Going for the Gold in Marriage?

The reason I was going through the driest, darkest and most discouraging time(s) in my marriage was because I was not doing something very crucial.

Although I knew about this crucial focus, and in many ways completely believed that it was important and true, I did not let it consistently guide my thoughts, feelings and especially relational efforts in marriage.  🙁

Go for the Gold

Today I’m continuing my “Persevere in the Lord” series that is tailored specifically for those who feel like giving up or at least want to give up more times than not. So  . . .

What is this crucial focus in marriage and life?

It’s that Olympic gold medal for every Christ-follower where we keep our eyes on the right and true prize and not on our spouse to provide what only the “Lover of our soul” can provide.

Consider the apostle Paul’s words . . .
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. ~1 Cor. 9:24-27

This passage reminds us that there is a prize that far surpasses any satisfaction and enjoyment in marriage. Although enjoyment and connection in marriage (and/or life) is important, if you are a believer, it cannot be our priority over this one important focus or we will ironically find those blessings in marriage eluding us.

[Tweet “There is a prize that far surpasses enjoyment in marriage! #goforthegold”]

When I was young, my dad would occasionally play catch with me and one of the first things he taught me to do was to “keep my eye on the ball.” Whenever I followed that one important tip, it amazed me how much better I could catch that fast-moving missile hurtling toward me! #beforepokemongodays 😉

If we, as believers, don’t keep our eye on the right prize in life and marriage—that being our relationship with Christ and the “working-out” of our faith—we will end up either with our marriages sailing past our glove or getting hit between the eyes by that rocketing orb of discouragement and divorce.

The apostle Paul’s words included “training” ourselves to focus on the Lord—much like an Olympic athlete would train.

[Tweet “How do we train ourselves to focus on the Lord in the middle of a messy marriage?”]

Allow God to be our “Trainer” by  . . .

  1. Praying daily. (Need clarity on prayer or ideas for improving your prayerlife? Click here).
  2. Reading God’s word daily or regularly. (My WORTHY Facebook Bible study of 1 Samuel is a great resource to get you going!)
  3. Applying the truths found in God’s word to our lives and marriages.
  4. When discouraged or distracted, recommitting ourselves to the hard work of training.*

But that’s just the beginning of “strength training” and cannot be done just for the sake of strength alone! #legalismtrap

The apostle uses some very harsh and confusing language when he said in verse 27, “strike a blow to my body.” He wasn’t talking about abusing himself or self-flagellation for the sake of punishing himself for sinning. Nope, not even close . . .

He was talking about not letting his body or emotions be his master, but rather making his God his Master!

[Tweet “That was the worst way I failed—not focusing on “the prize” when I was discouraged in marriage.”]

Next week, I’ll be wrapping up this series on persevering with a post on how to learn to really love your mate. This fine art is not as simple and/or cut and dry as it might seem, so you won’t want to miss it!

 

What part of focusing on the prize and “training” yourself is hardest and why?

 

How are you doing on this crucial focus in life and marriage? How can I pray for you?

 

*If you’ve pulled away from God’s word for any length of time, then you’re seriously limiting your ability to recognize the need for this “crucial focus.” God uses His word, prayer and the messages of godly people in our lives to speak to us. To pull away from God’s word means you are running the risk of remaining unaware or resistant to this need. When that occurs you will almost certainly grow more discouraged in your life and marriage. #sadtruth


Linking up with these fine blogs –  Making Your Home Sing, Moments of Hope, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Word of God Speak, Spiritual Sundays, Carolina @ Cisneros Cafe, Sitting Among Friends, Family, Friendship and Faith, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Beth you are SOOO right!

    Trying to build a marriage with keeping Christ as Number One is like trying to lift oneself by one’s own hair, or maybe trying to have a team of hoses push a wagon.

    You’ve going to end up with a sore scalp, or some confused and irritable equines.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/08/your-dying-spouse-190-mustard-seed-of.html

    • Thanks, Andrew. I love your analogy. You always seem to come up with something so colorful and appropriate that pushes the truths I’m trying to share a bit further! Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, my friend! I appreciate it!

  • Keeping our eyes on Jesus instead of our spouse is such a huge thing. It would prevent many disillusionments that people have with marriage. We all end up doing it though from time to time, but the quicker we adjust our focus back on the Lord, the better it is for everybody, including our spouses. 😉 Because who can compare to Jesus? Thanks for this encouraging word, Beth.

    • I couldn’t agree more with Lisa…
      You know I was praying about my home today and I know the one who has got it control is Jesus…all I need do is to follow.
      Yes we miss the mark when we allow other people be our yardstick.
      God bless you Beth

      • Yes, great way to put it, Ifeoma. Keeping our eyes on the Lord keeps us from coming up short for sure!

    • Yes, Lisa, it truly is. So many might wonder what the direct correlation is until they’ve learned to find the true Source of love for their mate is only in the Lord. Thanks for stopping in to encourage me and join the conversation!

  • I’m learning to ask God for His insight to my husband’s ways and needs. Only He can get me outside myself to the extent that I can unselfishly view the world from a different angle.

    • So true, Michele. And I’ve learned most of all that immersing myself in the study of God’s word is absolutely critical if I ever hope to love my husband. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me!

  • Frances

    Well now, having a “messy” marriage is an understatement. My husband of 52 years discovered preachers on the internet that he started following in the religion started by Herbert Armstrong, (United Church of God) so for about five months he has been going to a worship service by one of the local pastors..they worship on Sat..not Sun & they follow the OT laws about eating pork, etc..he constantly says all preachers who worship on Sun are telling lies & he tells me I am sinning by refusing to obey him & his church teachings. We need prayer & God to heal his mind & heart. Thanks.

    • I’m so sorry that you’re facing that challenge, Frances, especially since it seems you’ve weathered so many years with your hubby. I’ll certainly pray for you in this and if you need a sounding board, please feel free to email me at messymarriage@gmail.com. As a fellow-pastor’s wife, I’d be honored to be a place of support. Thanks for being so vulnerable here, my friend!

  • If I keep my eyes on my husband, I am only setting us up for failure. But when I keep my eyes on Christ, together we can win! Beth, I always love coming here! I’m sharing this everywhere!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori