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Mike Mason, author of The Mystery of Marriage, likened marriage to an oak tree standing in the living room. On his honeymoon he was filled with the terrifying idea of the giving up of his privacy forever and thought he had made a grave mistake.
I can totally identify with Mr. Mason. When you are married, it’s like the oak tree is always there—no matter what you do.
There is a huge “other” that is always there.
For the Christian woman who wants to obey God and take Him at His word, she must leave her parents and cleave to her husband. She must give up her name, possibly move to another part of the country, she can’t make unilateral decisions—she must in effect—take up her cross.
I can hear some of you young brides right now. What do you mean take up my cross in my marriage? I love my husband! Just the thought of my getting to say “my husband” is thrilling since I get to use that term now! That is not my cross to bear—it is my joy to serve this man! I’ve waiting my whole engagement just to be near this man each day, and wake up beside him!
Yes, we have companionship in marriage. Man was not made to be alone, “cut off,” but to have a helper. But I’ve had to learn the lesson of taking up my cross in my marriage the hard way. You see, when I was a young bride, I left my husband.
I thought that I could do better. I thought that I would be better off starting with a new husband. I didn’t yet have anyone who would take me to be his wife when I left my husband, but I wanted to make it my quest to find that higher love that I believed had to exist. I had come to the wrong conclusion that I had married the wrong person, and that I needed to search for the “perfect love.”
You see, I was not a Christian yet, and I had no idea that no person could meet all my needs. Only God can do that! I was looking for what didn’t exist in humanity except in the person of Christ!
Once we meet the source of unconditional love in the person of Jesus Christ who died for us and we receive Him into our lives, we can then learn how to love our husbands as Christ intended. He teaches us how to love by modeling his love and forgiveness to us!
For me, the verse that helps me probably more than any other verse to be the wife that I need to be is not from the hallmark Proverbs 31 godly woman passage (much as I love that text) —It’s Luke 9:23.
God’s instruction to us there reads:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Did you notice the word “if” there? We don’t have to be his disciple. But once we make up our minds and come after him, Jesus is very clear with what we are to do.
Don’t you love that? You might not like what he says, but he does not leave it open to us that it’s “good advice” for the Christian. It’s a mandate for the Christian.
Take up his cross daily.
Who does the married woman intersect daily with more than any other? The man with whom she lives with and shares the same bed! Her husband! Wives, there’s our biggest laboratory to experience self-denial and the taking up of the cross
I think we can so easily get complacent and sloppy and miss seeing the taking up of the cross in our marriage. God didn’t say take it up everywhere except your husband.
He doesn’t say you get a free pass and may bypass self-denial to your husband—he doesn’t count. Oh, but how easy it is to overlook that God is speaking to us directly from our husbands!
I just had a chance to do this. Literally.
We serve a very practical God, don’t we?
Just 15 minutes ago, I was typing this post, and got as far as the Proverbs 31 verse above and knew in my mind I was about to type my cornerstone verse: Luke 9:23—the taking up of the cross verse.
I suddenly heard our garage door motor below my chair, and I looked out the window and saw my husband pulling up in his cute little silver sports car.
My very first thought was not, “There is my beloved!” but more like “What is he doing home? It’s not lunchtime for 90 minutes yet! This post is due today, and I don’t want to be interrupted!”
Translation: Mason’s metaphor of my oak tree was walking back in our home. God uses that oak tree to reveal my selfishness and sin, which has to go.
I’m afraid it gets worse, (or better put, I got worse before I got better—unconfessed sin can lead to more sinfulness. It is far better to keep short accounts. Stop. Think. Realize your thoughts and confess them at once and turn from them. This is true repentance!)
He walked into the kitchen and we chatted for a bit about how he left some keys here that he needed for work. Then he wanted to remind of some things he wanted me to make a list of for our cleaning service (we are blessed that we have enough discretionary income that we have a service that comes every two weeks).
He is a good provider, and he wanted to make a list to tell the maids to clean some troublesome areas or give us advice how to get it clean (like mold in the shower grout). He wasn’t even asking me to scrub it, but to get a pencil and make a note.
What was my reaction in my heart? Gratitude? I am ashamed to tell you that I was totally annoyed. I wanted to finish this post and I was wishing he had just picked up his keys this morning so I could have finished my train of thought before he arrived home for lunch—not now! I didn’t want to think about dirty grout!
He kissed me and left.
That’s when it hit me.
Deny yourself. Take up your cross.
I blew it! I should have stopped, and trusted God to give me my thought back, and instead give my husband my full attention in spite of my wanting to continue to type. That would have been my taking up of the cross for this morning!
J.H. Newman writes, “To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.”
Be on your guard in your marriage. God will give you many opportunities to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.
Ask yourself daily, “Where does God want me to take up my cross this day?”
Jolene titles her blog, “The Alabaster Jar,” for the woman who poured an offering on Jesus’ feet. Can you offer to Him anything that cuts across your will in your marriage? See it as your chance to die to yourself. By God’s grace, I will be joining you.
Let’s gladly take up the cross from the nail pierced hands of the One who loves us with an everlasting love—and follow Him.
Let’s let His love transform us—which will transform our marriages.
Walk by Faith,