I will never forget the months leading up to our wedding — they were some of the most exciting days of my life. I asked Abby this week about some of the things she thought about the weeks before we got married. She was dreaming of living together with our nice home with the white picket fence, and about how we would be grown-ups together. She remembers being excited to live out her dreams with me and have financial freedom together. She just couldn’t wait to live life with me and one day have a great family.
And as I flash back to the days leading up and dreaming, I just couldn’t wait to …you know.
Ok, still dreaming…this is just kind of the way it is. We all have dreams and expectations and hopes, especially when we’re engaged and preparing for wedding bliss, but, when we look around at marriage in our culture today, it just doesn’t seem to reflect everything we had hoped for.
I have a great marriage and a great family, but, it isn’t exactly what we both thought it would be. It’s still great, just different. It’s harder than I thought. We have faced more challenges that I could have ever imagined.
Now, whether you have been married forever, single, or hopeful for a perfect relationship one day, we can all admit that so many marriages are just struggling.
I mean statistics speak for themselves. Depending on the source you read, somewhere around 50% marriages don’t make it. But, current projections are more like 75% chance of staying married. That number is a lot more encouraging but definitely not 100%.
In many other area of your life, a 25% success rate is just too great a risk to take. Think about your money: if there was a 25-50% chance you would lose everything, there’s no way you would invest. You would do everything possible to prepare and eliminate any potential danger of you losing anything at all.
What if the reason so many marriages struggle is because people are not actually spiritually prepared to live in a marriage that honors God? This is why, The VOW. In the next four weeks, we will be looking at 4 different vows. Today, we will be starting with The Vow of Priority.
What do I mean by the vow of priority? I mean keeping the priorities in the proper place in our relationships. How many of you have been to Disney in the past few years? What have Disney’s ever popular princess stories been teaching all of us over the years?
To be fulfilled in life, you have to meet The ONE. If we’re to live a life with any kind of purpose , purpose and meaning, we have to find the one. “The one” is that person that will gives you that feeling, like you’re walking on air, while woodland creatures are singing you a love song. the one that when you meet them you will just know.
The human condition gives us the desire to find the One for us. We desire to find the one that will complete us. The one that we are looking for. Well, i have some news for you: “the one” you love? Shouldn’t be your number one. God is your one and your spouse is your two.
One of Jesus’ biographers, Matthew, recorded His thoughts on this: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33) God is your one and if you focus on him then God will take care of you.
Jesus was once asked by someone, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. -Matthew 22:36-39
If we are going to have a marriage that honors God, then we put God first in our relationship and then our spouse is number two.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Hey Brad, I’m single…who is my two? But read it again: But, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. That is for married people and single people. If you are single now, then now is the time to prepare and this might be the vow you need to make today:
I’ll seek the One to be prepared for my two!
In other words, this means “I’m going to seek God, give my life to Him, He is my king, God is first in my life. I will serve God first so that God can prepare me for someone to serve Him with. But, God should always be my One. When God is One then I am prepared for my two.”
For those of you who are married, this is a new Vow we need to make to set priority in your marriage. God will be my First priority and my spouse will be my second. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? So simple that I just kept thinking — well, duh! We are at Church and that’s the answer…God is first. God doesn’t want anything before him.
But men, it makes so much of sense! Real talk, here: when my marriage is best, I am closest to God, and when I am putting my relationship with God first, my relationship with my wife is best. Think about this, all the men, women, single, married people reading right now: when you are in a growing relationship with God, everything is always at its bes. Why? God is hope…God is love.
But, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…and all these things will be provided for you.
Let’s get real for a minute. This is at the core of many of the issues we face in relationships. Because when we are dating, we made our girlfriend our priority; when we were engaged suddenly our boyfriend was the object of our affection.
Then, we got married. Often, our spouse is still the priority to please and make happy. Then, suddenly, we don’t know how it happened, but kids come along. (Actually, after 5 kids, Abby and I figured it out.) But, children come into the picture, and instead of having a vow of priority to God, suddenly your kids become the priority. All the things we do for our kids — packing lunches, doing homework, playing ball, driving to practices…even taking ourselves to work every day — is because you love your kids and want to provide for them. The intent is good and noble, but your marriage often is put on the shelf.
This is a reality for many of us. At times…me too! We find ourselves in a place where we barely can give God an hour on Sunday, and we give an hour to each other once a month (what was supposed to be our weekly date became our monthly check-in.)
And as the kids get older, we don’t even know each other. We get jealous of each other’s night out with the guys, or the weekend away with the girls. We fight, we complain, we give a cold shoulder, but here is the problem…we have been putting the pressure on our spouse for what only God can do.
We are asking our spouse and kids and work to meet a need that they were not designed to meet because God was always supposed to be your number One. We need to keep this priority in check. Don’t just write this off.
I want to see families, marriages, and singles flourish throughout our city, not just now, but as our families, marriages, and people mature. If we are going to do this then we have to get this right. God is my number ONE Priority. My spouse is not; my spouse is my number two.
Things that destroy our marriages aren’t necessary bad things. Work can be a good thing. Children are a great thing. Friends are good to have and those relationships matter. But, good things that are not properly prioritized correctly can be destructive things. We need to simply Protect Your Priorities. If you will get this now and are married, or even if you want to be married in the future, start protecting your priorities today. God will always be your number ONE and your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse will always be your number two.
I know that in my marriage, whenever I get my priorities wrong, this is when we have trouble in our relationship. If you’re married today, and you are struggling in anyway, I guarantee the underlying cause is because you and/or your spouse are not putting God first.
You want your marriage to grow? Serve God in the church together. Make attending church a priority for your marriage and your family. Seek God first every single day. Pray together. Read scripture together. Follow Jesus together. Protect the priority. God is the ONE. Spouse is two.
Parents: your children are important, but your children come in 3rd place. Kids are important, they’re a gift from God, but they are not as important as marriage. The greatest gift we can give our children is to prioritize God at One and our marriage as Two.
If you want to love your kids well then invest in and protect your priorities. Your Children are a temporary assignment, but marriage is a lifelong commitment. Don’t have the moment when your children are grown up and look at each other and say, “Who are you?”
If you want your kids to one day grow up and move out (PLEASE move out one day, kiddos) and see them succeed in marriage, then model what a successful marriage looks like by Protecting the Priorities. God is one. Spouse is two. Children are three. Or 3 through 7 in my case. I’m not going to tell you who is #7.
Model for your children what a God-honoring marriage looks like. That means prioritizing it. God is the ONE. Spouse is Two. Protect your priorities by keeping God first. We will bring our families to celebrate God as the Church. We will serve Jesus’s Church. We will study God’s word. We’re modeling this for our children! God is One.
Spouse is two. We make time for each other. We guard time to talk. We’re gonna have date night. We are gonna have a getaway night. You are modeling this for your children. Spouse is two. Can’t afford it? We just talked about lying two weeks ago…you can’t afford not to.
Get a tent, grab a blanket and have a picnic outside. Play Netflix for the kid, light a candle, and make some mac and cheese. Make it cheap and romantic. Love makes a way. Protect your priorities.
God is ONE. Spouse is TWO.