

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“John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:15-18).

Again, I say, “Amen”. As wonderful as our love may be within our own abilities, his love surpasses it, as He came before us. He is eternal in His love. He rises above history. He rises above pain, injury and loss because he was “before”. He saw us praying in that old Valiant, walking on the beach, me forgetting your birthday, our babies being born, joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats, giving and stealing… and said, “I have surpassed all this because I was before…”  

As I think of my poor ability to trust in Him I also think of his faithfulness. Although our relationship has been often marked by the shadows of self-centeredness and blame, He has always been loyal. He has been devoted and trustworthy even when we have not. Truly from the fullness and abundance of His mercy and grace we have received one blessing upon another. What is it but His grace and our response of faith that has kept us “in love”? What is it but His mercy that calls us to rise up and love again following hurt and disappointment? What kind of favor is it that would enable us to touch each other in the deepest places of human affection? “Nothing but the blood…”

Oh that our union would be an ever greater testimony of the “truth” revealed in the love we have found in Jesus our Christ; that we would never be trapped by the rigidity of the “old man” but that His favor would be our every breath, our every heartbeat, our every word. It will be in this communion with the Christ where we will be graced to behold God and see Him in greater clarity.

“Very soon the shadow will give way to Reality. The partial will pass into the Perfect. The foretaste will lead to the Banquet. The troubled path will end in Paradise. A hundred candle-lit evenings will come to their consummation in the marriage supper of the Lamb. And this momentary marriage will be swallowed up by Life. Christ will be all and in all. And the purpose of marriage will be complete.”     John Piper

Jesus, you are greater than all our sin, especially our sin of seeking greater things within our own abilities. You have taken our times of weakness and turned them into strength. May we together be reminded that You have surpassed us and that we indeed are second. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Missing the Visitation?

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“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:10-14).

“That we should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of GOD which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him.” ― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

He entered into our marriage, and though our marriage was made through Him, we did not see Him there – not really. He was right in front of us but like the men on the Road to Emmaus we were blind to His presence. Jesus, the very Voice of God, makes special visitations into our union yet we look right past Him. Even though we are joined to Him – making us His very own – we give Him no welcome or at best a conditional, religious curtsey.

Yet if we would fully yield ourselves to Him as the author and finisher of our love, Jesus would delightfully enter into our marriage – not as a guest but as one entering our intimacy. If we would recognize Him through our mutual communion, He would take us to places of deep love and affection for one another. If we would take hold of our new birth as an active cherished possession, together we would see the One and Only and with Him see eternity.

Lord, we believe these things. Help us in our unbelief. We embrace this sacred inheritance as children of God – the ones given the right to touch the holy. Help us to not treat it as common. Oh that we would trust You with our love; that we would share with You all that we share with each other – and more. Oh the wonder we would see, the wonder of our one and only true love who has come from God and longs to show us grace and mercy, truth and honesty, fullness and completion.

Lord, You have walked among us and know the struggles we face in living before the Father according to His high calling. Thank You for continuing to model for us a walk of utter dependence upon the power of the Father. Today help us to “see again” the reality and power of your dwelling place within us. Come O Come Emmanuel.

True Light

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“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:6-9)

“I’ve seen a constant formula at work in my life: the less I receive from God, the more I demand from my wife; the more I receive from God, the more I am set free to give to my wife. The best thing you can do for your marriage is to fill your soul with God. Start defining disappointment with your spouse as spiritual hunger, a cosmic call to worship. Marriage is a wonderful institution, but it is limited. It can’t replace God. Don’t ask it to.” – Gary Thomas

A Christ centered marriage is a calling from God to be witnesses of the light of God within us. Witnesses not only as individuals redeemed by Christ, but as a couple whose marriage has been sanctified by Christ. As I think of this calling I am humbled as I reflect upon my lack of faithfulness to its charge. I look at my marital track record and feel compelled to confess that I have not always been a great mirror of His light – first to Robyn, then the boys and then to my community. In spite of this record God has not withdrawn His call on me to image Him as a husband. In fact my limits as a husband, father and follower of Jesus serve only to magnify the high truth that the love of Jesus is greater than my failings. I have no inherent capacity to “light” my marriage, yet I am mercied by God to bear witness of His love and power. Let me say it again. It is in view of my shortcomings and failures as a husband where God has given me a podium on which to stand and shout – “I AM NOT THE LIGHT. THE ‘TRUE LIGHT’ IS HERE AND GIVES LIGHT TO EVERY MARRIAGE, EVEN MINE!”

So as I testify, let me do it with the clarity and boldness of the Baptizer and the weakness of Paul (2 Cor 12:1-10). I declare in full confidence, there is a Light within me that brings illumination to the paths of marriage and to the dangers of my self-centered “singleness”. Let this testimony be one of few words and many deeds, knowing that my words often dim the Light and my deeds place it on the lampstand, so that it may give light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5:15).

Lord, ever let me be the light of the world, the light of my marriage as I reflect the brightness of your love within my heart. In my union with the one I love, may I never be a shadow of your light. Take from me my darkness by shining anew in me your “true light”. In the name of the “Bright and Morning Star”, Amen.

God’s Light Within

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“In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1: 4-5)

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have a problem – Duh. I often attempt to make my life work by my own efforts and energy. Similarly I try to make my marriage work by the flesh of my own self effort. What’s that about?

Paul said, “Beginning with the Spirit will I try to complete God’s work in me through the flesh” (Galatians 3.3)? It has been asked, “Could the deeds of my life be accomplished without ever consulting and depending on the Spirit of God?” The answer to that question in my life has too often been, “Yes”. I tend to either do those things I know I can humanly achieve and feel safe in or mask my achievements with religious jargon and “churchy” deeds robed in alleged faith. I have been granted access to participate in the divine nature of God but often choose to go it alone. I am invited into the grand adventure of genuine surrender but reject it for the safety of the shore. Why do I go there? I am not alone.

If there is any true life in our marriages it is because we have been touched by the love of the creative light of God (whether we acknowledge that touch or not). If there is distance and illness it is because we have ignored that light and have not fully understood who it is who would illuminate us. We practice darkness in a relationship that is intended to be the most reflective of the union between God and man on earth. The light has shined in our darkness and in spite of its brilliance we are time and again left unmoved.

What if I applied to my marriage the supernatural effect of his life and light abiding in me? What if I sought His power which is deep within and from there released my love to Robyn? What impact would that have in taking our marriage to new places of intimacy, trust and power? Wouldn’t it be a grand experiment and testimony to the life and light of Christ if we would all dare to live there?

Oh Lord, forgive us of our self-will and simple-mindedness when we have access to your ever increasing glory. Release in us the impressiveness of your light? Open our eyes to your wonders. Take our breath away as we have been graced to behold your face – your bright and beautiful face. May love never be safe again. Amen.

 

There is More

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“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

“… the new creation is a work of God … for who can create spiritual light, infuse a principle of spiritual life, take away the heart of stone, and give an heart of flesh, or produce faith, but God?” John Gill

How different would my marriage be if I applied this absolute truth as my source and foundation – “Through Him all things were made”?

Jesus is the creator of all relationships and all that is good in them. Yet, we find ourselves constantly trying to manufacture and manipulate for ourselves the kind of relationship that will make us comfortable – stagnant really. If our mate begins to cause discomfort the walls arise; withdrawal and retreat take the place of union and oneness.

Some of us enter into marriage with great expectations and anticipate that our love is powerful enough as it is. Others enter in with great caution and reluctance to release their hearts to another. Regardless of which extreme we find ourselves, we need a Creator. In Christian marriage there is a “light” which exists as both partners have been redeemed and filled with the presence of His Spirit. Yet, too often we allow our relationships to remain at “Day One” (Genesis 1: 3-5) and miss the greater creative work of God. Jesus was not satisfied with creation after the first day. The glory of the “Light” was not enough. There was much more to be done – so it is in marriage. What needs formation in our marriages? Will we allow the Maker to create it? Let us resist our fallen tendency to try and create it on your own – or worse – be blind to the fact that there is more.

“Without Him nothing was made that has been made.” Paul adds, “… and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17b). Today, take the time to recognize and adore Him for what He has created and preserved in your life and marriage and from there petition Him to continue His creative work.

Creator Lord, we see there is much left undone in our marriages. We recognize you as the one source of all creative action in our lives. We appeal to you to take our relationship to new places of love, intimacy, honesty and power. We admit our failure to manufacture these things on our own and pledge to you and one another our desire for “more” – in the power of Jesus.

The Voice

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“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1, 2

“God’s voice is still and quiet and easily buried under an avalanche of clamour.”  Charles Stanley

In the beginning of marriage was the Word, the very Voice of God … and the Voice was present in the heart of marriage. This Voice is the beginning and the end of marriage. Are we listening? As we listen so shall our marriages reflect the heart of God.

The Voice was the creative source in the beginning when all was void and without form. Out of nothing God said, “Let there be light and there was light.” Let there be power and there was power. No doubt there are times in the best of relationships when marriage can be defined as “void and without form”. Words are said; deeds are done that harm and splinter the hopes of union. Bitterness rises; trust wanes; love is conditional; questions blind our minds. But if out of the “nothingness” of pre-creation came “light” and genesis, is He not able to bring the same into a union needing his creative touch?

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God…” (2 Corinthians 5:16-18a). As new creations in Christ we have the capacity to do relationships in whole new way. We no longer have to see one another from our self-centered prism. This new kind of connection can especially apply to our marriages. There is now a supernatural power accessible to us even when it appears that love is dead; and “all this is from God”.

Will we choose re-creation? Will we hear the Voice?

Take time today to listen carefully to the author and perfector of our love and faith, believing He will make a difference in your marriage. He is not done speaking to you.

Lord, you are the God of creation in our marriage. Speak into us with the breath of your Voice. Speak into our ears the tender words of your love. Let us hear the laughter of lovers. Let us know the passion of your heart. Let us taste the freshness of new life in your Spirit. Romance us deep into the night. In Jesus’ Name.