Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bridal Shower Devotional for my Sweet Friend

Recently (and by recently, I mean May) I was asked to give the devotional at the bridal shower of a sweet friend.  I was honored, she is a dear girl who has babysat for my children and whom we love like family.  I was very humbled that I was asked after the shower by a couple different attendees to post a copy of the devotional on my blog.  More humbly still, I was reminded that I hadn't done it yet.  Humbled, I post it know, knowing my words are inadequate but that God's truth is in them still.
I am so passionate about marriage.  I feel so blessed by the man God has in my life and so grateful for the ways God has molded and refined us, grown us and humbled us, and carried us through difficult times.  Sitting down to prepare a short devotional was difficult.  There is so much I wanted to share with a new bride- I've learned so much in 15 years, and I know I have so much yet to learn.  I prayed for clarity and God's leading.  This is what he laid on my heart for my sweet friend.


J, you've spend a great deal of time dreaming of marriage and of the perfect wedding day.  I know it will be beautiful, but as you spend the next few weeks finishing up the preparations, I challenge you to purpose to spend double the amount of time meditating on the vows you are about to make.

I know you understand the biblical importance of covenant, so I will just briefly remind you today.  Covenant comes from a Hebrew word and is an agreement that brings with it a sense of cutting, a pact made between passing of flesh.  It involved blood and was a solemn and binding agreement relationship meant to last a lifetime.  In the Old Testament an animal would literally be cut in half and the agreeing parties would walk between the two halves saying, "Cut me in half if I break this covenant."  In today's traditional wedding, the center aisle between two families is a symbol of this.

Marriage is often referred to as the highest covenant because it is not just a covenant between man and woman but is simultaneously a covenant between the couple and God.

It is not just a contract as our society would have you believe. 

-A Covenant is base on trust.  A contract is based on distrust.
-A Covenant is based on unlimited responsibility.  A contract is based on limited liability.

-A Covenant is lifelong and not to be broken.  A contract can be broken by mutual consent.
(*Source:http://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/157757-marriage-a-covenant-or-a-contract/)

You are not entering into a marriage contract, you are entering in to a marriage covenant.  Your responsibility to that covenant is unlimited.

Traditional vows have some variation of 6 basic parts.
1) "I will love you as long as I live"- signifying kindness and self sacrifice
2) "I will honor you"- signifying thoughtfulness, attentiveness and respect
3)  "I will be to you what a wife (or husband) ought to be to a spouse"- signifying doing your part to meet your spouses needs
4)  "I will take you as you are" - signifying acceptance
5)  "I will forsake all others"- signifying faithfulness
6)  "I will do all this for better or worse, in sickness or in health, whether rich or poor...." -signifying the unconditional nature of the covenant

J, I don't know if you guys are writing your own vows or if you will chose some written for you, but I challenge you to make this the most thoughtful part of your ceremony and rehearse them until they are burned into your brain and onto your heart.

Your tastes will change, and while you will always look back fondly upon your choice of flowers and dress, ten years from now you'd have chosen differently.  What will not change are your vows.

People have told you marriage is hard.  People will offer you myriad different pieces of wonderful advice.  It is all head knowledge now.  It will mean infinitely more to you as time goes on and you "get" what people mean by hard times.

I hated people saying that a day may come when you'll question whether you chose the right spouse or you'll wish you weren't married or that your situation was different.  J, I can honestly tell you that for me those times have been very, very few.  (They usually had more to do with my own sinful heart that deficits in Marc.)  But what I do want you to know is that when you really are "in worse" it usually doesn't have much to do with sickness or poverty.  It usually happens when your spouse has hurt you deeper than you've ever been hurt.  Love may feel farther away than you ever  thought possible and yet you will stay and you will chose to love and serve and honor because you have entered into covenant to do just that.  At times, it may be the covenant alone that keeps you going, but J, God does amazing things when we honor our covenants!  I can testify to you that he makes beauty from ashes, and though times love will something that yes is a choice and not a feeling.  God honors that choice and you get through the hard times and the feelings and intimacy are deeper on the other side.

You are about to get married and learn just how selfish you are.  It's eye opening to truly realize what it means to lay down your life.  It is easy to say and yet painful and costly to do.  You will learn what it means to forgive 70x7; even harder, you will learn how deeply you can hurt another human being and how hard it is to humbly accept forgiveness.

There is only one way to be a successful wife, J, you must be a woman of the Word, filled with the Spirit. 

Be a woman of the Word and don't write the Word of God solely on you mind, engrave it upon your heart. 
-Luke 6:45 says, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  Girl, your mouth can make or break your marriage; it can build up or tear down your spouse.  Keep your heart clean of unforgiveness and bitterness.  Keep bringing your heart before the Father so our of it's abundance comes beauty.
-Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love to talk will reap it's fruit."  Your words will bring life or death to your husbands very heart and soul.  Sow words that are life giving to him!
-And let's not forget what wise Ol' Solomon wrote to his son:
  • Proverbs 25:24- "It is better to live on the corner of a roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
  • Proverbs 21:19- "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife."
  • Proverbs 19:13- "A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof."
  • Proverbs 27:15- "A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm."'
Think about all that.  It is better to life ON THE CORNER of the ROOF than with a quarrelsome wife.  On the corner, mind you, where you are off balance and unsteady.  On the ROOF, where you are exposed to all the elements nature throws at you.  It is better to live a DESERT- parched, dry, lacking any signs of lush life.  And this dripping thing?  Maybe that's hard to relate to as Americans because who among us has endured a constant dripping roof?  I once heard this compared to a dripping nose, so I pass this little wise illustration to you, dear friend.  Think of when you have a constant drippy nose.  You can turn your head or move with out the annoyance of the drip.  You have to wipe it so often, your nose gets so red and irritated that you look like Rudolph.  It's embarrassing socially.  It's uncomfortable at all times.   You go to bed desperately hoping for relief in the morning only to wake up and find your drippy nose is still with you.  Dear friend, do not be a wife that is constantly nagging N.  Don't have him desperately wipe you aside only to find himself more irritated when you return.  Don't let the way you speak to him be embarrassing socially.  Don't let him go to bed just hoping you'll be different in the morning only to find the same nagging wife still resides.  No one wants a drippy nose or a nagging wife. Period.

Speak to N words that build him up.  Accept him as he is.  Don't focus on what he needs to change- it tears him down, frustrates you, and gets you NO WHERE.   Sit before God and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how YOU need to change.  Walk in the Spirit.  Be being filled with the Spirit and not yourself, not good intentions, not false ideals of what a perfect husband or marriage looks like.  Be honest in communication and don't fail to communicate your needs, but bring them before God FIRST and let him lead.

Finally, DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT look at others.  Comparison is in my opinion, the death of women.   Psalm 16:5 says, "Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup, you have made my lot secure."  We are given what we need for security, when we start going off trying to obtain someone else's portion, trying to paint our cup to resemble their cup, things doing work and insecurity abounds.  Do not compare N to other men.  Trust the mistakes of married women here when we tell you- DO NOT DO IT.  God did not assign you those men, he gave you N.  Be content with the man God has gifted you.  Do not look at other woman's lives and circumstance and wish you had them, live life God gave you. Finally, do not compare yourself to other women and feel less than, be content person he made YOU, let him mold and make you into the beauty he has planned.  Comparison kills. 

Life isn't a fairy tale, it is a journey.  Marriage will have many happy moments.  I think you know how genuinely happy I am in my marriage, how deeply I am loved, and how much I love my hubs.  But I want to remind you that the aim of marriage isn't your happiness it is God's glory.  If you seek happiness alone, selfishness will overtake you and you'll find yourself farther from happiness than you ever thought possible.  Focus on your vows and honoring the God who you are making a covenant to.  Spend your life walking in the Spirit, living by the nourishment of God's word.  Marriage will not be what you dream, J, but if you submit to God's plan for you and live for his glory, I promise you, it will be far greater.





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