February 23, 2015
When it comes to our marriages, suffering can threaten to extinguish the flame of intimacy. As we lean into Christ’s sacrificial love for us, we then begin to see our marriages again flourish.
How passionate is your marriage? Do you find yourself looking back and wondering where the fire went, and how you can get it back?
When our youngest daughter got married she was struggling with a severe case of plantar fasciitis in both feet. The pain kept her from her favorite sports, and even made walking difficult.
Months of treatment during her engagement brought enough relief to allow her to walk down the aisle, rather than roll down in a wheelchair as she had feared— but after that her feet got worse. She began to grasp at treatments like straws. One after another promised help, then failed to deliver.
Finally a new doctor sent her to a new physical therapist who proposed a different treatment. For it to work he wanted her completely off her feet for 8-12 weeks. Our daughter was reduced to wheelchairs in public and crawling or scooting around their little apartment.
This wasn’t exactly the way they wanted to start their marriage. It was hard. There had been lots of setbacks and tears, and now it felt like they were back to ground zero, deeply discouraged. Instead of romance there was testing; instead of dates, doctor visits; instead of passion, pain. The honeymoon was over fast.
Or was it? Our daughter’s treatments had radically altered her ability to do simple chores, so her husband had to pick up the slack. First, he had to pull his nose out of whatever book he was reading. Then he had to respond to her many requests.
He took over all the housework, putting feet to her instructions. Over time he anticipated her requests. Instead of being preoccupied with his studies, he paid attention to her. And he became compassionate, riding the roller coaster of hope and despair with her to keep her company.
He didn’t just put down his books, he laid down his life.
As Valentines Day comes and goes we reflect on how the day lived up to our expectations. Maybe you bought flowers or lingerie, hoping to purchase a little passion. You aren’t alone. Many want to relight the fire of our early days, or at least fight the doldrums of business-as-usual and taking-each-other-for-granted.
But God has other ways to reignite passion. Trials turn up a heat that has the potential to melt our hearts together. Oh, it’s not pleasant. The first blast cracks our shell of self-sufficient routine. We didn’t even know it was there until the dry husk blew past us. Exposed, we cling to each other and pray.
God then turns the potential of the fiery trial into the reality of passion.
In the moment it’s not pretty, or romantic. It’s hard, scary, and exhausting. But it’s passionate because it proves our love.
Self-sacrificing love is the most passionate love in the universe.
Romance is nice but it’s not the force that will resurrect our intimacy. Passion is. Christ’s passion of self-sacrificing love awakens us to love deeply because he loved us first. As suffering forces sacrifice on us, Jesus helps us lay down our lives for each other.
That’s when he unexpectedly blesses us. We fall into each other’s arms at the end of a difficult day and find we’re more “one flesh” than ever before.
We had dinner with our daughter and her husband shortly after their first anniversary to celebrate the end of her treatments. “How are you both? How did God help you this year?” That’s when he told us the story I just told you, the story of how he learned to sacrifice for her, and how her trial became their trial. She could only nod vigorously, tears choking her words.
Then the four of us took a walk. We walked behind, watching them. They walked. Walked. Holding hands and talking together.
Rondi entered the Ivy League full of personal ambition and left under a new Master. Her passion is to help women see Jesus in the Word and be nourished by him. She has been a pastor’s wife for over thirty years, a mother of three, and now a very happy grandmother. She and her husband Mark live in San Diego, where she blogs at feastingonchrist.com. Follow her on Twitter @feastonchrist.
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