White linens, sparkling crystal, and gleaming china adorned four tables for this Afternoon Tea. Just to walk into the room took one’s breath away. Every detail spoke to the significance of the upcoming bridal shower.
The hostess and her team thoughtfully orchestrated each component; nothing was overlooked. Even a printed copy of the menu (finger sandwiches, two varieties of scones, and an assortment of dessert delicacies) rested atop each table for the guests’ perusal. And soon, the first of those guests would be walking in the front door.
Was I ready?
As able hands removed the warm scones from the oven nearby, I prayerfully reviewed my speaker’s notes. Feeling honored with the invitation to address the bride-to-be and her guests, I desperately wanted my comments to offer encouragement.
In the days leading up to this occasion, I reflected on my own upcoming 46th wedding anniversary, and I pondered the significance of one word: commitment. It would be easy to assume the young couple’s upcoming marriage, rich with a legacy of faith, held a guaranteed success. But marriage is not built on assumption; marriage is built on commitment. And to that word—commitment— I spoke.
Now, I invite you to pour your own cup of steaming black tea, and join me to consider a marriage based on 4 commitments.
1. A Commitment to God
“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” These Words from Psalm 34:3 offer a stellar mission statement for any couple who wants a Christ-centered relationship. God never intended marriage to be an idol. Thus, sharing the highest common goal of bringing Him glory becomes the greatest fortification to the marriage relationship.
Paradoxes emerge. The closer husband and wife grow individually to God, the closer they grow to each other. When two people look not to themselves, but rather look up to glorify God, a supernatural mystery of oneness thrives.
2. A Commitment to Communication
Our friend and mentor Bobb Biehl, founder and president of Masterplanning Group International, teaches, “Communication is the lifeblood of an organization.” This wisdom certainly applies to marriage. Talking, connecting, chatting, listening, and asking questions all serve to blend two otherwise isolated lives.
For Larry and me, communication stands as one of our highest values, and we guard the priority with viciousness. Date nights, sacrosanct Saturdays, and morning coffees serve as placeholders to keep us talking, and to protect us from drifting apart.
3. A Commitment to Forgiveness
Bill Bright taught us the four greatest statements in marriage:
I am sorry.
I was wrong.
I love you.
Will you forgive me?
Dr. Bright’s wisdom still ministers to Larry and me, even now, at the 46th mark of our own relationship.
So, in our marriages, we are admonished to keep short accounts, and to strive never to go to sleep with unresolved conflict.
4. A Commitment to Oneness
Living parallel lives emerges as one of the greatest deterrents to relational oneness. As a vogue model in today’s culture, this chic arrangement offers freedom and autonomy, but robs us of intimacy.
Oneness does not mean sameness, absolutely not. But it does mean that our we is always greater than our singular you or me.
Simply living under the same roof, sharing the same address, and occupying the same bed will not insulate us from living on tracks of parallel lives. Again, communication — along with bulldog tenacity in the power of the Holy Spirit — guards against drifting into aloneness, and serves to guide our lives into a God-inspired oneness.
Building oneness — emotional, mental, physical, psychological intimacy — requires intentionality, consistency, and effort. Ah, but the joy of shared life with one’s beloved brings a rich wholeness only God can create.
Indeed, for the bride-to-be and her groom, commitment—not assumption—brings the Blessed Assurance needed to walk down the aisle with a future and a hope. After all, The One most committed to us (and most committed to them) never leaves us to assumption. Praise God, He guarantees His commitment. (I will never leave you nor forsake you, Hebrews 13:5.)
Living With Eternal Intentionality®
As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built (Luke 6: 46-47).
Which of the 4 Commitments opens new thinking for you?
What is the greatest communication challenge you and your spouse encounter?
How do these three quotes on forgiveness seem relevant in your marriage?
Share your thoughts on overcoming parallel lives.
What additional commitment would you offer to a newly wed couple in today’s world?
Photos by Sandee Milhouse