Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Marriage Lottery

     $1.5 billion dollars.  That’s a lot of money, and there is as much chance as not that someone will be very, very rich after tonight’s Powerball drawing.  It’s the largest Jackpot in history.  Even if 1000 people had the winning numbers and had to split the pot, they’d still each be instant millionaires.
     So, what would becoming an instant billionaire mean for your marriage?  Would it take away debt?  Would it allow you to live out your dreams?  Would it bring you and your spouse closer together?
     While it might be fun for you and your mate to pretend how a winning ticket would change your life, the reality is money won’t change a thing.  “Of course it will,” you might be tempted to say.  But, the reality is it won’t, and here’s why.  You see, money is a tool.  Nothing more, nothing less.  In-and-of-itself, money is neither moral nor immoral.  It simply is.  Like everything else, it can be used properly and bring a husband and wife closer together and closer to God, or it can be used foolishly and drive a wedge between spouses while becoming an idol that replaces God.  Money is also a magnifier.  It takes the impulses and tendencies you already have and makes them obvious.  If you are greedy, money will make you more so.  If you obsess over control, money will reveal that.  If you are irresponsible, it will be reflected in how you use your finances.  If you are hateful, you will try to bully and manipulate people through money.  If you do not find joy and contentment in your marriage without money, you will not find it with money.  Money might temporarily “hide the symptoms” and mask or suppress certain issues, but problems that existed before you have money will resurface after you have money, and often in worse ways.
     But if you give generously without money, you will give generously with money.  If you use money to bless others now, you will continue to look outside yourselves.  If you recognize money is an indicator of priorities in the marriage (remember, our resources always flow to our priorities), you will be even more keenly aware of it when there is more money.  If you are already using your marriage powerfully for the Kingdom of God now, money will only give you other avenues to continue to do so.  Money is a mirror into what is already in your heart, and it will be reflected into your marriage.
     Before you cash in that winning Powerball ticket, take an honest assessment.  What does the way you spend your money now say about your relationship with your spouse? About your relationship with God?  About your spiritual life together as a couple?  Remember, money is always a spiritual matter, and your answers will have both immediate and ongoing consequences for your marriage relationship.

Friday, January 1, 2016

My Marriage Heroes...

     I want to share two of my marriage heroes with you.  Nathan and Evelyn Graham are celebrating 70 years of marriage today, January 1, 2016.  Nathan is a World War II veteran, and he and Evelyn married just a few months after the war ended.  When they said their “I do’s,” he was 24 years old and she was just a few weeks shy of turning 19.
     Over the last 70 years, the Grahams have lived a lifetime together, experiencing both joys and heartaches, but no matter what life hands them, they have always leaned on each other and on their faith in God.
     Between divorce, death, and the trend toward couples marrying later in life, the likelihood of seeing many couples reach a 70th anniversary is indeed a rare occurrence. The Grahams’ anniversary is an incredible time to recognize the power of marriage, commitment, covenant, and Christ-centered love and living. Parents can point their children toward couples like the Grahams as a model of what Christian marriage is supposed to look like.  They are the living embodiment of “forsaking all others, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do we part. 
     While most of us will not see many (if any) 70th marriage anniversaries, take the time to talk with those couples you do know within your family, or church, or social circles who have healthy, long-term, Christ-centered marriages.  Find a couple who lives in love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, grace, and goodness.  Find a couple who uses their marriage for the Kingdom of God.  Find a couple who understands that at its heart, marriage is a spiritual covenant relationship, not just a social contract.  Find someone like the Grahams who with grace and humility can show you what it means to know God personally because it is evidenced by the way they interact with each other.
     I pray for many more years of celebrating with the Grahams, and I hope that you can celebrate and perpetuate Christ-centered marriage with whoever your marriage heroes are.