When Shirley and I committed our lives to each other on that warm August night in Pasadena all those years ago, it was a prayer that best captured everything we would hope to be and achieve during our marriage. My father and my uncle, Rev. David L. Sharp, conducted the ceremony that evening, and it was my dad who offered these stirring words to heaven:
O eternal God: We bring Thee our children, Jimmy and Shirley. They were Thine, but Thou in love didst lend them to us for a little season to care for, to love, and to cherish. It has been a labor of love that has seemed but a few days because of the affection we bear them. Fresh from Thy hand they were in the morning of their lives. Clean and upright, but yet two separate personalities. Tonight we give them back to Thee—no longer as two—but as one flesh. May nothing short of death dissolve the union here cemented. And to this end let the marvelous grace of God do its perfect work!
It is also our earnest prayer for them, not that God shall have a part of their lives, but that He shall have the preeminent part; not that they shall possess faith, but that faith shall fully possess them both; that in a materialistic world they shall not live for the earthly and temporal alone, but that they shall be enabled to lay hold of that which is spiritual and eternal.
Let their lives together be like the course of the sun—rising in strength, going forth in power, and shining more and more unto the perfect day. Let the end of their lives resemble the setting of the sun—going down in a sea of glory, only to shine on undimmed in the firmament of a better world than this.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Isn't that a wonderful description of the purpose of marriage? A man and a woman are joined together as "one flesh," forever united by God's grace in a holy effort to achieve the best He has to offer—a life shining like the sun, built on love for the Lord, on a fully realized faith, and on the promise of the eternal.
If you and your mate genuinely want to experience God's best for your marriage—a relationship characterized by true love and genuine intimacy—you must face the truth about your standing before Him. According to the Bible, we are all born with a sinful nature (Romans 3:23). This sin problem prevents us from living God's way, whether as individuals or as a married couple. In fact, unresolved sin will block even your strongest efforts to have a successful marriage, because the inescapable outcome of sin is slavery to our worst impulses and—eventually—death (see Romans 6:23).
But there is a wonderful alternative! Jesus Christ paid the price for your sin through His death on the cross. And through His miraculous resurrection, He rescued you from eternal destruction. You can reach out in faith to receive your free gift of new life. Jesus put the Good News this way: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
It really is that simple: If you choose to repent of your sin and receive the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, you will be forgiven and receive His gift of eternal life.
Jesus loves you and longs for fellowship with you. When you kneel before Christ and spend time with Him in prayer, you draw closer to Him and bring joy to heaven. If you do not have this kind of relationship with Jesus, I invite you to offer the following prayer tonight. Intimacy in marriage begins with intimacy with the Lord. For every human being who invites Jesus into his or her heart, that is the moment real life begins!
God, I am a sinner in need of You. I can't live right or hope for eternal life on my own. Please forgive my sins. I believe that Jesus Christ is Your only Son. You sent Him to die in my place and set me free from sin. Thank You! Amen.
Action Items for Establishing a Christ-Centered Home
•Have you and your mate each made the choice to receive God's gift of salvation? If not, what is keeping you from making that choice, and how can you overcome it?
•When was your last meaningful prayer time with your partner? If you're not already doing so, plan to pray together daily for the next two weeks. Talk about any changes that you see in your relationship with the Lord and with each other.
•Write down ways that you and your partner can encourage each other to spend more time in God's Word, then discuss them together.5 Essentials for Lifelong Intimacy
By Dr. James Dobson