This month marks 24 years of marital bliss for my husband and I. We have a wonderful marriage. That said, it has not all been bliss, as I’m sure every married reader knows intimately, and the unmarried can guess.
Even on our best days, there is still evidence of our sinful nature bubbling to the surface of conversations and circumstances. There is still evidence of the fateful day in the garden of Eden so long ago when that sneaky serpent deceived with a carefully crafted question.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”Genesis 3:1
That sinful decision made by the first married couple (Adam and Eve) wreaked havoc on all of humanity and creation from that time forward. The ramifications of sin entering the world are seen everywhere you look, whether observing mankind or nature. Even on a lovely walk on a perfectly beautiful day, the manifestation of the fall is obvious simply by looking at the protective, yet destructive and hurtful thorns on a cactus.
“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…”Genesis 3:17-18
Like thorns on a cactus, in a marriage we can often be “prickly”. The times which I hurt my husband the most are often when I’m trying to defend myself from a perceived threat. Unfortunately, my protection of self results in being hurtful to him and destructive to our marriage.
Back some years ago, we went to a married couples retreat. The speaker was a man whose ministry we respect and whose teaching we thoroughly enjoy. The first session started out as normal. A time of worship in praise and song, leading into a time of teaching, or so we thought. After the singing was over, the speaker stood up and said he had a great Bible teaching for us but he felt convinced there was more important work that needed to be done first.
His instruction: “Everyone, get alone somewhere with the Lord and confess your sin to Him, audibly. Once you are done, meet back up with your spouse and confess your sin to one another.” That was not what we had came to hear! But I tell you, that hour of life (if it was even that long!), was a defining one. Our marriage has not been the same since.
By God’s grace, we have continued to grow and mature based on that one non-teaching, teaching.
- We have become quicker to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other.
- We desire to be right with God and one another so there would be true healing.
- We don’t want to allow the serpent (or our sinful flesh) any foothold in our marriage union; confession and prayer are an invaluable help in that regard.
The dry, dusty cactus garden in this picture is reflective of what life often feels like in general, and specifically in marriage. And yet, this is not God’s design. Confession of sin and repentance should be the regular routine of every Christian in order that our sins would be blotted out and times of refreshing may come from the Lord. If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I need both…forgiveness and cleansing!
Even the most defensive cactus has the potential to produce beauty. There is always hope in any marriage, no matter how difficult it has been to this point in time. One spouse can not change another but thankfully we are responsible for our own actions and hearts before the Lord. It all starts with confessing our sin to God; a very difficult but simple act of obedience and faith which can greatly change the trajectory of any marriage!