Relationships - Part Two

Just Married

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‘…Do not awaken love before its time…’

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] never had a burn to enter into a relationship, even through the supposed confusion of teenage years. I was never one to pursue girls, or to think about ‘what could be’ every time that I met someone, as most of my friends did. I could never understand everyone’s urgency. I did not used to worry about being left alone. It was as if I had an assurance in my heart, even long before I knew what it was, that I was not meant to undertake the search for a wife. Married now for 3 weeks and together for 3 years, I can honestly say that I never worried about finding someone.

One day I heard someone say that the best way to go is to simply keep running in your lane. Occasionally you look to your left and to your right and you see who is running with you, but you must not stop or get distracted, but you look to the purpose, and you keep running in your lane. Time will show, the next time you look to the lanes beside you, who keeps running with you. I realised that my responsibility was not to look for somebody, but to pursue the realisation of the purpose that God had spoken to me. I was to trust Him that as I committed to preparing His bride, the church, then he would prepare mine. After running for some time alongside the most committed, beautiful, kindest and most honourable person I know, one day I knew that I had the green light to ask.

I have seen the goodness and the grace of God revealed in my life in ways that far exceed any expectation I could have ever had, and I have been spared heartache. I have heard it said that you can understand the love of the Father considerably more when you have children of your own. I am without doubt that this is true. In the same way, now married, I also understand a little bit more the extraordinary love that caused Him to lay down His life, requiring nothing in return, for us, His church, His bride.

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Relationships - Part Two

September Story

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap] would say I didn’t have my first real friendship until I was late in my teens and even then, the ones I had took a bit of work, but those that took work have stood the test of time. They were the ones where I knew, not just their likes and wants, but their hearts.

The change happened soon after I became a Christian. I believe something happens in the soul that when you give your life to God, he gives you his Spirit and he begins remaking you. He starts to root around exposing the good and bad alike. These revelations about your new self can be overwhelming, so I do not think it strange that the Bible tells us to, “Carry each other’s burdens, (Gal 6:2)”, “encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thess 5:11),” and also, “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other (James 5:16)”

Since I began to approach friendships with this idea, I found them to be deeper and stronger. It seems a lot of work to carry others’ burdens. I know we all have a sense of responsibility to bear our own trials, but that’s not how God made us. He made us for community and for friendship! Our burdens can be physical, emotional or mental and they can all be shared. Now, we shouldn’t BE a burden, but that’s hard to do when you are helping lift other’s burdens and acting humbly.

Say the good things! Sometimes it’s just as difficult to give someone a legitimate compliment or encouragement! I have become very impressed with people and the more I’ve learned to encourage and compliment then, the more they continue to outperform! I try to be deliberate as well by writing a letter or taking them aside just to tell them how great they are and what I believe God sees in them. God loves us so it’s not wrong to tell others the good we see in their lives!

Lastly, it’s a big ask, I know, but practise confessing your sins to one another. It doesn’t have to be to an entire group, but the Lord is good to provide one or two mates who are also following the Lord, to whom you can lay it out. It’s a very counterintuitive idea to put your weakness out in open air, but that is what helped me the most in my walk. There’s an overwhelming relief in knowing you can lay your sin and pain, not just in front of God, but also another human, and more, that they still love and respect you. And not only that, you now have an ally and compatriot with whom you can seek holiness.

A friendship of encouragement, correction and confession is life-giving and fulfilling. Because God is constantly doing work in our lives, it’s good to have people about you letting you know where and how they see God working. Don’t afraid to get your hands dirty. We are all the Church and we are all building in the same kingdom.

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Relationships - Part Two

Recently Engaged

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wo weeks ago I drove the love of my life over 200 miles to her favourite beach. We arrived early in the morning and left late in the evening. As we were preparing to leave, we paused to enjoy the sunset. For a few magical moments the light erupted from the sun, bounced along the waves, glistened across the sand and settled on my beautiful girlfriend — who I then asked to be my wife!

Driving back, as we excitedly reflected on the events of the day and the past few years, I became keenly aware of God’s presence throughout our relationship. I remembered how right at the start we offered ourselves and our relationship fully to God — inspired by Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, we were prepared to leave everything, including each other to follow God’s plan. Maybe that sounds foolish, but we recognised that there was no better way to give, cultivate or express love than to ask the Giver and Creator of Love to be involved!

At this stage, years down the line from those early moments, as God has brought us together I realised that he wished to express his love through the two of us. This was such a precious revelation. It means that the intimacy, the relational and outward curve, the deep passion and joy, the security and comfort, the abundant and overflowing nature of the love which the Trinity share together (best displayed in Jesus’ love towards us) was to be mirrored by us in a marriage relationship — the most intimate of human relationships.

It just struck me on that drive home with my favourite person, what a crazy, crazy thought it is that God turns messed-up humans into masterpieces who share in his very own love — and more than that, allows us to create and enjoy for ourselves a love which creatively mirrors, imitates and involves His own love — which is his essential nature and character.

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