Marriage: A formidable team of two

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“Scissor blades frequently go in different directions, but they are most powerful when coming together.”

Three incidents in the last one month starkly stand out in my mind. All of them relate to oneness of purpose in marriage. During a couple’s retreat I attended, Rev and Mrs Kwame Rubadiri spoke about the need for spouses to serve together or in ways that complement each other, giving an example of their lives where they have always served in a way that allows them to be together. They seemed to imply that serving in church (and other ministry) should not pull a couple apart but help them achieve oneness in marriage.

Later a friend was telling me that she needed to find out what her husband’s mission was so she could align herself as a wife to that and be able to support him.

“If my husband goes to work out of the country today, the fact is that I will pack my bags and follow him. If he decides God is calling him to be a pastor, that affects me,” she said seeming to hold to heart Paul’s word in I Cor 11:9 when he says ““for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.” She seeks to serve her husband in all ways.

Finally last weekend at a seminar one man expressed concern that there were few common grounds between his area of service and his wife’s. He wondered if God could send one spouse to work in Wajir while the other’s ground was in Kajiado.

It’s then I stumbled on an article by Ngina Otiende, author and blogger at Intentional Today, where in encouraging couples to seek unity of purpose, she challenged them to ask themselves this question: “Why does my marriage exist?”

Why does your marriage exist?

Ngina went on to explain: “I believe the reason we are married is because God thought we would have greater impact in the Kingdom as team of two. The dynamic of teamwork is meant to transform you to a powerhouse.Marriage is supposed increase your impact and effectiveness

“Now you can be quite formidable as a single person. In fact some of the most sold-out, on-fire, storming-the-gates-of-hell-kind-of-people are single. And I believe that’s why God takes that singular power (or potential) and multiplies it in a marriage union. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen,” writes Ngina.

Now I liked that. Do I know what I am called to do, and what my husband is called to do (Be), and did we have a game plan or revelation on how to harmonise these visions and agendas to be a formidable team in God’s kingdom?

 

Ecclesiastes 4: 9 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour”.

Jesus also said in Mathew that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there, and many preachers and writers have pointed out that there is no better two than a married couple.

Once you are married, you are not meant to walk (or cycle) your path alone. You are nor supposed to pursue your purpose in isolation. You aren’t meant to achieve your dreams alone. Becoming one, behaving like one, is part of God’s plan for a husband and wife (Genesis 2:24-25).

We are a formidable team when we parent as two. We are formidable when we pray as a team… when we invest as one… when we serve as one… when we plan together…

Strong alignment is the secret to a truly strong marriage.

Christian blogger Liam Naden compares marriage to a bike ride, where you have to stick together to stay together. Be on the same ‘journey’ – always, and at the same time.

“Unfortunately, many couples forget to stay on the same road. They think they’re going in the right direction and are both aiming for the same place – which is of course to be happy – but they forget that the journey is the most important part,” she says.

Ngina observes that for many couples, the being-marriedness begins to consume their energy and focus.

“We get wrapped up with “us” – our lifestyle, our problems and squabbles, our future, our money, our careers, our family, our house, our vacations..us us us,” she writes. “We rarely pause to ask “Wait a minute… Did God have a specific thing in mind when He hooked us up?””

A purposeful marriage is made up of two purposeful individuals. You need to figure out what your purpose is as an individual first. What has God called you to do? Then harmonise that in marriage- two dreams becoming one.

“Remember that purpose is not something you assign yourself. Purpose proceeds from God. He deposits desires and dreams in our hearts and then stirs us toward achieving them,” she asserts.

The power in “agreement”, “unity”, “oneness”, “being one” and “covenant” holds the potential to radically transform your marriage.

Writer Dennis Rainey says that oneness is about a husband and wife who are grafting intimacy, trust, and understanding with one another and chiseling out a common direction, purpose and plan.

Intimacy. Trust. Common direction. Purpose. Plan.

He concludes: “A oneness marriage demands a lifetime process of relying on God and forging an enduring relationship according to His design. It’s more than a mere mingling of two humans—it’s a tender merger of body, soul, and spirit.”

Big goal, merger of body, soul and spirit. Is it even attainable?

Ngina says that the decision to work as one takes an intentional choice on the part of both spouses.

Nadem says couples need to be one when it comes to goals, values and core beliefs. Do you want the same things? Do you support each other in individual goals? Are the same sorts of things important to you? Are you on the same page about fundamental issues such as bringing up children, lifestyle, finances, health and spirituality?

“The more aligned you are in your marriage the faster you can move ahead and the more you can enjoy the journey of your life,” says Nadem.

couple hands

 How to align yourselves

Talk: No matter where you are in your marriage, think about and talk about your goals, values and beliefs. Align them as much as possible. Be on the same journey, on the same road.

Prayer: Through prayer God reveals His purpose to you and your spouse. David Penley, author of Couple Connect says it’s important for couple to pray together. “Prayer acknowledges Christ as the Lord of your marriage. It connects you together spiritually. It allows you to hear each other’s thoughts and prayers, which helps you understand your spouse better. It brings a special intimacy as you seek God together. Hearing God’s word together fosters discussion of God’s direction and plan,” he says. Since God is the architect and builder of marriages, as we ask God for wisdom and search the Scriptures, He supplies the skill to build our homes. Kate Scoggins opines that you cannot have a successful marriage without prayer.

Support each other: Nadem writes that part of honouring God in your marriage means to support and push your spouse in fulfilling their purpose. Husbands and wives unite and align on their individual purposes and thus the purpose in marriage.

Have you found the purpose your marriage exists?

 

 

 

RESOURCES

http://intentionaltoday.com/why-you-must-align-your-marriage-to-gods-purpose/

David Penley WHAT IS ONENESS? — A Couple’s Bible Study

http://liamnaden.com/the-power-of-alignment-in-creating-a-great-marriage/

http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/staying-married/gods-plan-for-marriage/the-foundation-of-a-oneness-marriage

http://simplyoneinmarriage.com/oneness-in-marriage-part-1-what-the-bible-says/

http://simplyoneinmarriage.com/oneness-in-marriage-part-3-what-the-bible-says/

 

 

22 things I would tell a younger me

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You are beautiful. Inside and out. You are not created like anyone else. You were made by God, every part of you. He quietly knit you together in the secret place. So forget the low self esteem and love you. Believe that someone else can love you. You are not defined by the length of your legs or colour of your skin or texture of your hair. (By the way your hair is just awesome). Every part of you, every quack in your personality, he made it for his glory. Make the best out of what you have and always put your best foot forward. Project how you want to be addressed.

On schooling- go the extra mile and then another. Don’t settle for good enough just because your good enough is the best many have seen. Your potential is so much more. Push yourself out of your peer’s comfort zone. And apply for courses and funding out of your comfort zone. You just never know. Know that your grades might not determine whom you become in future. They will open up opportunities, yes, but don’t be shocked when your future deviates from what you learnt in school.

On dating- Take loving slowly. Very slowly. Dating isn’t about casually playing with people’s hearts. Your heart will get entangled deeply. Too deeply that it will scar you for many years and will take divine healing to be okay once more. Don’t give your body to anyone before marriage. Sexual relationships when single complicate life, bring heartache and have a way of reaching from your past into your present, bringing along baggage you will wish you never touched in the first place. Keep yourself for the man who is hopefully keeping himself for you. There is a lot of beauty in being innocent on your wedding night.

On personal growth. You may feel limited by your exposure, background, school, resources, family, personality. Just keep your heart open, read voraciously, embrace every opportunity that takes you out of what you already know and love change because it is here you grow. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t let your inexperience affect you attitude. Time will change everything. Give yourself grace.

On dreams. Dream as much and as high as you want. No one can put a cap on your imagination. Paint the best future you can while your heart is still unbridled and your passion yet untampered.

On loss. You will lose things you love, people you love. Don’t hold on too tightly to things, people. We are all transient. So enjoy the moments God gives you with the people, make the most of every opportunity. And if you lose things you love or money, you are alive to work for more. God does restore years the locusts have stolen.

On career. You can choose money or you can choose passion. You will be lucky if your passion pays well. But if you choose the big bucks over heart, disillusionment and stress will eventually check in. Make this a short term strategy to gain experience, make a name or make money to fund your passion. Working to pay bills is emotionally draining with each passing day if you have no larger reason for doing what you do. Find your passion, know your mission, know what you are great at and make money out of these.

On planning a wedding. Have a wedding. And invite you friends and your parent’s friends. let them witness God’s faithfulness. Plan it your way. Let the day reflect you as a person and as a couple and let it speak to you. Because your life is about to turn around and you will need to be fully awake.

On friends. Life-long friends are few and far between. But in every phase of life you will have good friends. Love them. Enjoy the gift. And when it comes time to let go, do so without burning bridges. You never know where your paths will cross again.

On work. Always give your best. Brand you is brand excellence. It’s brand I-am-putting-my-heart-and-mind-into-this. Believe in your abilities and never stop learning. Like Steve Jobs said, stay hungry, stay foolish. You have many talents, mad skills, great passion and a big heart and mind. Make them count. Touch lives. leave a mark. Your work is your gift to God and mankind. Serve God’s purposes in your generation. Always know you have a heavenly master.

On family. You will never quite understand what it means to lay your life for another until you have children of your own and you know by God you could give up your life, career, comfort, for them. Treasure motherhood, honour your marriage. I know God will bring you  good man because he is a good God like that. FYI marriage and parenting will change your life, forever, in all the good ways. Embrace that. Learn kindness. And remember that in life, most of your happiness will come from good health and family. Guard those jealously.

On weaknesses. You will feel inadequate a lot of times. That is the time to lean heavily on God. Don’t settle for mediocrity; we have the help of the Holy Spirit. But understand that you will never arrive in this life; we will never be perfect. Again we are all different. You might never love early mornings. Work on what you can but focus on what you are actually good at, great at. Even your weaknesses in other contexts are strengths. Find where you can thrive.

On hard times. They don’t last forever. You wont eat plain spaghetti forever in you little bedsitter. You wont always worry about tomorrow. Broken hearts get healed. The lost get found. Even the worst hurts are forgiven. Always hope for a better day.

On unanswered prayers. They are sometimes God’s best gift to us. That boy who broke your heart was a gift from heaven. That job you never got was God’s hand at work. In all things give thanks and trust the unseen hand that moves everything.

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Stay true to yourself. If your inner child loves classical music, feed it. If it loves space, travel, parties, colour, live true to you. You are unique. Do you. You are not a mistake. Don’t try to be a cheap knockoff of someone else. Don’t live in people’s moulds and expectations. It will suck your soul dry.

Do things you love even if you are not great at them. Play the piano. Sing. Dance even if you suck at it. The joy they bring and the memories cannot be quantified.

Your feelings are valid. So don’t feel bad about loving or getting angry or embarrassed. Don’t feel bad about feeling everything a little too deeply.

Not everyone will like you and that’s okay. You also don’t like everyone, everything. Forgive those who hurt you intentionally or not. Free your heart.

Don’t doubt that your parents love you. They may speak a different love language but know they always want the best for you.  Honour them.

Be kind to people. Especially those who least expect it. Be a good person.

When you can’t understand the bigger picture, trust God who always connects the dots. He never wastes any experience. Its true all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Every path you walk, experience you have, play a role in the divine plan.

On God. He is a good father. He loves you more than you will ever understand. He is not vindictive. He is not out to get you.  So deepen your relationship with Him. Faith in God is a solid foundation. It is all that remains when everything else is shaken. Faith. Hope. Love.

 

Children are like arrows

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I am greatly inspired by a song by Central Kenya musician Loise Kim titled Mwana, which was nominated for the Groove Awards 2017. In the song, she blesses her children, tells them they are blessings and not curses and that they were designed for greatness and to rule. She wishes them strength, courage, hope and faith in God. She calls them her gifts from God, a reward and arrows in a warrior’s hands. I listened to the song and blessed my children along with her.

This led me to read up on what it means when the Bible says that children are a heritage, a gift, like arrows. From several sermons and articles online, I garnered the following:

  1. Dr Rick Taylor in a 2015 article titled “Children are Like Arrows” notes that it is easy to start seeing our children as obstacles that keep us from doing things we want or desire, to see them as annoyances that irritate us and distract us from things we deem more important. But the biblical reminder is children are a gift. A commentary on BibleHub notes that children are to be counted as blessings and not burdens: he who sends mouths will send meat if we trust in him.
  2. Children are a heritage; the Lord’s possession, the Lord’s property. God assigns them to be grown under the parents’ care. So your child belongs to God, you are just a caretaker.
  3. God has entrusted us with our children for a time. He sees us as warriors in the midst of battle and He wants us to prepare and then send our children far into a future that we will not be a part of. The children belong to Him, but He has gifted them to us for a period of time to accomplish certain things He has designed. It is as if God has contracted parents to participate in the raising of His children.
  4. The fruit of the womb is the trophy of God’s love. Wise parents and grandparents take pleasure in children. From God’s point-of-view there is no such thing as an “accidental birth” or a “surprise pregnancy” or an “unwanted child.” Each one belongs to Him and is assigned rightly by Him to the parents.
  5. Children are a great support and defense to a family. Steve Higginbotham in a 2009 sermon points out that like arrows, children need external direction and guidance to be successful. “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23), “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26), “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). To “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) necessitates abundant parenting, significant amounts of spiritual direction and guidance.
  6. Like arrows, Higginbotham says, children need an archer (father) and bow (mother). Without an archer an arrow never takes flight. Without a bow, an arrow can be nothing more than a puny spear. The accuracy and force of an arrow is largely dependent upon the aim and strength of the archer and the integrity and caliber of the bow. Because it was a life-or-death matter, great concern and effort were given to developing the skill of accurately aiming and rightly releasing an arrow. In far too many parents’ minds today, conceiving and raising children are viewed, at best, as recreational matters, rather than solemn spiritual responsibilities. Therefore, as many children mature they have little, if any, sense of purpose.
  7. Like arrows, children must be aimed and released. Arrows are made differently and for different work but they are also very similar — each has been carefully fashioned and crafted, molded and balanced. They’re all intended for flight. They’re all intended for a target. They’re all intended for maximum impact on that target. To talk about arrows without talking about targets is absurd. Arrows, especially in ancient days, were not recreational toys or childish playthings. They were weapons used for livelihood (i.e. hunting) and self-preservation (i.e. warfare).
  8. Alan Smith in a 2002 sermon titled “Arrows In the Hands of a Warrior” notes that children are very different from one another. They have different looks, interests, personalities. But they’re also very similar because each of them was fashioned and crafted by God. And each of them is being molded, balanced, and readied for flight from the home. Arrows are designed to fly. They aren’t for show. They were never intended to stay in a quiver. The quiver is just a vehicle that carries them until they are ready for release. You might say that arrows were made to be released. They were made to fly. They were made to pierce a target. Smith adds that children were never intended to stay within the four walls of the home. The home is a merely a means to prepare them and mold them and straighten and balance them. But the time is coming when they will be released. Our children were designed by their Creator to make an impact on the world. To live for a reason. To set their minds toward a goal. To accomplish a purpose. To count for something in God’s great scheme of things. God once said of Abraham, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice…” (Genesis 18:19).
  9. Children should be aimed at godliness (Malachi 2:15) so that they will “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) from the days of their youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1) “unto death” (Revelation 2:10). In the heat of an intense and dangerous battle no warrior would view the aiming and releasing of his arrows as a casual matter; the stakes are too high.
  10. Ultimately our children are responsible as individuals before their heavenly Father for the flight they take and the mark they make. But as a father or mother, as a warrior, you are also responsible to release those precious arrows to the best of your ability.
  11. You must decrease as they increase. In John 3:30, there’s a turning point in his ministry where John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ, “He must increase, I must decrease.” That describes well the role of a parent with our own children. Their personal responsibility to the Lord must increase; their personal responsibility to Mom and Dad must decrease.
  12. Arrows allowed a warrior to impact a battle scene from a great distance. In a similar way, we can impact the world through our children in a way we could never do by ourselves. Paul said the same thing to the Corinthian Christians, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” (2 Corinthians 3:2). Everywhere our children go, people will look at them and see the results of our teaching.
  13. Steve reminds us that like arrows, children have great potential for good and evil. Few things in life are more devastating than the regrets of careless, foolish, shortsighted parents. Consider what heartache God says awaits them: “He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy” (Proverbs 17:21).
  14. Like arrows, children are a one shot deal. Children who are young, may be directed aright to the mark, God’s glory, and the service of their generation; but when they are gone into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to direct them then. As David so poignantly proved with the death of his rebellious son Absalom, there are no do-overs in parenting. What a sad epitaph it is when it can honestly be said, “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

At what bull’s eye are you aiming your children? Let us help our children find their identity, build their character, develop relationships and be ready and released for their mission.

Below is a prayer by Steve for his son. I found it as poignant as Loise Kim’s song and you can probably adopt it for your own children as you release them into the world:

“To a world very much needing his character, gifts, skill, and love for Christ, we proudly and humbly this is our beloved [state name of child] in whom we are well pleased. Like an arrow fashioned not to remain in the quiver but to be released into the heart of its target, we release him/her to adulthood. We know him/her to be thoughtful, capable and mature. He/she is the message we release to a world we will never see. He/she is a man/woman. We release him/her to his manhood.womanhood and all of its responsibilities. To the finding and cherishing of a godly and supportive wife/husband, to the begetting and raising by God’s grace and design of believing children. And to the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to go into all the world, making followers of all people, teaching them to observe the rich and life-giving truths of His holy scriptures.”

 

Links

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/LikeArrows.html

http://thewellcommunity.org/blogs/kids-connection/children-are-like-arrows