Andy and I have just come from the Auckland Prayer Breakfast where over 500 were gathered at Eden Park to pray for our city. It was truly amazing to worship God collectively and to pray fervently for issues that face our city and nation.
There were 4 prayers leaders and I was asked to speak on the area of Marriage and Family. I wanted to share what I spoke about because I feel that it’s relevant to each and every one of us.
“My husband Andy and I have been leading the ministry of FamilyLife for the last 24 years where our goal is to inspire and equip couples to stay successfully married for a lifetime. During that time, I have experienced God heal so many broken relationships …
Here’s what one husband said after attending our last marriage getaway:
“Where do I start? I thought we were coming to hopefully fix my wife! Turns out I had as many, if not more, issues than her. This has literally saved my marriage of 17 years. You have inspired me to give 100% not only to my wife but my children as well.”
Comments like these fuel my passion for building strong marriages and families … but you might be surprised to learn where that passion comes from.
It’s grown out of a messy upbringing. My mum has been divorced twice, along with two broken de-facto relationships (considering her background, there’s no wonder); I lived in an Air Force children’s home for a year, and throughout my teenage years I lived with guardians … who also divorced.
You probably all know the stats: with that background I was 5x more likely to commit suicide and 10x more likely to have psychological issues. And if Jesus hadn’t revealed Himself to me while at Uni I’m sure I would have succumbed to at least one of those.
A church initiative to help young students navigate life in a new city was a saving grace. A local church family kind of ‘adopted’ me while I studied for 3 years. I got to see first-hand how marriage and family is meant to work when God is present. I was invited round for Sunday lunches, family dinners and sleep-overs. Of course, with all the brokenness I’d seen I’d given up on the whole idea of marriage.
Now I had a completely different picture.
Fortunately, when Andy and I married we went to a FamilyLife weekend getaway and we learnt even more about how to build a marriage according to God’s Plan.
At that time, just one year into our young marriage, little did we know what we would face: 17 years of Andy on a kidney dialysis machine, 2 kidney transplants, cancer, a serious stroke, 2 heart attacks and the tragic death of our eldest daughter Natasha, at just 16 years old, in the Elim/OPC canyoning disaster in 2008.
Now why do I tell you all that?
When we share our own journey at our marriage events, without even being aware, we’ve been modelling to other couples, that despite serious challenges in life we can all still find deep significance and satisfaction in our marriage.
Think about this: Our marriages are taking place on a spiritual battlefield, not on a romantic balcony.
In Genesis, Satan targeted Adam and Eve – attempting to destroy their relationship with their creator and also with each other. And He is doing the same today.
We would all do well to remember this: My spouse is not my enemy!
Marriage is under attack as educators, politicians and the media try to redefine it. In fact, I can’t recall one Politician in this recent election who raised the idea that building strong marriages might just be one of the answers to so many problems that weigh down our country today.
We live in a beautiful country. It’s so majestic that New Zealand even has a nickname, Godzone. Isn’t that interesting when so many in this great land don’t know the God who created it. Those of us here who are married have one of the most amazing tools to tell people about God. It’s a marriage. A marriage built upon Jesus Christ.
Just as that church family modelled to me a different vision all those years ago, you too are modelling your marriage to others in your community. Your marriage is more significant than you may have thought.
By living out God’s principles for marriage in our own lives – in unconditional love, mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness, we are reflecting God to a younger generation who desperately needs Him.
Let’s each commit to rebuild the family in our spheres of influence, one marriage, one home at a time. May God grant us favour, not just in our own families but also in the lives of others – and may each of our legacies be mighty.”
Jump in Puddles