Friday, June 28, 2013

Marriage and Pruning

Today’s guest post is from my amazing wife Nikki Leake. Nikki is the wife of yours truly, the mommy to Isaiah (5)  and Hannah (2). She is also a very talented musician and gives vocal, piano, and guitar lessons at Hometown Music in Huntingburg, IN. Eventually, she’ll have some songs to share with us here at Borrowed Light.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” –Jeremiah 17:7-8

Recently,our family took a little jaunt to Hannibal, Mo; the home of my husband and I’s alma mater and many, many precious memories. We enjoyed the changing campus, and reminisced the days of our meeting and subsequent courtship. It was a special blessing to share our memories with our two young children.

One specific place my husband and I used to frequent was the HLG nature trail. We took our children down the winding trail in search of something very dear to us. For the longest time we had no success in finding our treasure. Our hearts dropped into our stomachs with the thought of not being able to share this very unique symbol with our children…until finally I heard those sweet words, “I found it!”

Overjoyed, I ran to where my husband was standing and my smile quickly faded. “Is that it? Are you sure?” was all I could muster. He was right. There it was, hunched over and choked beneath layers of intertwined trees, shrubs, and weeds.

You see, nearing the end of our year and a half long courtship, in order to demonstrate his hopes for our future together, my husband had planted a tree. A beautiful flowering Dogwood tree (sweet, huh?) He led me to the tree and read Jeremiah 17:8. It has been our hope that our marriage would reflect Jeremiah 17:8; rooted in Christ and fruitful in all seasons.

The last time that we had visited our special spot (a couple years ago) our tree was healthy and growing towards the sky with promise. Now, looking at our struggling tree, it didn’t take long for me to hear the Lord’s admonitions. As we pulled away all of the intruders to ensure the well-being of our tree, the potent and transforming symbolism struck me.

Our precious tree needed pruning.

This pruning experience seems easier in most relationships except marriage. Perhaps it is because we put so much of our identity in our marriages. Pruning hurts.

Yet, God has given us the high calling of reflecting Himself and His relationship with His Bride. If our marriages are to even faintly accomplish this goal, we must clear away the weeds and thorns that threaten to choke even the healthiest and happiest of marriages.

Reflecting upon the pruning that is often needed in marriages, I thought of five major culprits. Here are the five, followed by a Scripture passage that I have found helpful in battling them—these cut to the core of our hearts and motivations:

  1. Bitterness. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  Mark 11:25
  2. Selfishness. I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you.   And here is how to measure it -- the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. John 15:12
  3. Harshness. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
  4. Self-preservation. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience  Colossians 3:12
  5. Fleshly eyes: From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16a (Jesus loves our spouses more than we do. Am I seeing my spouse with the eyes and heart of God right now?)

Our marriages are definitely worth all of the time, energy, love, nurturing…and yes…pruning we can afford. They are one of the most powerful weapons that will ever be ours to wield. May we be found faithful with them.

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