Preparing for premarital counseling had put me in a sour mood. Now I know I am not good at a lot of things, but marriage was a place where I thought I was. I mean why shouldn’t I think that? I love my wife very much. I have a son who I cherish and love very much. I think of them constantly. I plan around them to make life better for them. I work hard for them.
For example, my wife is now pregnant with our second and gets terrible morning sickness which refuses to stay confined to the morning. That has called for me to step up my game. I come back from work and I try desperately to spend time with my son, take care of my wife, clean to get rid of any smells that might encourage nausea, feed and bathe the boy, and put him to bed. I feed my wife the best I can and make sure she gets the rest she needs. I’ve done things I swore I would never do. Scrubbing fridges, mopping and even the dreaded dishes.
Husband status: I rock.
Then I looked at the big idea for the first session and started reading through the material and it rocked me.
Is God at the center of your life?
I posed that question to myself and knew the answer immediately. In that moment my family was at the center of my life. When we think of idols we think of the evil ones (look out for that golden calf) and yet the idols that sneak up on you are good things that replace God. I love my wife very much as I am called to do. I have worked on getting to know her, really know her. I know her moods. I know when she is trying to be slick and get away with something, when she is sad but hiding it. I love spending time with her and hearing her concerns and worries. I want to know about her day with Josiah. At night before we go to sleep we can talk for five minutes or two hours with pillow talk.
If God is my center, where is He in my day? My love for my wife should pale in comparison to my love and passion and zeal for God. In what part of my day to I long to spend time with Him as I do my wife? Spend time getting to know His character or attributes by reading His word? When do I stay up and simply sit in His presence and listen to what He has to say to me? When do I sit and have pillow talk with my precious Father who made this orphan child an adopted son?
Some of you reading this might object. Joe you are being hard on yourself. You are supposed to love you wife and your family in this way. You’re doing a great job; keep doing it. If that is you, I believe the point is being missed.
Marriage is instituted for the purpose of glorifying God. I must love God first and foremost. It is only then that I could love my wife the way she should be loved. By choosing to pour my first and foremost love into her and my son, I give them a shallow and empty husband and father who will quickly become bored, tired, rundown, cranky and bitter. Deep in my soul, I marvel at how selfless I have been, what an awesome husband and father I have become, and I lay that service at the alter of my god “Family”. Then another voice whispers, “always serving and never served.” They fail to meet my expectations. This results all because I have elevated them to the place where God should be. Our marriage, doomed to fail.
John Piper wrote a poem to his son on his wedding day entitled “Love her more and love her less”
He impresses on the husband to love her more than wealth, ease, fame, friends, sex, even your very life. But here is the last bit of verse that got me:
Yes, love her, love her, more than life;
O, love the woman called your wife.
Go love her as your earthly best.
Beyond this venture not. But, lest
Your love become a fool’s facade,
Be sure to love her less than God.
It is not wise or kind to call
An idol by sweet names, and fall,
As in humility, before
A likeness of your God. Adore
Above your best beloved on earth
The God alone who gives her worth.
And she will know in second place
That your great love is also grace,
And that your high affections now
Are flowing freely from a vow
Beneath these promises, first made
To you by God. Nor will they fade
For being rooted by the stream
Of Heaven’s Joy, which you esteem
And cherish more than breath and life,
That you may give it to your wife.
The greatest gift you give your wife
Is loving God above her life.
And thus I bid you now to bless:
Go love her more by loving less.
If you read this and see yourself in this, repent with me and pray that God would become our center – our first and foremost. Jesus, replace our false centers with yourself.