When I read his message, I realized this was a written summary of what God has shown us about marriage over the past year or so.
We've only been married four years, but people tell us we've been through more significant trials and attacks than most couples. All these circumstantial trials have put our marriage to the test. The good thing about trials is God uses them to make you open to his precious wisdom. If we are honest, we have probably applied God's wisdom out of simple desperation. But we keep finding that when we choose to apply the wisdom God gives us, he really does bless it.
When I listened to Shane speak these words on New Year's Eve, I realized that our marriage is the one sure thing I have right now besides my relationship with God. How could this be, when just last year I felt like giving up?!
I am so thankful for my husband and proud to be his wife. I am thankful he is so much stronger than me physically and emotionally, and I'm not ashamed of that. I am thankful he is humble enough to want to listen to God, who wants nothing but the best for us. I am thankful he wants to lead our family, even though he still doesn't specifically know where we're going. I'm thankful for his many :) weaknesses, because every time he hurts me, I remember God uses all things to make me like his Son.
I could not say these things last year.
The rubber hits the road as we learn about our marriages, but we can stand by our husbands and say, "Yes, Lord."
I hope Shane's message encourages you in your marriage today. (Names have been changed.*)
Ephesians 5:25-33 says… "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
I’m Shane Potratz and I was Candi’s* youth director from a young age, all the way through high school. When I first met her, she was 11 years old. She was just a sweet little girl with a winning smile. She also had an appreciation for humor, and a little Klein sassiness. I quickly gave her the nickname "Candles in Charge," like the old TV show “Charles in Charge,” because I could tell she thought she was in charge. From a young age, Candi was a leader at church. When I started at Immanuel, she was one of the few who were actually excited to be at church and wanted to learn about God. There’s always been a hunger in her heart for God, and that is her most endearing quality. Over the years, I enjoyed getting to know her and watch her love for God and others blossom. One of Candi’s qualities is faithfulness: She was at almost every youth group function, even if it meant she would be one of two or three kids. She also has a great heart for people and desire to see them know God. During her senior year, it was her idea to start a weekly breakfast club for high schoolers, a time to eat and share in Christian fellowship and God’s Word. She even helped cook! Over the years, we spent lots of time gathering in youth groups talking about God, asking deep questions like, “When was the last time you cried?,” and laughing at awkward movie clips. Sometimes the discussion even ventured into the topic of boys…
Enter Jim*… During Christmas break of 2007, Candi said she wanted to come over and introduce Kati and I to a “friend” she had made at college. All I knew was that he was in a band. We spent an evening playing cards and he didn’t say too much, but we made sure to ask him lots of questions. I could tell early on that he was a thinker, and had some depth to him. From a few other meetings with him, I could also see how God gifted him with creativity and thinking outside the box. He can take seemingly unrelated things and create music out of them. I was interested in hearing what his band sounded like, and it made me smile to watch him and his friends having fun using their random gifts and instruments for, as I call it, a unique way of worshiping God. He was definitely one of a kind, and comfortable in his own skin. I knew that Jim loved God and over time, he found out he loved another person who loved God.After a few more years of dating, it became inevitable that Jim and Candles were meant for each other, and now, here we are on the precipice of the biggest decision of their lives. Marriage will change you forever, and I want to tell you about the big plans that God has for each of you, as a husband and as a wife.Plans to make you… “Holy.”Did you know that the main purpose of marriage is not to make you happy? You will definitely have times of great happiness, but God’s main purpose is to use your marriage as a tool to make you holy.First I want to tell you, Jim, what God has planned for you as the husband. Your role.Your role, Jim, is to love Candi LIKE NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER LOVED her BEFORE. She has friends who love her, she has parents who love her. But no one else can do what you are called to do as a husband.The first verse of the Ephesians passage says that Christ displayed his love for his Bride—the church, by giving up his life for her. “As Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Christ is the ultimate husband to esteem, and for men to follow by example. His love drove him to his death. His love for his Bride was so deep that He gave up the one thing most dear to him, his very breath…Jim, God is calling you to love in a big way! The way you show your love means you sacrifice. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.” Jim Thomas, as you know him, is going to die a slow death, and it is going to be hard. Marriage will test your heart, your motives, and expose your first love. However hard it is to resist this death of your self, welcome it, man, because it will make you holy, and this is God’s greatest purpose for you and your marriage. It is beautiful to see what God can do with self-giving love.But, Christ loved us SO THAT (as it says in the scripture)“HE MIGHT SANCTIFY HER… THAT SHE MIGHT BE HOLY and without blemish, in splendor…"Jim, as a husband, you get to follow in the footsteps of Christ. God will use you as Candi’s husband to sanctify her, that she might be holy and without blemish, in splendor. As you love her on a daily basis – and the old Jim dies, and the new Jim rises up to this honorable place of loving your wife – you make your wife holy and splendid!To Love your wife as your life, Cherish it, nourish it…
Jim, let me put it this way. You get to make Candi look good. When a woman knows she is cherished, provided for, noticed, special, loved, protected… she glows, she looks beautiful. As a graphic designer, you know how to make something look good. Your job is to make Candi look good by loving her with the love that God gives you for her. Do what it takes. Your love for her, given by God, will make her shine, presented without blemish, in splendor. Because that’s what God’s love does to our hearts. We know we are chosen, valued, cherished, and loved by our heavenly Father, not just by His words, but by his actions as well.
THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH…A PROFOUND MYSTERY.
You both are leaving your families now. You are assuming new roles. As you become one flesh, you will now have one head, and one heart. Jim, you will be the head now. This means you lead. You make the tough decisions, you protect your wife and family, you are responsible for what happens to your family. You set the example of faith in your house to follow. You pray for your wife, silently and out loud. It is you, Jim. Don’t slack off. Don’t allow Candi to lead—you will be the head now of your body. It says that Christ washes his Bride with the water of the Word. Read the Word, read it aloud to your family. Start family devotions from day one… Establish a habit yourself everyday to devote to growing in your faith together… Use your God-given authority to bless your wife.“And let the wife see that she respects her husband.”NOW CANDI. The wife is addressed briefly here, but this is huge! And it may be the hardest thing you will ever do.Your role is to be the heart in your marriage. You get to set the atmosphere in your home by always inviting your family into God’s peace and joy. You have a strong gift of hospitality. Use that gift first to serve Jim and your family, before hosting others. Use that smile of yours daily. Express yourself to Jim. Find small ways to show affection and love on a regular basis. When it’s hard to be joyful, you will learn to find more of your own peace and joy in God and not your circumstances. And we can’t forget that the previous two verses in this Ephesians passage tell the wife to be subject to your husband in every thing. I know you like to be in charge, and this will be challenging for you. You are no longer Candles in Charge. But learn how to follow and respect Jim’s lead, even when he doesn’t do a very good job at it. And he will screw up, he will hurt you. But he is making the decision today to never love anyone else like he will love you, and he is choosing today the choice he will make every day till he dies. To love you. He will not give up on you. He can lead you with the help of God. Believe in him, encourage him, and appreciate him.
Now that you know your roles, don’t try to do each other’s jobs. Instead, humble yourselves to this calling; it is a high calling. God will bless you so much!
In summary, MARRIAGE is a mysterious tool that God wants to use to make us holy, like His Son, through everyday life. No one is ever ready to take this step of faith together. But that’s why your marriage is based on your faith in God. You have chosen to submit to the lead of your God, no matter where it takes you, knowing that he will bless you and make you holy together. I praise God for the kind of love he has chosen to grow between you. Just like it is engraved in your wedding ring: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Let the world see a marriage that reveals the love between Christ and his Bride. Will you accept the challenge and move into your new roles? God will be with you! Go get 'em guys! GLORY!