Nineteen years of marriage has taught me many things about love, relationships, myself, commitment, God, and communication, to name a few. Today my eyes were opened to another aspect that I had rarely considered. I was journaling out of John 15:4 (CJB)
Stay united with me, as I will with you — for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from me.
I am sure it was the version, because I am used to reading “Abide in Me.” “Stay united” spoke differently to me. If I want the fruit of the Spirit in my life, then the most important thing I can do is to abide with Christ. I will make time for Him daily; get into the Word, spend time in conversation with Him, mediate on the things of God. I have to choose to stay connected to Him.
It is too easy, easier than it should be after so many year in my Christian walk, for me to set God aside and let other things take His place in my life. It is easier for me to come home and just veg out in front of the television than it is for me to take time and press in to the things of God. Christ has done His part. He is available to me. His Spirit lives within me. Yet too often, I live so far from Him.
Living with Him, but so far from Him, immediately made me think of times in my marriage. I am united in matrimony to my husband. Over the years, there have been times where our schedules didn’t match, our interests didn’t align, or we just didn’t take time to really work on the relationship aspect of our marriage. Commitment was there, we stayed united; yet, we were basically living separate lives under the same roof for one reason or another.
During times when we seemed to be going in opposite directions, more than we were traveling together, I found myself often complaining to my husband and God about how much I wanted my husband’s attention, affection, and time. I wanted more than just his physical presence in our home. I thought about my heart’s cry for my marriage during those times (and even when we are not experiencing that lack of unity). It was that we would be together in true unity. I don’t want us attached at the hip or unable to have separate interests; I just want quality time with my husband doing things that we are both engaged in and enjoying together. I want us to share life, to do life together consistently.
This made me consider how God must feel when He is so physically available , but I am just doing my own thing. He longs for relationship with His people. Yet too often, I am not staying connected for more than a casual availability. I have time for Him as an acquaintance, but not as Lord. I am not longing to spend more time with Him, as God is longing for me to be with Him. I am not making God a priority as He did for me, sending Jesus to pay the price for my sins so I could be reconciled to Him. I am not drawing in for deeper relationship but giving Him the leftovers of my time.
That is not unity with Him. I do not like it in my marriage when I feel that way, I don’t want that from my husband. God doesn’t want to just have that level of relationship with me. God wants me to spend time connecting with Him. He wants time talking and listening. He wants me to engage with Him throughout the day, not just for a short quiet-time and mealtime prayers each day. He wants to be my priority consistently.
I am not trying to be presumptuous about what God wants, but marriage is our opportunity on earth to learn how as the Bride of Christ things will be in heaven. Yes, it has been polluted by the world’s constructs. Yet, I can believe that if I want something more in my earthly marriage, that God’s perfect bride would be so much more. His desire is not a fleeting relationship but an abiding unity.