Do you ever feel as if you dated Jekyll and married Hyde? One wife said she would always cherish the initial misconception she had about her husband. Someone said marriage is composed of three rings — engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering. One pastor visited a children's Sunday School class and asked them what God said about marriage. One boy chimed, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Sometimes marriage seems like a romance novel where the hero dies in the first chapter. Marriage can be tough. The problem is our perspective; most good marriages are 90 percent positive and only 10 percent negative. But when people focus on the negative 10 percent, it makes their marriage feel as if it is 90 percent negative. (By the way, the same principle can also apply to church work.)
I counseled thousands of people while in practice. I actually counseled with a couple with whom I had previously done premarital counseling. Five years later, they were in my office talking about a divorce. I opened the folder and it made an impression on me because I had written that they could not find anything wrong with each other when talking about their prospective mate's weaknesses. Now five years later, they could not find anything good about each other. I wish having a great marriage was just a matter of changing your perspective, but it goes much deeper. A natural marriage will never be what God intended. We are ordained to have super-natural relationships.
Do you remember Jesus' first event at the beginning of His ministry? He went to the wedding feast at Cana. He went to a place where relationships were being formed. During the party someone said that they had run out of wine. We might say that they were out of the good stuff. What should they do now?
The fact is, just like that wedding feast, in relationships we are going to run out of the good stuff. There isn't a never-ending supply of the good stuff. In life and in marriage, when Jesus takes over, the natural order is reversed.
They had served the wine first and they had nothing left, so they had to serve water. What a vivid picture of many marriages that I have worked with. They are full of the good stuff at first and then nothing. When Jesus takes over, it goes from good to best.
When did you first realize it? Where were you? How old? What happened that caused you to see, to know, to confess at some deep place inside that your own wine had run out? When did you know that your marriage wasn't working and would never work as a self-made project?
When did you figure it out — that all the bailing wire in your repair kit couldn't patch or fix the "you" that was broken? When did you hit the wall with the truth about yourself — that your brains, your beauty, your money, your connections, your luck or whatever else it was that you were counting on was empty or impotent when you needed it the most? When did you realize that on your own you run out of the good stuff?
An interesting thing happened at that wedding. Jesus' mother told Jesus that they needed help. Then she told those around her that they should do whatever Jesus told them to do. Whatever He said ... well, you know the story. Jesus told them to fill the basins with water, and because of Jesus the water became the good stuff. With Jesus at the center of the relationship you never run out of the good stuff.
Does the name Jessica McClure ring a bell? Years ago, in Midland, Texas, Jessica fell into an open twenty-two-foot well. For many hours over four hundred rescuers worked to get little Jessica out of the well. They made a significant decision that someone needed to be lowered into the well to be with her and to comfort her and let her know that help was coming. This insightful decision could have saved Jessica's life. All alone in the darkness, a smothering panic and disorientation might have snuffed out the flickering candle of life. They sent someone to encourage her.
God sent Someone to encourage you — He sent His Son Jesus to be with us. He is with us in the darkness, a voice of encouragement and hope. When you have Him living His life through your marriage, I can assure you that there will always be enough of the good stuff.
Charles Lowery is a member of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, Louisiana, founder and president of Lowery Institute for Excellence, and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact Lowery Institute at 800-723-9025 or www.CharlesLowery.com.