At the age of (almost) 51, I feel as if I am in a season of life where my influence is greater than at any other time. This is not about giving myself a pat on the back; rather it is about the time it takes to learn lessons. After I hit my finger with a hammer for the 10th time, I start to learn both what to do and what not to do. God teaches through life.
And experience can be a very valuable thing.
I will be married 28 years this month. That sounds like such a long time and it is. And I can say with confidence that I am in the best season of marriage yet. Yes, I am an empty nester and I have grand kids now. Both are stellar experiences and have added to the joy of my marriage.
What I mean is that the very core of my marriage is at a really sweet spot right now. Our relationship is hummin’. And it is not because I’ve tried harder as a husband or somehow have my “marriage act” together. No, rather it is about a prayer that God has answered for me in an astounding way.
Made for chasing
We as guys are wired for pursuit. We see something we desire and chase after it. God has made us as men to conquer, to see a bulls-eye in front of us and get the arrow there. What fills your eye today, guys, as you look down your bow and singularly see some target in the distance?
If you are married, is your wife the primary bulls-eye of all earthly relationships?
I have to admit there have been seasons where my wife was not always that essential focal point for me. As I have said before, I never drift to anywhere that is beneficial for me. It takes intentional living every day.
I get it. Life gets mundane and marriages drift to being stale. When that happens to guys, we see the faults of our wife in 3D and our own brokenness fades away. We have mental conversations with ourselves about what we think we deserve versus what we are actually getting.
Gratitude erodes; in its place is expectation. And full pursuit begins to wane.
Not in one day. Not in one month. But over time the target gets more blurry and we lose our way.
And we guys hate boredom in our lives. God wired us for pursuit and purpose. And when our marriages lose their sex appeal in multiple areas, we continue our pursuit…just of other things.
I see it, but where do I begin?
How many guys have I talked with where their marriages are in a spiral and they just do not know where to start or what to do.
They are in full pursuit for sure. Just not their wife.
They pursue work or what they even call “ministry.”
They pursue hobbies.
They pursue porn.
They pursue silence.
They pursue themselves.
They hear their wife but do not listen.
And the relationship that is designed to mirror Jesus and His church begins to mirror anything but that.
Legally married but functionally divorced.
And please do not come at me with, “You mean it is wrong to pursue work or hobbies?” Of course not. It’s when we replace the work of our marriage with these things.
The prayer God chose to answer
I mentioned a prayer that God answered for me. My marriage was “fine,” but there was just something missing. And though there are two parties in a marriage, I knew God was prompting me for change. He was leading me. And so I asked God for what I could not do – to change my desires and give me a heart to fully pursue my wife. I asked Him to uproot me and in place of my flesh to make me look more like Jesus. He showed me where to repent and what grace looks like.
Because the truth is that if our marriage is stale, it does not matter what else we think is going right.
And though my opinion is one side of the equation, I really needed to know what my wife thought. And so I asked her, “Do you feel as if I am pursuing you?”
The brief pause stung but it was a clear answer to me. And I began to go further, “What does my pursuing you look like?”
I heard her, but more importantly, I began to listen to her.
And God began to do the impossible: He began to change my heart. And fast forward 5-6 years and I am in the sweet spot that I am today. And it takes daily recalibration. But understand God did the work.
For all of you guys out there feeling the sting of a stale marriage or even a bad marriage, let me offer you hope. Jesus is the answer to your manhood issues. Period. And let me offer you this as well – my wife has responded to my pursuit of her physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Sure, there are areas of growth for my wife, but God commanded me to lead and offered me the opportunity to initiate.
To all you guys with less than a stellar marriage, stop.
Stop pursuing your vocation or ministry as what defines you. Stop chasing after hobbies for entertainment to numb your conscience. Stop looking to porn as the “love” you do not have to work for. Stop being silent. Stop raising up yourself as an idol.
Get a right view of God. Because all of our brokenness is rooted in a poor view of our heavenly Father. Embrace the Father’s plan for sanctification, love Jesus for performing for you, and allow the Holy Spirit to generate new desires within you.
And be patient for God to work.
And then watch your marriage explode in all the right ways. Watch it blossom in ways you never thought possible. And watch God make your marriage the best earthly relationship going on in your life and throw more joy at you than you thought you could take.
It can be that good.