Caution: Please Enjoy the Trail at Your Own Risk
By Justin Talbert
“Honey, could you hand me my medicine?”
A simple request from my sick wife, right?
Except it’s 2:30 a.m. and she woke me up to ask, and the meds are in the car, which is parked across the apartment complex. And it’s (literally!) snowing outside.
But this is a crucial moment in our marriage.
Is my knee-jerk reaction an anger-saturated shock at even being asked?
Or is it (once I’ve actually woken up) a servant-minded, joy-seeking, “Sure thing, Babe. But next time bring in your prescription with you. I was just dreaming of a Jamaican beach.”
Most humans pursue their own interests. So our marriages follow suit.
But everything changes when we hand our marriage over to Jesus.
Jesus is leading every one of us to joy. It’s what we want, right?
What makes marriage so unbelievably difficult is the trail to that joy. “I’m gonna look out for me, me, me!” is natural, yet miserable.
Instead, joy is uncovered on the thorn-ridden trail of self-denial, self-forgetfulness, sacrificial love. When Jesus cements two sinners together, He says, “Your joy is now linked to theirs.”
Remember, Christ is the infinitely self-denying One and the infinitely joyful One. They are linked together.
Pay attention to the selfish groanings of your heart. Release just one of them today, in exchange for something your spouse wants.
It’ll be something ordinary, like fetching some medicine. Slowly, you’ll become more joyful because they will become more joyful.
And in the event they don’t—gradual, increased Christ-likeness will give you more joy.
Sure, these thorns will make you bleed a little. But Jesus Himself is leading you.
He’s no stranger to thorns.
The good stuff: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
Action points: The above parable concerns the kingdom of heaven, but apply a similar principle to your marriage. What might you sacrifice of yourself today for the joy of your marriage tomorrow?
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