I have been married to my wonderful wife for over 11 years, and our marriage has gotten stronger over the years. We have our ups and downs and our arguments and tough times, but our relationship is definitely stronger and I am more in love with her than when we met 12 years ago. I believe that there are several keys to our success.
1. We make time to be together.
2. We talk to each other throughout the day, even calling during lunch breaks at work.
3. We tell each other "I love you" numerous times each day.
4. We continually strive to understand each other better, learning what it takes to make the other person happy and learning each other's moods and preferences.
5. We seek out ways to be together without other people or distractions around us so we can focus on each other completely.
6. We seek to do things that the other person enjoys, as well as things we enjoy together.
7. As much as we can, each of us puts the other's needs ahead of our own.
8. We apologize and ask forgiveness when we have done something wrong.
9. We remember the vows we made when we were married and actively seek to honor them (I made the "mistake" of vowing to spoil her...so far I think I've done pretty good).
10. We enjoy each other's presence, even if we're not actively talking.
Doing these things has helped us weather the problems and have helped us have a successful marriage. Notice that most of these things are active tasks. They happen because we make them happen and not by themselves or without effort. We actively work at our relationship in numerous ways every day.
Did you know that being a Christian is not a religion, but a relationship? Sure, you've probably heard that before, but have you really thought about the implications of this idea? If being with God is like being in any relationship, why not treat it like one? Let's re-visit the above list, but think of it in terms of God.
1. Make time to be with God.
2. Talk to God throughout the day, at lunch and other times.
3. Tell God "I love you" numerous times during your day.
4. Strive to understand God better, learning what He wants and likes.
5. Seek out ways to be with God without other distractions around you.
6. Seek out things that God enjoys and find ways to do that with Him.
7. Whenever you're given a choice, put God's needs above your own.
8. Apologize and ask forgiveness when you have done something wrong.
9. Remember the promises you made to God when you first became a Christian and actively seek to honor them.
10. Enjoy God's presence, even when you're not talking.
I've been feeling very convicted about all of this, and realizing that I don't put enough effort into my relationship with God. My relationship with Him should be the most important thing in my life, but I spend far more time on Facebook and the internet than I do praying and reading my Bible. How can I expect to know God's will and hear His voice when I spend my time in other ways?
Okay, let's everyone be very self-critical for a moment. Be very honest about how much time and effort you put into your relationship with God. Let's be serious for a moment, and brutally truthful. Got that in mind? Now take that time and effort and imagine that you put that amount towards your spouse, significant other, or best friend. How many of us would loose friends or end up single if we treated our human relationships like we do God? What would happen if we spent 10-15 minutes per day with our spouse and the rest of the day ignoring them for other pursuits?
Why do we expect our relationship with God to be any different?
As I said, I'm feeling very convicted about my own failings in this area. So I'm putting this out there in the public realm to be held accountable. First, I will ask His forgiveness for my failure. I will actively work at my relationship with God and Christ as much as I do with any mortal relationships. I will read my Bible every day. I will pray and otherwise be with God throughout the day. I will seek to learn about Him and find things that He enjoys. I will put His needs above my own. I will tell Him that I love Him. And I will ask any of my Christian friends to lovingly keep me accountable.
I hope that any of you will do the same. Let's see how it transforms us.