One of my favorite quotes on marriage comes from Dave Harvey, author of When Sinners say 'I Do'. He says:
How easy it its to use the phrase, 'We are having marriage problems,' as if the marriage created them.Marriage still remains, in and of itself, an inanimate object incapable of producing anything - however, the two persons in a marriage are capable of producing problems. Hence the title of Harvey's book: When Sinners Say 'I Do.' This means your worst fears, yes, will probably be realized. As someone who has signed up for the AOM Event said to me a few days ago: "Over the last month I haven't voiced frustrations to my spouse because I was waiting for the weekend to come so he can begin to identify his problems - then I realized, 'Yikes, maybe God wants to identify problems in me.'"
Fear in marriage. ID-ing problems in you is almost certainly the case and might cause us to fear. This is similar to reading 1 John as we've started doing on Sunday Mornings - John forces you to re-examine if your faith is legit and to question if you really and truly know Christ. And, as I asked this past Sunday: What's the worse that can happen if you realize you are a massive problem to your marriage or wake-up to the reality that you really haven't trusted your life to Jesus?
Grace in marriage. See, the great thing about Jesus and encountering His plan for marriage is that He freely offers us this treasure that is totally foreign to what the world's solution and totally different from an improvement strategy that other religions would propose. That treasure is grace. Grace is God's love made active through an undeserved gift. That means at any moment -- even a moment of doubt, fear or even despair -- God can activate His love toward you even though you neither did anything to deserve it nor pushed a magic button to activate. All we have to do is really admit we need of His help and rescuing.
God's grace can change a marriage. If you recognize that you need God's help to be the spouse He calls you to be (notice not: "If you recognize your marriage needs God's help") and, through the conference, identify specific idols, bad habits, and hurtful attitudes, I'm confident He will begin to activate His love toward you (ie. show you grace). I'll give you two ways the Bible talks about grace and which I'm specifically praying for every person attending - (1) He will help you and your spouse truly put the past behind you (forgetting) and (2) He will patiently teach you how to say "No" to all the potential idols, bad habits, and hurtful attitudes that used to beset you (buttons you used to push to get what you want or a desire to get in the first and last word on an issue). Here is what God's Word says about how His grace through Jesus helps with both (1) & (2).
Not that I have already obtained this (being exactly like Jesus) or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Paul in Philippians 3:12-14).People don't just forget the past and move on. The past creeps back in or comes back up. It always does - apart from real grace. Not just an admission of guilt with an admission of forgiveness, but real divine power within that forgiveness that heals.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It [grace] teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).The grace of God is a patient but effective teacher to help you grow as a husband or wife. You can believe that God is going to change you and your spouse as you rely on His grace.
Take a chance on the AOM Event even though you will have to admit you need help - that's exactly the place where God can begin to activate His love in your life and that of your spouse.