We talk in the beginning of Two Fleas and No Dog about four different stages of marriage: two drowning people, two fleas, two independent swimmers and finally two people in a canoe headed for a destination. It is not possible to move to the fourth stage of marriage, paddling the canoe together, without having significant intimacy with each other. Most people stop in the development of their marriage at the independent swimmer stage.
"When God thinks of you, love swells in his heart." I can imagine the thoughts going through your mind as you reflect on that statement. For many of us, this idea is hard to accept. Do you really believe God loves you, even delights in you? If you are a follower of Christ you will probably give me the politically correct answer and say, "Yes. I believe He does." However, most of us will respond to that statement perhaps with a "Well, yes, but.". It is hard for us to believe God loves us without adding a "but" after the statement. The very statement challenges our theology about God. Many of us associate the nature of God with holiness, judgment, and righteousness. This is chapter 1 of a book by Os Hillman entitled, Experiencing the Father's Love.
Today I want to establish the connection between a husband's job and his wife's role in the marriage. The first thing the enemy did in the garden was attack the marriage. He knew all was going well because Adam and Eve were walking with God. He also knew that if he could cause a divide between Adam and Eve it had the potential to disrupt Gods plan for us. It worked! Since that day, we have not been the same. God told Adam and Eve that work would no longer go smoothly. It would be hard.
Today, the enemy is still doing his thing with respect to marriages. The divorce rate among Christians mirrors that of the lost and it's getting worse. We are still working hard because we have not brought restoration to the marketplace and we can't bring full restoration until we bring restoration to our marriages. The two go hand in hand. They are not mutually exclusive, as we have been taught.
The family unit is the basic building block of society; if families are healthy, so is the culture. Conversely, sick families produce sick nations. As the scriptures above declare, Abraham-the earthly "father of the faith" (Rom. 4:16)-was charged by God to raise a successful, natural family as a parallel act to laying a proper foundation for the spiritual family God would build through him. Indeed, commanding his children and his household-in order that God could, in fact, bless all the nations of the earth through him-clearly says that to change the earth God's way, we must first change our families.
There is a scene in the movie Elf-a great family film sure to become a holiday classic-that should be familiar to many American families. When the father, played by James Caan, arrives late to dinner, he doesn't stop moving. Instead he fills his plate while telling his wife and son that he'll be eating in his bedroom because he's "very busy" and has brought home a pile of work he has to do.
This question was posed by a reader of my TGIF devotional.
I don't know if you get a ton of emails, but I have been subscribed to your meditations and been reading them every night since the new year. I would just like advice from you since you are a business person. I manage a very fast paced retail clothing store. Recently I transferred to a much higher volume store and hired my own team and do all the training.... An average hour week for me is about 65-70 hours a week. I love my job, and I take pride in it, but it is definitely a lot of work. There doesn't seem to be enough hours in a day! When I am not at work I am always thinking about work. One problem is when I go to sleep I realize I haven't even thought of the Lord all day, and when I try to start to pray I either am to tired or I seem distant from God and it just is like a routine. I feel like am not as close to God and that the concerns and everything at work has taken over my life. What can I do to become closer to God?
In the best-seller The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, Juliet Schor reported that work hours and stress are up, and family time and sleep are down for all classes of employed Americans. Working moms come home to a "second shift"; fathers find themselves juggling new and multiple work and family roles; and single parents are almost always on the brink of being overwhelmed. Industries overwork us or, perhaps worse, underwork us by making us "temps" or part-timers. Some workplace policies are family-friendly, but many are not. And many leisure activities do not promote real recreation and renewing space in our lives. Such work and family patterns can lead to stress, depression, and marital and family conflict. Moving from burnout to balance can be challenging.