Michelle: Everyday struggles are normal in marriage; maybe he forgot to take the trash out, or she didn’t have the meal ready on time. But for some of you, it’s not about the trash or the meal; it’s something more serious. Here’s Laura Story.
Laura: Disability really is very tough on a marriage. Anyone that has been through that, even if it’s a short-term thing, knows that it’s just hard! For a while, we really saw it as being: “That’s the problem in our marriage.” For me, I guess, it was a couple of years ago when I realized that Martin’s disability isn’t the problem in our marriage; our sin is the problem in our marriage.
Michelle: You know, life is tough; and when you put two sinners together in marriage, it’s even tougher. Today, we’re going to give you some tips on going the distance in your marriage. Stay tuned to FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. A few years ago, I went on a cruise. Now, before you go, “Ohhh!” I worked the entire time; and I came back, pasty-white, because I was underneath the deck the entire time! It’s because I’m single, and I went on a FamilyLife®Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise; so can I get a collective, “Aww” [crowd voices]? Thank you; thank you! That’s what I needed.
Well, the one thing I was surprised by was the number of couples who attended the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, year, after year, after year. Now, of course, the warm weather, and the sun, and the time away was all part of it; but a big part for many was building into their marriage, because they want their marriage to go the distance.
Today, I’m going to take you on a cruise or, at least, let you hear a little bit of what the folks on the boat heard. You see, this is good stuff! This is solid, biblical content that encouraged them; so I’m hoping it will encourage you.
One of the speakers that folks get to hear regularly is Gary Thomas. Gary is an international speaker and best-selling author. In fact, you might recognize a couple of his books: Sacred Marriage, Authentic Faith. He and his wife live in Houston, Texas, with their three kids. He has run the Boston Marathon three times, so it’s safe to say that he’s an avid runner. Well, Gary shared a story about a pastor friend of his. This friend really gets the idea of his vows, “…’til death do us part.” Here’s Gary.
[Previous Love Like You Mean It Message]
Gary: A friend of mine was a pastor up in Canada—a really young man—just one of the most gifted communicators I’ve ever known. Things were going so well, but he was in just one of those really awful church fights—and ended up in a church split—and he was out of a job. It was one of those nasty ones, where there’s a lot of gossip and slander; and people have to be blamed. People were saying awful things about him; and he’s a good man with a good heart, but his reputation was just kind of wrecked!
He found himself in a job, crawling under houses for $8 an hour. He had this great vision that God was going to use him and bless his ministry, and it’s just humiliating that he can barely eke out a living. His wife was having to budget, you know, on a third of what they were living on before. She could have gotten down on him; but she said: “Honey, I believe in you. I know God has a plan for you. This is a momentary reprieve.” She never lost her faith in him, even with people saying ugly things about him. She was there for him the entire time.
One time, Grant came home; and he was so discouraged. He was dirty, and smelly, and filthy, and made—I don’t know—70 bucks that day. He walks in the house, and his wife hadn’t heard him walk in; but he hears his wife talking on the phone. He overhears her telling one of the elders in the church: “No, you can’t talk to my husband. I’m his wife; and I just want you to know, if you want to get to him, you have to go through me. And if you find a way to get around me, you’re going to have to deal with me; because he’s my husband, and you’re not going to abuse him anymore!”
Grant felt so humbled—that when she could have piled on—she could have, maybe, even said, “You know, maybe what they’re saying is true,”—but she was there for him! She said, “I was born to get you through this.” And they grew together, and he grew as a believer.
Got put them in a church in the United States—he’s in Bellingham, Washington—and today, his church is the largest church for a city that size in the United States. It has just blossomed, and God has blessed his ministry. [Applause] I was talking to one of his elders a decade ago, and they were telling me: “We know we’re going to lose him; he’s too gifted. He could be paid three times what we pay him. He would be in a city that’s larger, where people could grow—it’s hard to grow a church, when you kind of push the boundaries of the population.”
I know I thought why Grant hadn’t taken up any of those offers, because he was getting regular contacts. I called him just a year or two ago, when I was working on A Life-Long Love. I said: “Hey, Grant! Just between you and me—I won’t tell anybody! I just need to know, between you and me”—[Laughter]—you see, Grant’s wife, Laurel, the one who protected him, has been going steadily blind until, now, she is almost completely blind. They’re in the small community of Linden, Washington, where she knows their house; she knows the community. Everything is set up for her. I said, “I’m guessing that the primary reason you’re still in Bellingham is it’s really the best place for Laurel to live.”
Grant was silent for a long while; and he said, “I can’t deny that.” I love it—that where she said, when he was down, “I was born for this!” His wife is down; he says: “I was born for this! Before I was born to be some big-shot pastor, I was born to be my wife’s husband. I’m not going to resent it that I’m stuck here in this town.” He doesn’t look at it that way! “I’m not going to resent it that I can’t follow these opportunities, because the best opportunity in my life is to be connected to my wife/to be a husband. A lot of men with big churches live with empty souls, because they have distant marriages.” Grant said, “I think it’s better to have a pretty large church and a connected marriage and to be honoring her.”
These are tough things; but if you write them down, and if you apply them, they work. They draw us together! They take a lot of courage; but you’ve got to ask yourself: “What do you want? What do you want out of your marriage?” “Do you want to just co-exist? Do you want to just get by, and maybe just reduce the level of conflict?” or “Do you really want to be connected as a couple?”
It really comes down to: “What do you want? What do you want out of your marriage?” So often, it’s just a fraud that we get married to be known and accepted and, then, we hide. Spiritually, we become resentful; and we pull back from each other. But the best marriages/the best marriages are the marriages, where each partner says to the other: “You know what? Before I’m my kids’ mom or dad; before I’m my boss’ employee; before I’m my company’s boss; before I’m my parents’ child; before I’m my hobby’s addict, I am yours.”
Michelle: That’s Gary Thomas with a story illustrating a marriage that goes the distance, where each person dies to self. You know, during that talk, Gary also brought out the verse in Proverbs—Proverbs 17, verse 17, that says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Gary said that, if it’s true of a brother, then really you should be able to say that it should be even more true for a marriage facing a challenge.
As Gary said: “When we get married, we think the other person is beautiful. They’re full of energy; they’re full of life; we have a good time together.” But then, we get married; and then they might get discouraged, or they might get depressed, or they might get addicted, and they have a problem. Gary wanted to encourage those, who heard his message, that we need to know that we were born for this—kind of like Pastor Grant said about his wife and their marriage—you need to rise to the challenge and say, “I was born for this.”
You know, while we were on the cruise, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine spoke to somebody else who had to wrestle through, “Was I born for this?” I’m talking about Laura Story. Laura is a worship leader; and she is known for her song, Blessings. She is married to Martin. They live in Atlanta, and she has a little girl and twin boys. Now, having three kids under the age of four is hard! But for Laura, it’s even more complicated.
[Previous Love Like You Mean It Interview]
Bob: You guys went through a really challenging season—
Bob: —over the last couple of years. Tell listeners about that.
Laura: We have! About eight years ago, Martin was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and he went through a couple different surgeries. He lives today with a brain injury. I think anyone who has either done life with a disability—mental or physical—or has done life with someone with a disability knows that it’s just a tough road.
Marriage is hard anyway.
Laura: And I think that marriage plus disability—it definitely teaches you to rely on the Lord.
Bob: What are his disabilities today?
Laura: Oh, gracious! Well, he has a short-term memory deficit. He has some balance issues. He only has 50 percent of his vision. He has trouble—like kind of with a time conception deficit. He had damage to his hypothalamus, so he has trouble sensing hot or cold, or full/hungry, thirsty—things like that. There’s really—brain injuries are so funny, because sometimes there’s one area that isn’t affected at all. As far as his cognitive ability, he’s still there. He’s still the same person he’s always been. But on the other side, with the memory, it really—it’s kind of interesting.
Hopefully, you’ll get to meet him; he’s here this week. You can have a conversation with him, and he seems just fine.
Bob: As a husband, there’s this—it’s built into us: to want to provide, protect, take care of—to do all of the things a husband is supposed to do. Is he able to embrace that and be that for you?
Laura: Yes; well, I think it depends on what your definition of the husband being the leader. You know, for me, he’s the spiritual leader of our family; because he is the lead pray-er; he’s the lead repenter. He is far more spiritual than I will ever be. He doesn’t provide for us financially; but in some ways, I kind of wonder whether I really do? I feel like to write songs and get checks in the mail—that’s really God providing for us. I truly see Him as our Provider. [Applause] Yes.
Martin’s a great, great man. No disability—it’s funny; this is kind of related—I think, for a while—you know, disability really is very tough on a marriage. Anyone that has been through that, even if it’s a short-term thing, knows that it’s just hard! For a while, we really saw it as being: “That’s the problem in our marriage.” For me, I guess, it was a couple of years ago, when I realized that Martin’s disability isn’t the problem in our marriage. Our sin is the problem in our marriage.
It’s not that it’s a husband’s job that is the problem, or it’s not that it’s the wife’s past; it’s not things like that. The problem in our marriage is always our sin.
Laura: Just with his disability, you know, there are times he’ll have to ask me things over and over again; and for me, I can either get frustrated with that, and act out because of my sin and selfishness, and not wanting to be inconvenienced; or if I truly am living the way that God wants me to, I can see that as an opportunity to serve, and honor, and love my husband five more times than another wife might be able to.
Bob: We all have challenges that come our way. The question is: “Do we deal with those challenges in a God-honoring way or in a selfish way?”; right?
Dennis: And people have disabilities, and they have limps you can see.
Dennis: Some have disabilities and limps you can’t see.
Bob: —you can’t see; right.
Dennis: But all of those were meant to be, I think, used in our lives to bless us. When you get married, you don’t get married to go through what you’ve been through. But when we pledge/when we pledge: “…in sickness and in health,” it’s a covenant. I admire you keeping your covenant, and caring for your husband, and writing about it to give others hope and encouragement to do the same.
Laura: Well, I think, a lot of times, people feel like God blesses us, you know, when He gives us that health, wealth, and prosperity. We have seen God bless us in some ways, even if it was just showing us how deeply we need God; how deeply we need Jesus at the very core of our marriage every single day.
[Laura singing Blessings]
Michelle: That’s Laura Story. Hearing her story kind of gives new light to her song; doesn’t it? Laura Story’s got a new book out, entitled When God Doesn’t Fix It. She also has a new CD out. Go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com for more information.
Hey, we need to take a break! But on the other side of the break, we’re going to hear from Voddie Baucham. I can guarantee you do not want to shut off the radio or turn off your device, because Voddie is fabulous! Stay tuned.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. Hey, I am taking you on a cruise today. Hopefully, you maybe put on some surf board shorts and maybe a t-shirt, lathered up with some of your suntan lotion on and a straw hat, maybe your sunglasses; because we are aboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise that FamilyLife® puts on every year, and hearing some great teaching from men and women, who are encouraging us in our marriages.
One of the speakers that I really love hearing is Voddie Baucham. I just love hearing the truth that he brings out of God’s Word. Currently, he is Dean of a seminary in Zambia; but before that, he and his family lived in Spring, Texas, where he was pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church. He has written lots of books, including Family-Driven Faith. Voddie is known as a straight-shooter, especially when it comes to God’s Word and the purpose of marriage.
[Previous Love Like You Mean It Message]
Voddie: Here is the one thing that I want to say to you today: “The marriage that God wants you to have is not the one you’re in right now.” [Laughter] Some of y’all are clapping for the wrong reasons! [Laughter]
If you want to understand what I mean, look at Ephesians, Chapter 5, and let’s look first at verse 32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The most complete teaching on marriage that we find in all of Scripture is found right here in Ephesians, Chapter 5. In verse 32, as he comes to this conclusion and makes his summation, he says, “You know, this mystery is great; and I’m telling you that it refers to Christ and the church.” That’s significant!
So whatever it is that Paul just taught us about marriage, it points to a reality that is greater than the relationship you have with your spouse. Think about it this way—your marriage is the picture—it’s not the reality—it’s the picture! There is something that your marriage represents that is far greater than anything that you and your spouse can or will ever experience in the here and the now. This is merely a foretaste, which means that we must never pour a sense of ultimacy into our marriage relationships in the here and now. It’s wrong; it’s wrong.
We’re all sort of beyond this [weddings]—and I’m sorry if what I’m about to say bothers you—but there is much that we do in terms of weddings that point to completely wrong thinking about marriage: “You say it’s all about Christ, but the ceremony that you designed has very little to do with Him.” Our weddings usually reflect that theological reality.
For many of us, our marriages are not about the exaltation of Christ; so the things that we say are wrong with our [marriage]—you sit couples down, and you talk about the things that are wrong with their marriage. It’s usually not those things that don’t reflect the sense of ultimacy in where we’re going, that don’t reflect that it’s Christ to whom we’re going to be wed, and He’s dealing with sin and our hatred of sin, and our desire for His exaltation—it’s usually not that! It’s usually: “This is what I want, and I’m not getting it! Therefore, this thing is broken.”
Finally, there’s this picture of consummation. So open with me to Revelation,
Chapter 19, beginning at verse 6: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters, and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us rejoice and exalt and give Him glory!’” Why? “For the marriage of the Lamb has come,”/“for the marriage of the Lamb has come.”
He doesn’t stop there. What’s the significance of the marriage of the Lamb?—consummation! “And His bride has made herself ready. It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure, for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” What does this mean? Not only that God has judged sin, but it also means that God has brought you, if you belong to Him, perfect righteousness.
That’s what we yearn for—perfect righteousness—for God to form in me holiness; for God to use my marriage as a sanctifying tool to make me more like Christ. It means that being miserable in your marriage does not necessarily mean that your marriage is broken and that it’s over. In fact, it may mean the exact opposite; because there are some things that only misery can grow in you; amen?
Voddie: “Well, what if the misery never goes away? What if I stay married to this person, and it stays miserable?” There is a day coming when your misery will be no more. “Wait a minute! I’m in a marriage right now, and I’m miserable.” “Why?” “Because this person is not making me happy.”
Now, this person was never designed to make me happy; this person wasn’t created to make me happy. That is supposed to come from Christ! “But this person doesn’t make me happy.” “So what are you going to do?” “I’m going to leave this person in hopes of finding another person who actually does make me happy.” “Well, if they don’t, you’re in the same misery you were before. If they do, you’re an idolater. How’s that working for you?” [Laughter]
Does this mean that we’re hopeless?—absolutely not. Why?—remember, your marriage in the here and now is a picture and reflection of the marriage that God wants for you that is yet to come. You don’t get there by looking to your spouse. This doesn’t happen/this doesn’t work by looking to your spouse. This only works by looking to our Redeemer; because He is, indeed, our only hope.
Michelle: Voddie Baucham doing what he does best in pointing us to our Savior. I could listen to him all day! In fact, if you want to hear more of Voddie Baucham, go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
You know, I love to sit down and talk with little kids; they are so cute!—and have the craziest ideas and use the most creative words. It’s easy for me to say, “They are the cutest thing ever!” But for a mom and dad, in the midst of living life and raising toddlers, life with that toddler brings many questions. Next week, we’re going to talk with two young moms and get their perspective on how they communicate with their cute little one about rights and wrongs in those not-so-cute moments. I hope you can join us for that.
Thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big, “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Bruce Goff. Thanks to our producer, Marques Holt. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I’m Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Artist: Laura Story
Album: Blessings ©2011, Laura Story Music
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