Ernest Shackleton stood on the ice with the rest of his crew, watching his beloved ship as she was slowly crushed by the shifting ice. The cracks and groans of the wooden ship, their home for the past fifteen months, were heart-rending. Within minutes, the ship was crushed by the ice and disappeared, leaving the men standing on the coldest surface known to man in the middle of nowhere without any hope of rescue. They would have to find their own way back, surmounting incredible obstacles – unspeakable cold, lack of food, and a myriad of dangers as they went.
This month, we’re talking a lot about Stewarding Our Marriages. Today we’re going to tackle Obstacles to an Excellent Marriage. All of us come into marriage with obstacles, either of our own making, or obstacles that are put there by the Devil himself. Let’s take a few minutes to clear out some of the obstacles in our lives that may be preventing us from having marriages that are all that the Lord wants them to be.
Selfishness – “He should be taking care of me!” We often tend to think selfishly, wanting folks to cater to our wants and desires. Taking that attitude into marriage is can be quite a large obstacle.
a. Solution: We need to be careful to examine our hearts and ask the Lord if there is selfishness rooted in our heart that He needs to remove. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes” Song of Solomon 2:15.
2. Laziness – (an offshoot of selfishness) “I just don’t feel like putting any effort into it.”
a. Solution: Realize that, without effort, your marriage will disintegrate. “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through” Ecclesiastes 10:18.
3. Fear – “I’m afraid I’m going to run out of _________” Fear is a very big and real foe. We can fill in that blank with one, or several of any number of things. We may think we will run out of love, or that we will not have enough energy. “I won’t have anything left for myself!” we think.
a. Solution: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18
b. Always remember the widow’s pot of oil which kept on going as she was pouring it. Only when there was nothing left to do, did the oil stop.
c. Remember that it is God who works through us, and He never runs dry! “For we are labourers together with God:” 1 Corinthians 3:9
4. Wrong thinking – Many times we are beset with incorrect thinking. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9. Here are some incorrect thought patterns we ladies often have:
a. Making the assumption that I don’t have to really put effort into my marriage. “I’m the exception; others may have rough spots, but we’ll be fine.” I think we all know how dangerous assumptions can be.
I read a story about a big news photographer who needed to photograph some fires from the air. He showed up at the airport, saw a plane warming up, hurriedly jumped aboard and told the pilot, “Let’s get going!” Within minutes, the plane was airborne. The photographer told the pilot, “Ok, I need you to fly low over those fires over there so I can get some good pictures.”
“Why?” asked the pilot.
“Because I’m a photographer for the big news agency, and I need to get pictures of the fires!”
The pilot was silent for minute, and then asked, “You mean, you’re not my flight instructor??”
Never assume. It’s dangerous.
b. Wanting fairness. “He doesn’t put much effort into it, so why should I?”
c. Roadblocks of the mind. “I can’t!”
i. Don’t get “Can’t, Sir!” (cancer!)
ii. You are capable of more than you think (see Philippians 4:13).
d. Giving up. “I just don’t care anymore. I give up.” This is one of the saddest of all, and one I have heard time and again from disheartened wives. We need not ever give up. There is always hope; as long as there is breath, there is hope.
i. Visiting a church last year, the girls were spinning on the merry-go-round. On and on they spun, and more and more people joined them until it was loaded with laughing spinning young people. One of the church girls said, “That’s it, I’m tired. I’m getting off.”
Sharon smiled and told her, “But remember, ‘girls never quit!’”
“Oh, that’s right!” she said. “Thank you for reminding me of that, Sharon!” and she got on and went awhile longer.
It’s a saying amongst the girls in our house, “Never give up! Girls aren’t quitters!”
ii. Remember, that’s one of Satan’s biggest ploy: If he can’t sideline you with sin, he will try to distract you. If he can’t distract you, he will try to discourage you.
iii. Never confuse tiredness and sickness with defeat. If you’re tired or ill, get some rest, get some food, spend time in the Psalms . . . but never, never give up!
The bitter cold morning which dawned on Shackleton’s crew gave no hint of the incredible events that were about to take place. The men were doing their usual polar routines when they were shocked by a sight almost unbelievable: a ship in the distance! Somehow, against all odds, and against incredible hardships, Shackleton had not only gotten to civilization, but had come back through the relentless icy seas for his men! Within minutes, the men were scrambling from their tents, some hastily lighting a greasy fire, while others stood on the shore, madly waving and yelling.
The saga of Shackleton’s voyage, shipwreck, and survival had a wonderfully happy ending because he hurtled every obstacle that stood in his path. The complications were tremendous, but he never gave in, gave out, or gave up. Let’s let Shackleton’s determination speak to us about our marriages, and remove, go around, or hurtle any obstacles we may have in our path to an excellent marriage!