Written in Iron Ink: Tending Marriage

Recently I was reading a book that cited this staggering statistic:

Couples, on average, spend a total of twelve minutes a week in meaningful conversation.

12 minutes

There aren’t enough emojis with bulging surprise eyes in the world for me to put in the space after I share this stat.

12 minutes may be skewed and you may be different.

However, it’s time to care about marriage, not just our own, but one another’s.

For too long we have existed on privacy island and it’s not working. We need one another. Your marriage, your neighbor’s marriage, my marriage needs you to care. We need accountability, encouragement, reality checks, free babysitting, someone to laugh with, someone to tell you when it’s time to apologize, someone to hug you and send you back in.

We are our best married selves, when we tend in this life.

We were meant to tend our own marriages but also to tend one another’s.

Our God tends to us. He came to earth for us. His Spirit resides in us. The Word is open to us. A God who tends does not leave us to our own devices. He gives us unique community far and wide to be real with, to open our hearts to, and to cheer on. Because our God tends, we can tend.

In today’s podcast, join in a fun and feisty chat about tending, with myself and Leah Heffner from Life Around the Coffee Cup. She doesn’t have easy answers, which I think we all appreciate. She does have loads of usable ideas and resources to keep the conversation going.

This podcast is more than twelve minutes…because we can spend more than twelve minutes on marriage today. We can do it!

There isn’t a checklist to relationships.

There isn’t an instruction manual for our spouse.

There isn’t a do-it-yourself guide for helping your friend love when it’s hard and when to tighten the boundary lines.

There is Jesus. There is the Word. There is the Church, community, and connection.

Let us tend…together.

Share ideas! How do you tend in your marriage or help tend a marriage around you?

PS- the book I was reading was What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

 

Write What You Have Seen (My Redeemer Lives 8:1)

I pretty much live to hear the Word at this point.

Life has thrown enough yuck in my general direction that I just don’t know how anyone lives without it. I lap it up, sloppily, desperately, like my labradoodle trying to drink from his water bowl in the middle of July.

I’m so thirsty. It’s never enough in one sense, while it’s still completely and utterly enough in another sense. Jesus’ love and forgiveness, the removal of my shame that I find in His death and resurrection, the value He places on me in everything He does, are absolutely my fuel for this life, for this day.

And while I’m thirsty, He quenches.

While I’m imperfect, His strength burns purpose into my weaknesses.

While I and all that is around me is mortal, His immortality is the cloak that warms my soul to find hope, to share Hope each day.

Thank you, dear Job, for taking one for the team and constantly reminding us in God’s Iron Ink of Biblical Truth:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me! (Job 19:25-27)

If you have learned anything from this study, I pray that it is this:

We live in the Resurrection.

Resurrection overflows life into our lives in the same way that Christ’s sacrifice brings absolute forgiveness into our days. Without the resurrection, so much of life feels like heavy shame. It may be called Good Friday, but the weight we carry for putting Jesus on the tree is far too heavy to ever feel good. We weren’t meant to live there, friends.

Resurrection dawns.

Easter morning’s Resurrection sometimes feels far off, but it works in everything. It changes everything about how we live, think, and believe!

Today looks different, heart-faintingly different, because Jesus rose.

Sometimes this difference is obvious:

Forgiveness and grace spoken aloud in our homes when we really don’t feel like giving it.

Giving and stewarding a little more time and energy from what would be an empty cup without Resurrection Joy.

Breaking bread and sharing space with people we may not have otherwise because Jesus is alive among us.

Sometimes the difference is not so obvious, and so we need constant reminders. As we leave this study, let us remind one another. I’d like to do this in two ways.

First, in the comments, share with us what you will walk away with from this study.

Were there any surprises for you? Any resurrections you were unfamiliar with?

Where have you seen resurrection in your own life in the last weeks, and over the course of your walk with God?

What one lesson, one truth, one piece of hope over everything else and all my zillion words will stick with you?

Next, I want to share one last passage of resurrection with you. One not-so-final glimpse of our Resurrected Savior in Revelation 1:4-7 –

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, the Resurrected One, Savior, Restorer.

He’s also our Faithful Witness, the Faithful Witness. He witnesses to us what He’s done and Who He is in His Word. When we hear it, we are renewed because in that place our story connects with His Story, giving our story meaning, and firm footing. This place of hope and life, that’s His story working out in our story. What was John’s response to Jesus’ witness? He wrote His story down. He shared his story with Christ as the centerpiece.

So let us keep sharing the resurrection, connecting to the resurrection, and in and with that…sharing our stories alongside His story.

To make this a little more concrete for you, a little easier to share also, I created a resurrection Scripture writing plan. You can download the thirty-day plan from the link below and print it or screen shot it to use to keep His story close to you, to cement it in your heart by simply reading or reading and writing the passage, or by giving to a friend, sharing at Sunday School, or creating a challenge in your group.

Write His Story: Resurrection Reading and Writing Plan

As you read or write the story of resurrection within the Scriptures, simply ask yourselves these questions:

How can we begin to tell our story, really tell it, to God?

How can we make our homes open places to tell our stories?

How can we make our churches open places to tell our stories?

Keep it simple and just ask the questions before God, around His Word, and let Him answer. He will tell His story in you, in your home, and in your community…and what a story it is! Salvation, grace, restoration, heartache, waiting, failure, fear, death, life, darkness, light, glory, healing, and so much more yet to be told.

Savior – You have written Your story. Continue to write Your story in each of our lives. We tear down all that is not in You, all that doesn’t point to You. We lay all those things before You…Resurrect it, Lord. Resurrect.

Thank you for studying with me. I hope you’ll join me for our Fall Study…

(drumroll!)

This study is especially meant to reach those on the fringes of a relationship with God. Those who may know about Jesus but don’t know where to put Him. Those who know there is something better, something more in this life, but don’t know what it is. For others of you, this study will open the door to defining what real relationship looks like, what our hungry hearts truly long for, and why we so often feel disappointed with our relationships one moment and ecstatic about them the next. It will introduce you to a Hope that brings better and more to our relationships with those around us and to a God who loves brave all the way – brave enough to sacrifice everything for you in Faith, Hope, and Love.

In the meantime, as always, look for more articles, podcasts, resources, and encouragement every week at ilovemyshepherd.com.

 

Waiting to Fall Asleep (My Redeemer Lives 5:2)

Have you ever had a hurry up and wait experience?

I’ve been on several mission trips and these perhaps represent the pinnacle of hurry up and wait, whether because of two cultures meeting, however briefly, or because of the nature of the mission trip experience. When you walk into another culture, even one out your backdoor, you exchange what you’d like to get done for what other people actually need, and figuring out where those two meet takes time and energy.

The Biblical mandate of missioning itself — the going out to know and share the Word and life together, the conversing and building up of people and places to gather in His Spirit —  has a hurry up and wait quality to it in general. God’s command to make disciples is urgent, for sure, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Hurry up…and wait.

I get the idea that people in the New Testament knew about hurry up and wait as well. In a time with no Wi-Fi, no electricity, and no indoor plumbing, I think waiting would have looked like hurrying to get water from the well, and waiting for your turn with everyone else in line for water; hurrying to prepare for someone’s arrival, while waiting for an unknown arrival time with no cellular data to alert anyone; waiting for the Messiah, the King, the Savior.

In today’s reading, there is a lot of waiting. Some expected, and some unexpected. At places in the story, as the reader, you want to yell, “Hurry up!” but goodness knows at the other end of hurrying, there would probably have been waiting anyway. And as always with waiting, we don’t have the fullest picture — only God does.

Please read Luke 8:40-56 below and consider, where is the waiting in this account? Maybe underline or jot down the people and phrases that indicate waiting. Who is waiting? Why are they waiting? And what difference would hurrying make?

40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians,[f] she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

49 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Waiting would have changed this story entirely, or would it have? God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I don’t think He plays by the same rules we think of when we think of time. Resurrection proves that.

The crowd was waiting… 

Let’s personalize that — People, with faces, and families, and needs, were waiting.

Luke 8:40 tells us right off the bat that people were waiting for Jesus – this healer, this hope walking around like an ordinary man. Did they know He was the God of Resurrection, the long-awaited Messiah? Maybe some did, but just as in our world, I’m willing to bet that pain looks every which way to find a Savior. It’s one reason we, like Jesus, look out at the pressing crowd called the world and walk right into it, sharing Who He is and the Hope He brings, His truth, His love.

A woman was waiting… 

Twelve years, we are told, this woman waited and bled with no cure. She spent all her money on doctors and medicines, ointments and oils, relief that turned up empty and sucked away every last coin. Do you know someone who has been there? Health problems are no joke, and until you’ve had one it’s easy to think that it won’t happen to you, that your skin is thicker and your veggies are more potent. Let’s help people find Jesus before they are desperate, but desperation is a good place for Jesus to meet the people in our lives. With compassion, Jesus does not reprimand a desperate woman as she falls at His feet. Instead, He teaches her with one sentence Who He is and the place of faith in the midst of her trial.

A father was waiting… 

All the while, there’s a poor father probably wringing his hands, wanting to yell, “We ain’t got no time for this!”

He too fell at Jesus’ feet, it tells us in Luke 8:42. He too cried out, spent tears I am sure, waiting for Jesus’ response. Jesus said, “Yes,” also in verse 42. He went. He could have stayed. He could have not pressed through the crowds. Jesus could have said no, and that’s a vulnerable place for Jairus to be in. It takes no small effort to set our will aside and place ourselves before God, asking for help. It’s vulnerable and that needs to be honored. Jairus is much like all of us in prayer, waiting for an answer. And He does answer. But sometimes, just like Jairus, there’s some very uncomfortable waiting.

Jesus was waiting… 

Is it possible that God sees waiting a little differently than we do?

More than that, is it possible that God Himself is waiting?

God’s miracles are interrupted only by other miracles.

That doesn’t mean the miracle will look the way we expect it. Resurrection, to be honest, doesn’t always look the way we expect it to, but that doesn’t make it any less miraculous.

In the end, Jesus says in Luke 8:52 –

“Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.”

Jesus sees the world differently. God sees the whole picture and He is a waiting God.

He waits for us to get it. He waits for us to share Truth and Love and Life. He waits for our neighbor to come to Him. He waits for our children to come to Him. In the meantime, He teaches, He heals brokenness, and He touches lives and families.

What waiting are you experiencing in your life? What waiting do you see around you? Share with us today in the comments. Let’s pray together and lay it before our Resurrection God, and let Him fill us with new reminders of the Hope He gives.

Let’s hurry. Let’s wait. Let’s hurry up to share the message of life made new. Let’s wait with God to see what He’s going to do with it.