Well, it’s a new year and with that I have been thinking about my life and relationships as many people do this time of year. I thought about my children and their lives, our family stateside, my dear friends and then I reflected on my husband. I realized that this year we will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. My husband is my best friend, literally, not just as a cliché. We have such a wonderful marriage. The fact that we’ve made it 24 years in today’s world is pretty amazing but it didn’t happen by accident.
I remember sitting in church one night and our pastor was away preaching somewhere else so we had a fill-in preacher in the pulpit. I remember the sermon like it was yesterday. The preacher preached on putting up guardrails in our lives; putting up some protection along the slippery roads of life that would keep us safe in times of trouble. We decided that night that we were going to establish those guardrails and live by them to keep us from veering off the right path as our lives moved through days and years.
We established many guardrails for our family but the most important guardrails we built were those in our marriage. I believe and know that those guardrails have kept us from many an accident. Many times we could have careened off the winding road of life and into a ditch of destruction if it hadn’t been for those guardrails.
The following guardrails (to mention just a few) have protected us from the pitfalls the world sets for today’s marriages and my prayer is that they will help you also. It’s never too late to start.
1. Guardrail of a Daily Walk With the Lord – There is power in a reverent fear of God. When we realize who He is and who we are, we are far more apt to consider the consequences of our actions. The only way to truly know who He is is to get to know him through prayer and reading His Word.
A. Reading His Holy Word is a necessity. How can we ever know what He wants us to know if we don’t read His Love Letter to us? Through his Word we begin to truly know who He is. We learn what He wants for us and how much we mean to Him through a daily walk with the Lord. Take the time necessary to read His Holy Word daily! Those Words are Holy and powerful and able to help in time of distraction or temptation.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
B. Daily meet with Him in prayer. If I were to take a walk with my husband and he walked along and said nothing to me, we would soon have a problem. Communication between two people who love each other is paramount. The Lord loves us and when we refuse to communicate with Him we create a problem. A relationship with no communication soon dies. We also need to make a habit of confessing our sin daily to the Lord. We need to keep that relationship as free from sin as possible. We defiantly don’t want any kinks in our phone line to the Lord.
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Psalms 32:5
Make time daily to communicate with the One who loves you and gave the most for you. It’s amazing how well our relationships function when we love God first.
2. Guardrail of Faithfulness – Long ago you stood scared and swore to vows before God and man; they still count! You vowed your faithfulness to your spouse long ago and today those vows should still ring loud in your ears. Faithfulness is two-fold; both physical and mental.
A. In Your Thought Life – Don't be foolish enough to think that as long as you don't act on your thoughts it's okay.
Matthew 5:28 says, But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Way too many times earth shaking affairs have begun in the quiet of a thought life. As with most big steps we take we rehearse them long before we actually take that step. Affairs are no different. Long before something extramarital takes place we’ve already thought it out in our minds. We need to be careful that we guard our minds in the following areas.
1) Media - Too many times we've lived it out infidelity in the novels we read. A Christian or even non-Christian should never entertain movies or stories of infidelity. When we take it into our hearts through our eyes or ears it stays and waits for an opportunity to work. There is no reason a married woman should ever read books about affairs, infidelity or premarital affairs. If you practice it in your mind you’ll be fit to perform it when the opportunity presents itself.
2) Friendship - Imagining or discussing situations that are none of our business starts our minds on a path they shouldn't go down. Way too often we discuss the details of married couple’s lives under the guise of counseling. Your friend confides in your friend about a sexual problem they’re having and the truth is that what he or she does in private is none of your business. Having thoughts planted in your head that should have never entered your ears is dangerous and leads to vain imaginations. If you have a friend that is a little too free with her private married life, let her know in love that you don’t feel that God would have you “in the know” about this part of their marriage and that you will pray. Then pray!
3) Social Media – It has been said and reported that Facebook is mentioned in at least 1/3 of all modern divorce cases. Our world has become so small and it’s way too easy to connect with old “friends” of the opposite sex. This is extremely dangerous. There is no need for us to carry on a relationship with a man either in real life or virtually. If you’ve been contacted, immediately make it known to your spouse and do whatever is needed to satisfy your spouse. You would want the same from him. A few years ago my Facebook account was closed down for this very reason. An x-boyfriend from 27 years ago suddenly private messaged me. I immediately told my husband and because I value my marriage far above Facebook I chose to close my account. It’s not worth playing with fire.
3. Guardrail with the Opposite Sex – Touch means so much to us humans that we have to be very careful how we use our touch. We need to set up some guardrails in our lives; at church, work and in social settings.
A. At Church – we need to set up some precautions concerning physical touch in the church setting. This is a biggy especially in our churches these days. Far too often we hear of affairs between church members and why not? They see each other several times a week and embrace in a “brotherly” hug several times a week they eat together and make their hearts pleas known to each other.
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. I Corinthians 7:1
Now I’m totally aware that to truly understand some Scripture we need the Old Testament or it’s important to know who the author is speaking to but this Scripture is so plain and to the point it’s impossible to misunderstand. Just as it says, it’s not good for a man to touch a woman. Obviously, God is speaking to us concerning unmarried people and He’s put the cookies on the very bottom shelf to make sure there is not confusing.
It is NOT good! Don’t do it! Steer away from it! It’s not good!
Take a handshake for instance; handshakes shouldn't span a whole 60 seconds. There can be great intimacy in a handshake and you should only know intimacy with your spouse. If you know someone who likes to linger, make it very known by a quick hand retreat that 5 seconds is long enough to say howdy or steer clear of that gentleman.
As plainly as God could, He expressed that the physical contact between unmarried people is not good. Now I know this is gonna rub a lot of folks wrong cause you’re so used to this practice in church but God said it’s not good. I know you love Brother John and he’s like your real brother, but he’s not and you shouldn’t be touching him! The problem here is that sin begins in the mind. We don’t know what someone is thinking, what they’re missing in their own relationships or how they feel when you press your body against theirs. It’s just foolish and as women we should know better. We should be aware that men are easily aroused and it sure doesn’t take much. I know what you’re thinking, “but he’s just an old man, it doesn’t bother him when I hug him.” Sure he’s old but he isn’t dead!! Regardless, God said it’s NOT good and He knows best!
B. On the Job – If you are a woman and you have to work outside the home you need to be careful. We hear all the time about affairs in the work place and it makes sense. You spend 8 or more hours a day working closely with someone. You laugh, eat and talk daily and before long you are in a relationship, maybe not physical but the beginnings of something dangerous. God never intended us ladies to have a relationship with any man other than our husbands. It is way too easy to find solace in the presence of another man when things may not be smooth sailing at home.
If you have a job where you are put into a dangerous situation you would be better to change departments or even find new employment. Your marriage is far more important and if you honor your husband and God in this situation God will honor you.
C. Socially – Our social interactions with couples need to be closely guarded. Way too many movies have been made about spouses of friends getting together. There is far too much familiarity in our friendships between male and female friends. Remember, He belongs to her and he’s your friend through her only! You should never have a relationship with him outside of her. You should never be with him alone. It’s foolish and very dangerous. Oh yea and the old idea that men and women can be close friend without complications is just foolishness and we are fools if we believe that.
Also, and this should be included in all three of the above points. You should never be alone with a man that is not your husband. Not your pastor, your boss or your best friend’s husband. So you need to go somewhere and your friend’s husband is the only one available to take you and his wife won’t be with him, then you don’t need to go! This needs to be a guardrail that you never cross. The Devil is waiting and ready. He’s just waiting for the opportunity to jump in and stir the waters, be sure you don’t give him the opportunity!
4. Guardrail of Intimacy in Marriage – Far too often the physical relations between man and wife is neglected. We have bought into the new age idea that men should just control themselves and they are all sex addicts. The truth is, yes they are. God made them that way. They have a need to be loved physically by the wife of their youth and when that physical love is absent it opens a huge gapping whole in that guardrail. As with any part of marriage, deficits are dangerous. If there is a want or need that isn’t being met you can be guaranteed that it won’t be long before the Devil picks up on that need and sends someone to meet it.
Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
The Bible tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled. God is for it! It is so holy that God used it in the Song of Solomon to express the relationship between Jesus and the church. The relationship between Jesus and the church is the most beautiful relationship ever, in the history of forever. It’s incredibly beautiful and don’t think for one moment that God would use anything less lovely to describe that relationship. God is for physical love and intimacy in marriage. Don’t let your neglect of this very important part of your marriage make it easy for the Devil to get in and begin his work of destruction. Be very careful that you don’t help Ol’ Slew Foot by neglecting your husband’s God placed needs.
We are as Christians clearly succumbing to the world's temptations and we are watching faithful men and women falling daily. Did they love God, absolutely. Did they love their spouses, I believe so. Were they guilty, yes, in many ways but especially in the neglecting of their marriages and the failure to realize they needed guardrails to protect them from the hairpin turns life has thrown in our paths. If you value your marriage you will begin today to guard against the Devil and his devices.
If you are in a situation where your husband may not be so willing to set up those guardrails, then you have no choice but to begin with you. You decided that those vows meant something to you and set up those guardrails in your life and God will honor that.
I'm praying that 2015 will be a year of victory in your relationships but especially in your marriage.