Monday, November 10, 2008
Here we are a third of the way through the month of November, the temperature is hovering around freezing and there is still some residue in our lawn from a Thursday evening wintry mix that left a light blanket of snow here in Northwest Iowa.
Winter is apparently upon us, and I have golf on the brain - sort of!
I spent the past three and a half days at Cursillo, a weekend devoted to providing a short course in Christian living to those who want to attend. It is always an awesome experience and I leave having been blessed far beyond anything that I could possibly have given to God or anyone else during those three days in the Hills.
I am now home and have a couple of blogs in my mind - the first the result of a conversation I heard between two men who were enjoying a little fellowship and getting to know one another.
I forget who the other gentleman was, but the evangelist who got my attention was this beautiful 71 year old guy named Phillip. He was telling whoever it is that he was talking to about playing golf with his wife.
"We play best shot," he said. "We go out there, each hit our shots, use the best one and in the end, it's our score. If we shoot 85, it's our score."
I was just sitting there in meditation, quietly thinking about a lot of different things - apparently eavesdropping, too - when Phillip's words pierced my heart. A few feet away is this guy talking about how he just loves spending time with his wife - even golfing.
That conversation took me back to times that weren't so wonderful in my life - when my wife and I were on our own paths, doing our own thing, often fighting as if our very lives depended on it. We were often on the offensive, attacking the other and doing our best to win each and every fight. Our goal was rarely oneness and in battle we were anything but loving.
Read these words from Ephesians 5:22-28:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."
Genesis 2:24 ends with the words, "and they will become one flesh." When I read the end of Ephesians 5:28 my footnote took me to Genesis 2 saying that for the man to love his wife is to love one who has become part of his flesh.
I could also go to I Corinthians 13 to get the Biblical definition for love: love is patient, love is kind, it keeps no record of wrongs and the like. I love these passages because God gave them to us as the best way to live. He has a full book full of the best way to live - including in marriage.
Until Christ become the most important thing in my life, I certainly wasn't loving my wife as Christ loved the church. Probably don't now, but I want to. I certainly didn't give myself up for her. I was far too selfish for that. May still be some times, but I don't want to be.
As God began to put our lives back together and continues in his restorative work in our lives, I love the idea of playing best ball. I'm no scratch husband (if you can hang with the scratch golfing metaphor here), but I want to be! In order to do that, I need to keep the ball in play and not hit it out of bounds. Finding myself in the rough and behind a tree isn't overly productive, either. I must not care about winning, about being right and being selfish can no longer be an option - that is the rough personified.
The more Jesus Christ matters to each partner in a marriage - the more we stand on earth and desire to grow closer to Him who is seated on the throne high and lifted up, the closer we will grow to one another.
When "my" score doesn't count and "ours" does, this is marriage as God intended it. Thank you, Phillip, for this incredible visual. Thank you, Jesus, for taking his words and piercing my heart in this manner!