Most people have asked the question “Why do I exist?”. But very few have asked themselves “Why does my marriage exist?”
A while back I posed the question to a few couples and for some it was the first time they’d ever thought about their marriage having a purpose.
When we think about marriage, we think companionship, raising kids, building careers. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, I think Ecclesiastes 4: 9 alludes to something greater when it says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor”
I believe the reason we are married is because God thought we would have greater impact in the Kingdom as team of two.
Now you can be quite formidable as a single person. In fact some of the most sold-out, on-fire, storming-the-gates-of-hell-kind-of-people are single.
And I believe that’s why God takes that singular power (or potential) and multiplies it in a marriage union. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen.
But we have a problem as couples..
We get married and the whole being-married thing begins to consume all our energy and focus. We get wrapped up with “us” – our lifestyle, our problems and squabbles, our future, our money, our careers, our family, our house, our vacations..us us us.
We rarely pause to ask “Wait a minute..did God have a specific thing in mind when He hooked us up?”
Before we move on, let me make it clear – I am not on a pedestal preaching at you! In fact the reason I am writing this is because I am fighting “the settle”. I am in a season of asking God to discomfort me and show me what to do.
The Bible gives us a glimpse on what it means to be called to God’s purpose.
Jeremiah 1:1 – 7 says
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:1 – 7 (emphasis added)
There’s so much we can glean from these verses but let’s focus on this thought – Jeremiah was known by God and appointed for a specific task before He was born.
I find that very comforting. If we have no idea why our marriage exists, we can ask the One who creates, appoints and calls!
When God called Jeremiah, the young priest responded the same way many of us would; he told God his limitations. As if God didn’t already know.
Maybe you are newlywed or even an oldie in marriage, and God has been knocking on your doors, calling you to a deeper, more surrendered life.
And you have answered “Alas, Lord, we are too young (or too old). We have issues, how can we be of use to you? We are too busy, too tired, too imperfect, too poor, too fearful, too hurt..”
Verse 7 and 8 records God’s response to Jeremiah, and in effect you and me.
“Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ (insert your reason) You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” (additions mine)
I find it comforting that God already knows how we are. He knew Jeremiah was young or not so great at speaking. He also understood Jeremiah would use that to disqualify himself and so He comforted him. “Do not be afraid..I am with you and will rescue you,”
Have you realized that God rarely calls us to tasks that are easily attainable through human means? Because if we can do it by ourselves, we don’t need Him at all!
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”
We can’t build His kingdom using earthly means, qualifications and abilities. We need Him to step in and equip us for His work.
When God stirs your heart towards His dream, you always have to make a choice between your flesh (reasoning, ability, qualifications e.t.c ) and God’s call.
My husband and I have had to choose between God and our seeming inability.
We are passionate about equipping people towards Godly success in life, relationships and dreams. That’s the call on our lives. That’s what I do on this blog – stirring your marriage towards success in Christ.
My deepest desire though is to see your marriage thrive so you can focus on what Christ has called you to do on earth.
It’s great to have an amazing marriage, but a great marriage is not all there is! There’s more.
My husband and I discovered we had a similar passion when we first met ten years ago. The discovery played a big role in helping decide whether to take our friendship to the next level. More on that in a few.
Right now, together with a team in Kenya, we are in the middle of planning two events, a marriage conference and community outreach in August.
But past experience is shouting about the difficulties of putting together such events. It’s reminding me of the strain of staying on the same page with my husband (because just cos you dream the same dream does not mean you always see things the same way)
But like Jeremiah, we are choosing God’s truth over earthly facts. Earthly facts remind us of the difficulties of fundraising, the challenge in being part of planning events 8,000 miles away.
But God’s truth reminds us that He is indeed with us. He will help us and do what He promised.
You might be thinking, “You seem to understand what it means to have a purpose-filled marriage. Good for you. But I don’t get it”
Or maybe you do understand purpose and the power of vision. But there’s so much going on in your lives to truly focus.
Can I encourage you? Figuring out your purpose as a couple and walking it out is not a walk in the park. I know that doesn’t sound like much encouragement but I want you to know you are not alone.
When we got married and even though we knew our purpose, we struggled to align our marriage and lives to it.
As newlyweds we had crazy financial difficulties brought on by job loss and bad business decisions. We were also in full transition in every area of our lives and the big changes were sapping all our energy and focus.
And then just as we were beginning to find our footing, we upped and moved to the United States. The battle to stay focused on our vision intensified.
It’s not easy to align a marriage to God’s purpose. If it was, every couple would be living purpose-filled lives.
Let’s track back and look at the “why”.
Why a purpose-filled marriage?
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 says
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (emphasis mine)
So # 1 reason to align yourself with God’s purpose is because you are Christ’s ambassador, called into the ministry of reconciling the world to Himself.
Acts 1:8 also says
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Reason # 2. You are His witness and have been commissioned to share the good news with others
That’s why you align your marriage to God’s purpose.
Because you are ambassadors, reconcilers, witnesses to Gods amazing love. Everything about your life, including your marriage should be about these things.
How we walk this out practically is a post for another day. But I want to give you a quick thought.
A purposeful marriage is made up of two purposeful individuals.
Have you figured out your purpose yet? What has God called you to do? That’s where you begin.
Figure out your individual purpose and then harmonize that in marriage. Two dreams becoming one.
Remember that purpose is not something you assign yourself. Purpose proceeds from God. He deposits desires and dreams in our hearts and then stirs us toward achieving them.
Example, you might feel like God has called you to start a business. Or move to another city to start a daycare center. Or live and minister in the inner city
If you were single, that would be easy because all you need is pastoral/mentor counsel, planning and you can make your move.
But now that you are married, both of you must feel called to it. It’s no longer a matter of what you think God’s saying, but about what hubby thinks too.
Make sense? And that’s why I encourage singles to discover and begin to align their lives to purpose before they start searching for the one!
Because you want to marry someone who is going your way. It’s easier to harmonize dreams in marriage if you are looking at the same picture.
(If you’d like to hear more about purpose discovery and harmonizing it in marriage, let me know! My husband and I actually give this talk/teaching.)
But the goal for this post is to stir you towards big faith and big risk in God.
Because God has big dreams for your marriage and He’s inviting you in.
Don’t allow the angst of life to quench your faith. Don’t allow small squabbles – yes they are small in light of God and eternity – to squelch your hopes.
Marriage is supposed increase your impact and effectiveness. You are meant to become more, not less. The dynamic of teamwork is meant to transform you to a powerhouse.
Now I know. Marriage has it’s seasons and responsibilities. I am not suggesting otherwise.
But regardless of what season we are in (little ones, school e.t.c), I believe when we keep the big picture in mind, we achieve greater things. After all, “its not by might or by power but by the Spirit”. If God has called you to it, He will do it through you, no matter what.
Remember Jeremiah’s “reasons”? We all have them. But the thing that makes the difference is keeping our eyes on God, not on what we can do or cannot do.
Maybe you are reading this and are questioning and hurting because once you tried to follow God and it backfired.
You attempted to step out in faith, maybe encourage your husband to live a more purposeful life, only to be slapped on the face with pain, closed doors and attacks.
I love this quote by Carole King;
When I was young I was kind of fearless. I think it takes more courage to do things when you know more.
Phew. Feel that? It’s easy to trust God when your faith has not been tried! It’s easy to hope when its sunny and bright and all your prayers are answered.
But it takes real grit to say “yes Lord” as you tend to old battle scars. It takes real faith to try after you’ve failed.
This is the kind of radical faith God is calling us to. A stubborn pursuit that will not quit.
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God is not asking you to do something He hasn’t done already. He came down from heaven, dwelt among us and died on a cross. He’s already modeled the kind of radical love and abandonment He’s asking of your marriage.
And now hear me. Following God is not misery! Pursuing purpose, while difficult at times, is a joy-filled, deep-dive into Gods heart. No matter what you go through, it’s all worth it in the end.
God has entrusted us with much. And the Bible says that those who have been entrusted with much, much more will be required. If God trusted you with a partner in this life, He will expect that “good return” from you.
This is one of my longer posts. So if you remember anything, here’s what I want you to remember;
- Be intentional about aligning your marriage to God’s purpose.
- It will not happen automatically. Our lives are too busy.
- There will be sacrifices, a separation, a radical edge to your union as you begin to pursue God. It will not be easy, or comfortable, but it will be worth it.
I can’t go into everything in a single blog post. But my husband and I absolutely love to help couples understand and harmonize purpose in marriage. If you’d like to have us share at a meeting or at your church (seminar, retreat, small group) please email me here.
I am praying for you, that God will lead you and equip you for His calling. I am praying that you’ll have clarity and understanding and the courage to choose the God-life over the ordinary and comfortable.
Do you mind praying for us too?
If you would like to stand with us in prayer for our upcoming projects (a marriage conference and community outreach) in Kenya, you can sign up here to be a Prayer Partner. You’ll stay updated with prayer requests, praise reports, some the of the behind the scenes work – things that I don’t share on this blog.
God bless you and yours!
Question – Have you discovered God’s purpose for you? Have you aligned your marriage to that purpose?
The winner for last weeks giveaway of “25 Questions You’re Afraid To Ask About Love, Sex and Intimacy” book is Heather!! Thanks to all who participated! I wish I had more copies to give away. But you can buy a copy here.
Sharing with Wedded Wednesday