Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Forever Marriage

Adam and I were given the great blessing of attending a Christian Marriage Conference this past weekend. We're always interested in opportunities to refocus and recommit ourselves to each other; and the weekend away wasn't too bad either. Although I'm not at liberty to share much of the specifics about the weekend, I feel like I would be remiss in not saying anything about it.

The truth is, the weekend was a great blessing. And I just can't keep that to myself. It was convicting, eye opening, and overwhelming. So beautiful to meet couples who, in spite of trials, are committed to forever. It was a huge reminder that everyone has a story. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man" (1 Corinthians 10:13), meaning you are not alone in your struggles. There are people who have endured more or less, but we all have something.

I have written about this before, but somehow when I'm in the middle of a difficult time, a period of time in a process, I forget this important truth. God says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). He tells us we will have trouble. He also tells us these troubles will strengthen us (in James 1:3).

The idea, the reminder from this weekend, was that we have a choice in how we respond to what happens in our lives. That we can choose to live in a state of praise & thanksgiving. Christian speaker, Ken Poure says, "we can only think about one thing at a time. We can't worry and thank God at the same time." Never really thought about it like that before.

Humans are selfish. We worry about ourselves all the time. But praise is unselfish. It focuses our attention away from ourselves. "God is God and I am not" (Ken Poure). God is in charge! What a relief!

Andrew Murray, a South African writer, teacher, and Christian pastor, once said something along these lines:
"God brought me here. It is His will. In that I can rest. He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He wants me to learn. In His good time, He'll bring me out again."
I believe this way of thinking keeps us from blaming God when hard things come. It reminds us that we can either be the victim of what is happening or we can let the experience grow and strengthen our character.

Paraphrasing from Ken Poure: It's about sacrificial praise. Surrendering your right to control and your need to know why, your right to complain and groan, and your right to do it your own way.

"If it's happening you need it. Don't argue with God" (Ken Poure).

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