I heard a man talk about his 9-year-old’s son passion to ride hoverboards. The dad wanted to be cool and impress his son but he just couldn’t master riding one without falling off, even though he’s a pretty athletic guy. His young son kept telling him, “Dad, just think about where you want to go and it’ll go there.” The dad thought that was absurd so he kept “oversteering” and falling off. When he finally took his young son’s advice, it worked. Thinking about the direction created subtle changes in his feet, and that was all that was needed to steer the hoverboard. So what does this have to do with cherishing your spouse?
This notion of “thinking about where you want to go and you’ll go there” is thoroughly biblical. We’re told to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). In Philippians 4:8, Paul essentially tells us to “think about what you think about.” That is, direct our minds into spiritually profitable places.
We’re wrapping up our summer long “Cherish Challenge” and in a sincere desire to give this challenge legs, we’re ending with how God continually pours out his power so that we can keep cherishing an imperfect person. Just like riding a hoverboard, it’s all in our head.
Near the end of my Cherish seminars I make the case that those who are able to sustain a cherishing marriage with an imperfect spouse (and of course there are no perfect spouses) meditate often on the kindness and grace of God; those who give up cherishing their spouse meditate often on the faults and failures of their spouse. A high-functioning marriage depends entirely on what direction our minds are pointed.
What I love about this is that, once again, the key to what we need to succeed in marriage is the key to what we need to fulfill God’s purpose for life in general. Marriage can train us to become the kind of people we should be in all respects and in all relationships.
Because I spend entirely too much time obsessed with myself, my standing before God, my obedience or lack thereof, etc., reading J.I. Packer’s reflections on the life of Nehemiah (A Passion for Faithfulness) was one of the most refreshing “spiritual showers” I’ve ever taken. Like the wise sage that he was, Packer calls us to redirect our thinking back to where it should be: the beauty, the power, the glory and the might of our God. Thinking about God, adoring God, reminding ourselves of His unparalleled beauty and perfect nature, gives us motivation, hope, encouragement and direction like nothing else can.
Packer points out how the strength, motivation and empowering presence that fueled Nehemiah’s incredible accomplishment (rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem in the face of much opposition) grew out of his obsessive focus on the qualities and excellencies of God: “The God of Nehemiah is the transcendent Creator, the God ‘of heaven’ (1:4-5; 2:4, 20), self-sustaining, self-energizing, and eternal (‘from everlasting to everlasting,’ 9:5). He is ‘great’ (8:6), ‘great and awesome’ (1:5, 4:14), ‘great, mighty and awesome’ (9:32), and the angels (‘the multitudes of heaven’) worship him (9:6). Lord of history, God of judgment and mercy, ‘a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love’ (9:17; see Exodus 34:6-7). God was to Nehemiah the sublimest, most permanent, most pervasive, most intimate, most humbling, exalting, and commanding of all realities. The basis on which…Nehemiah attempted great things for God and expected great things from God was that…he had grasped the greatness of God himself.”
So, let me restate this for marriage: “God is to a cherishing husband and wife the sublimest, most permanent, most pervasive, most intimate, most humbling, exalting, and commanding of all realities. The basis on which they attempted great things for God and expected great things from God—including building a cherishing marriage—was that they had grasped the greatness of God himself.”
As we seek to build the “wall” of a cherishing marriage, we can apply the very same lesson: to believe great things for your marriage, your children, your friends, and your service you need to first grasp the greatness of God. Don’t focus on how weak you or your family are or how desperate the situation may be. Focus on the greatness of your God. Be willing to “try out” the supernatural power of God which can shepherd you and your marriage to green pastures you never dreamed existed.
It’s not foolish to hope when you root your hope in the power and presence of God. Just look at his track record! Throughout history God has saved the radically rebellious; he has emboldened the cowardly; he has healed the sick, given wisdom to the foolish and even made this amazing world out of…nothing. A God who can do that is a God who can do whatever needs to be done in your life, family or ministry.
Think less of the problem, and more of God’s intelligence; less of the challenge, and more of God’s provision; less of your sin and more of God’s grace; less of the need and more of God’s promised provision. Begin your prayers by adoring God, end your prayers thanking God, and never let a significant point of time go by without celebrating the wonders of God.
The theme of this website and blog is “Closer to Christ, Closer to Others.” As we draw nearer to God, we are able to draw nearer to our loved ones. And, in turn, the things we learn in drawing closer to each other can also be used to help us draw closer to God. It’s a glorious circle as we seek to live a wondrous God-centered life.
This is the last week of the Cherish Challenge. We’d love to hear your testimony about how God has used this summer to draw you closer to each other. You can write on our web page Cherish Challenge 2020.
Cherish Challenge Week 11
- Read chapter 13 of Cherish, “Biblical Power to Keep on Cherishing.”
- Share with each other your three favorite characteristics of God.
- Talk about how each of these characteristics of God can offer hope to you in your life, marriage, and family.
- Discuss ways that you can keep these qualities of God in the forefront of your mind.
- We’d love to hear how doing the Cherish Challenge this summer has helped the two of you grow closer together. Please share any testimonies with us so that we can in turn share them with others on our web page Cherish Challenge 2020.
- And a final favor: if you’ve read Cherish and enjoyed it, would you please leave a review on Amazon and/or Christianbook.com? We’d be so very grateful.
This article originally appeared here.