When The Honeymoon Is Over

Whenever my wife and I counsel engaged couples, I keep a look out for idealistic distortion.  It’s a fancy term for couples who see each other through rose colored glasses.  Nothing he/she can do is wrong.  They see their relationship as perfect and any kind of conflict or argument is unthinkable.  This is a big red flag for me because any relationship will inevitably have conflict.  The honeymoon can’t last forever.

This is why I’m uncomfortable when Jesus is communicated as a magic pill to fix all of our problems.  We all know life is messier than that.  Call me a pessimist, but sometimes God calms my storm and other times he invites me out of the boat to walk on the wild. Perhaps the most dangerous place in the whole world is the center of God’s will.

And conflict is inevitable.  The honeymoon can’t last forever.  Faith is not necessary unless it is challenged.

and then he said to his disciples,“Let us go back to Judea.”

 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”(1)

Jesus was returning to Judea and things didn’t go so well the last time they were there.  They all knew this would be the beginning of the end.  The writing was on the walls.  Conflict was inevitable.  The honeymoon was certainly over.

That’s why Thomas’ response is so staggering.(2)

Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”(3)

Thomas was a pessimist at heart.  He assumed the worst and let everyone know it.  For him, the honeymoon was over long ago.  He knew conflict was inevitable and yet boldly followed Jesus anyway.

Now that’s what I call faith.  That’s faith with a little dirt under the nails.  That’s the kind of faith with bags under the eyes.  That’s a steadfast, determined, committed, you-couldn’t-get-rid-of-me-if-you-tried kind of faith.  That’s a faith that’ll pick up a cross and follow.

And that’s the kind of thing that’ll make a relationship last.  But we only get there through conflict.

Has the honeymoon ended between you and God?

Yeah, me too.

Let us remove the rose colored glasses and allow God to be God.  May we discover a relationship with Him that dares to go so much deeper.

In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.(4)

1.  John 11:7-8

2.  I’ve always thought “Doubting” Thomas has gotten a bum wrap.  The above seems like tremendous faith.

3.  John 11:16

4.  John 16:33

 

An Ordinary Request

One of the Bible’s central themes is relationship.  It is littered throughout story after beautiful story of scripture and yet why do we have so much trouble building relationships with others?(1)  Perhaps it is because we don’t know where to start?  We know Jesus asked us to go to the ends of the Earth making disciples but we don’t know our next-door neighbor’s name.  We get that God sent his only son but we still don’t send a dinner invite to our coworker.  We understand God’s arms are open wide and yet we close the garage door behind us.

Where do we begin with our coworkers, neighbors, parents at our kid’s soccer game, or even those far different than us?  In this Facebook era where we relate with hundreds but have authentic relationship with few, where do we start?

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”(2)

An ordinary request.  I suppose it’s not a bad place to start.  The God of the Universe who is divinely self-sufficient asks for a handout.  It is answered with a new relationship that would ultimately bring salvation to this woman and countless others within the town.

And it all started with an ordinary request.

You’d be amazed how asking your neighbor for an egg or a cup of flour could lead to them feeling okay with borrowing your mower.  Next thing you know, your garage door doesn’t stay shut as much because they may need the mower again.  Then your neighbor may just notice those awesome storage shelfs you installed and ask for your help one Saturday afternoon to install some of his own. On a warm summer evening after the last nail has been hammered and you’re enjoying a cold drink, he may ask you about living water.

Or what if you asked the coworker that out performs you for ways to improve?  He graciously offers some help and you make his day by pointing out his work ethic.  Inside jokes start and a fun rivalry begins as you motivate each other to improve.  Then one day when it’s slow, he brings up his broken relationship with his girlfriend and asks for your advice.  The next thing you know, you may just be sharing about your relationship with God and why that’s made a difference with your spouse.

You don’t have to be so self-sufficient.  You never know what can come from an ordinary request.  It’s not a bad place to start.

1.  Seattle (where I live) is particularly terrible at relationships.  We call it the Seattle Freeze and here’s an excellent article for why it’s so hard for people to make friends here.

2.  John 4:7

When People Take Priority

I’m writing this from our new home.  Moving is never easy but I probably shouldn’t complain since we moved a whopping half mile.  We looked at places farther away, but we just couldn’t leave our neighborhood.  We’ve built too many friendships here and have hosted too many block parties.  It’s nice to go to the neighborhood coffee shop and know all of the baristas by name.  We’ve seen friends meet Jesus and have had countless spiritual conversations with others.  God’s doing something that we couldn’t walk away from.  We just had to be here.

Maybe this is what happens when people fill your mind and occupy your prayers.  When you start to really care for those around you, you can’t help yourself.  People take the priority.  At least, this explains some of Jesus’ actions.

So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.  Now he had to go through Samaria.  So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar (1)

Funny thing about this story is Jesus didn’t have to go through Samaria at all.  In fact, it was a bit out of his way and unheard of for a Jewish Rabbi like himself.  The Jews hated the Samaritan and avoided them at all cost.(2)

Yet Jesus had to go.(3)

There was the most unlikely of someone’s he needed to meet.  There was a divine appointment awaiting.  God was doing something he couldn’t just walk away from.

Do we prioritize our decisions around people?  Or are we too busy?  Too important?  Too tired?  Too scared?  Too stuck at church?

May God create in us the kind of heart that just has to go.   May we befriend the most unlikely of someone’s.  May compassion override convenience.  May people take priority.  God may be doing something we just can’t walk away from.

Where do you have to go?

1.  John 4:3-5

2.  When Jesus’ enemies wanted to insult him they called him a Samaritan.  (John 8:48)

3.  If we were brutally honest, the reason we don’t share the gospel with those around us is because we don’t really want to.  We have all the information we need.  What we need… is desire.

 

A Beautiful Order

Organization and order does not come naturally to me.  Historically, the closest I’ve come to order is to have one pile of clothes on the ground that are clean and another pile that is dirty.  (Don’t judge, I’m too busy writing!)  However, last week we bought a new home and it has a really big closet.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed having all of my clothes put away and how enjoyable it is to get ready in the morning with everything neat and orderly.  Seeing all of my shirts folded and stacked was almost beautiful.  I actually look forward to getting dressed and starting my day!

Now I don’t think the universal answer is for all of us to become neat freaks but I do think this points to who God is and how he made us.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (1)

Before their was time, God was interested in bringing order to the world.  He gave creation boundaries and limits.  Then he stood back and admired the beauty of that same creation.  In fact, order is necessary for anything beautiful.  Before a musician records a hit record, they must know cord charts.  Before a painter crafts a masterpiece, they must understand color schemes.  Before a writer types out a blog that will gain record “likes”, they must (hopefully) comprehend grammar.

And this same order is necessary for us.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.(2)

This order becomes quite beautiful when the husband submits to the Lord and willingly lays his life down for his wife.  He thinks of her needs before his own.  He is gentle with her and faithfully loves her.  She feels so cherished and cared for that she willingly submits to her husband because he has won her trust and her love.(3)  They worship God together because He makes all things beautiful.

Laura and I don’t have a perfect marriage but we’ve worked hard on this beautiful order.  I’ve been surprised by how much it refreshes those around us as they catch glimpses of how we love and serve each other.  I’m convinced it points directly to the Creator and how he works.  I’ve seen men step up, sacrifice for their wife, and peace return to the home.  I’ve seen women step down, support their man, and romance rekindle.  I’ve seen couples brought out of chaos and actually look forward to their relationship as hope returns.

Listen, I know this order has been abused, miscommunicated, and misinterpreted by some and turned ugly.  I know some of you have been wounded and trust was broken.  However, God’s order is beautiful and brings peace to our homes.  He won my trust and love the hard way to prove it.  My new closet reminded me of that this morning.

 

1.  Genesis 1:3,4

2.  Ephesians 5:22, 23

3.  Order does not necessarily have to do with ability or value.  For example, my wife is a lot smarter than I am.