This time last year Jarrod and I were prepping for the biggest and best day of our lives. It was wedding month which meant lots of last-minute finalizing. I don’t remember the month of April being particularly crazy. We were more excited than anything else. The day before the wedding, however, is when everything hit me like a train. I got to the rehearsal dinner super late with traffic jams and lack of gas. The reality of showing up someplace late and the pressure I felt overwhelmed me that I had a breakdown for the century. I may be exaggerating a tad, but the Type A in me just could not come to terms with the fact that I had people waiting on me for over an hour. But we made it. We got through that hump and my heart eventually settled. I believe my emotions hit me like a storm because I knew my life was drastically going to change. While I was excited and sure about this change, I never took the moment to cry and embrace the change. My stubborn, got-to-be-strong personality couldn’t hold out any longer and the night before my wedding day is when my emotions got the best of me. I cried and let myself cry. I cried with excitement for what was to come, I cried overwhelmed by how far God had brought me and I cried with assurance trusting an unknown future to a known God. This is just one of the few stories I will share this month as Jarrod and I celebrate our one-year anniversary on April 29th. This month’s blog will be particularly fun sharing the things I’ve learned coupled with things Jarrod has learned in our one year of marriage. Now, the first thing I learned is that in the first three months of marriage I neglected God.
Marriage has been the sweetest. It has its moments but on a whole, I’ve loved everything about it. I didn’t know I could fall in love with someone so deeply. It’s crazy how you think you love someone until you both give each other everything and you fall deeper in love with one another. I’ve come to learn that all true love relationships become both harder and richer the more they grow. This year of marriage was one of growth for both Jarrod and me, and my relationship with Christ. Every year is a year of growth, but this particular year proved the rotten nature to neglect God when life is sweet.
G. Michael Hopf, an author of a post-apocalyptic novel is quoted saying,
Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.G. Michael Hopf
This is said to sum up a stunningly pervasive cyclical vision of history. I’d also say this sums up day-to-day humans and their relationship with Christ. When life is difficult, it’s easy to depend on God. It’s fairly easy to pray and seek God’s truth. In hard times we depend on and lean on Him as our last hope. In these hard times, we often become a lot stronger and in our dependence on Christ, we see the fruit of devotion to Him. We call these the good/sweet times. In the good and sweet times, we often become weak in our walk. Because life is so sweet we don’t pray as often, read God’s word as often, praise as often, or remain quiet as often. The first few months of marriage are when I realized I was so focused on the sweet times of marriage that I lacked my intense devotion to Christ. While I still attended church I was not daily praying, daily reading, daily worshiping, or daily in stillness. I simply got around to spending time with God whenever I had time and I became quite okay with it. It wasn’t until Jarrod and I signed up for a course at our church did I realize that I had neglected God. No, Jarrod isn’t to blame because he was still devout to Christ and daily seeking. The only person to blame is me. I was entirely wrapped up with the good that I failed to nurture the fire of growth.
On our wedding day, I made a covenant with God, Jarrod and I. Often I believe we view the marriage day as a covenant between man and woman. We fail to factor Christ in the equation. If you are a young couple or you are going through a season of sweet/good times, I urge you to fight the urge of neglecting Christ. It’s easy to neglect God in the good times and it is easy to depend on God in the bad times. Seek Christ in all times and in all things. While I am thankful I bounced back fairly quickly and my marriage neglect of Christ didn’t drag on too long, it doesn’t remove the fact that I did neglect. Don’t let the history of the Old Testament repeat in your hearts.
In Deuteronomy 32, Moses exhorts the new generation of Israelites to live as God’s obedient people in the promised land and to neglect not. We learn that faith is not automatic nor is it mechanical. Faith is personal and active and can only spring from a living relationship with God. Our faith walk becomes personal when we devout ourselves to God in the good and not-so-great times. My challenge to you is the same as Moses’ challenge to the Israelites. He challenged the people to faithfully obey the Lord and reject all forms of idolatry. He called on the new generation to formally renew the earlier covenant with God that their parents had broken. He challenged you and I to, love the Lord your God with all your hearts and with all your souls and all your strength.
Marriage can easily become your idolatry that you neglect the one who got you there. As beautiful as marriage is, it can only remain beautiful and sweet if we allow the one that designed it to remain at the center. Don’t neglect Christ in your marriage. Don’t neglect your spouse. Don’t neglect yourself. The covenant you made on your wedding day was never with one, rather it’s with you, your spouse and God.
You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. Deuteronomy 32:18