As the new year approaches, it tends to be a time of resolutions, new beginnings and "turning over a new leaf." Often these decisions impact us as individuals — we buy gym memberships, join Weight Watchers or commit to spend more time in the Word. But what if this year we spent time making resolutions for the good of our marriage relationship? This new year could be a great time to evaluate our relationship as husband and wife.
Amid the busyness of life, we often forget that there is an actual purpose for which God united us with our spouse. It's critical we recognize that marriage must be about something bigger and more meaningful than just pursuing happiness, collecting stuff, buying a bigger house or winning petty arguments.
When you were united as one with your husband or wife, God already knew the potential of that union. He knew the power potential being formed when you committed to each other. The power in your union flows from a couple as a result of what God does in marriage when He takes two individuals and makes them one. He unites couples to do together what they could never do alone. In essence, God has a plan for your marriage that is much larger than you could have imagined.
I wish my wife, Erin, and I understood this concept when we married almost 24 years ago. It would have redirected our focus off of ourselves and it would have allowed us to ask the Lord much earlier what He had in mind when He brought us together.
Although we didn't understand this concept at first, we've since been through a few different seasons in our married life when we have asked this question. About eight years into our marriage, Erin and I spent time at a family camp teaching on this subject. As we sent the conferees out to pray together and ask the Lord what He was calling them to do as a couple, we did the same. It was clear to both of us that we were being called to adopt. We were blessed with our little Annie almost eight years later.
As we continue to ask God, "What now, Lord?" He continues to answer. During the current season of our family life, we feel called to minister together to other married couples. Right now this takes place through teaching together at marriage enrichment events and working alongside each other at Focus on the Family.
We never would have dreamed that this would be what we would do together. Erin had clearly informed me prior to marrying me that she would be happy to sit in the front row and pray for me while I taught (and also offer constructive feedback), but I was never to ask her to step on the stage with me. However, God had a different idea. We now enjoy teaching together and we continue to seek the Lord for direction in what He is calling us to do as a couple.
How about you and your spouse? What is the Lord is calling you to? With the new year approaching, it's a wonderful time to ask this question. Be open to what God may be calling you to do together. Consider the following:
- Lead a Bible study in your home
- Serve in leadership roles in your church
- Spend time on the mission field
- Give financially to a ministry
- Work with troubled youth
- Lead a prayer ministry
- Mentor another married couple
- Help a troubled marriage
As Erin and I have sought the Lord regarding His plan for our marriage, we've been amazed by the deep intimacy and satisfaction it has brought to our relationship with each other. Let me encourage you to find a cause in 2016 that you and your spouse are both passionate about. Find something that benefits those beyond your marriage relationship and then trust the Lord to use you and your marriage in the new year.
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family and the co-author of Take the Date Night Challenge.