(This one is long but it is perhaps the best material yet on the practical applications on Eve)
We come home from work and we just know. We feel it. Something isn’t right. She’s off. I know I should engage but 99% of the time, I completely avoid the situation. I go to bed and lay there and think “I hope she doesn’t want to talk”. Ever been there?
What she needs in this moment is for me to move towards her and engage but I’m afraid she’s going to present something that I just don’t know how to deal with or what I’d have to offer. So… in shame … I disengage. Like Adam, I go passive. I turn to my phone, my emails from work, engage with the “noble” work of helping with the kids, whatever, but anything other than go towards her.
I hide in an addiction to technology like business email or facebook – things I can handle because they don’t respond in real time and they don’t require anything from me.
I move away from the thing I can’t manage (her) to the thing I think I can. I disengage from the need right in front of me. “If I avoid this, maybe it will go away.”
Men, this is our challenge. This is where valor appears. This is where we live “Excurvatus ex se” a life beyond self.
Covenant or Contract? Marriage is a covenant, not a contract. A contract is all about me negotiating terms that benefit me. In its very nature, it is selfish. Real estate deals are contracts. Selling a business is a contract. Both are all about me getting all I can from the deal. A covenant is about me giving myself to you for your well-being. A covenant is a protective covering. It is a promise. Every covenant has a head. The one that’s ultimately responsible for the oversight, management and well-being of the protected. The husband is the “head” in the model of Jesus being the head of the church. It is servanthood. A contract is about my benefit. A covenant is about her benefit. “I want a divorce to start over. You know, God wants me happy.” That’s contract thinking, not covenant thinking. What they are saying there is “ME”. Me to be happy. Me to get what I want. Me to get what I need. Covenant is about what is best for her. We’re talking about the difference between selfishness and servanthood.
“You don’t understand. I’ve got this incredibly difficult wife.” Not as difficult as Jesus’ wife, right?
“But my wife, she’s undependable and unthankful and doesn’t meet my needs.” Oh that’s nothing like Jesus’ wife right? She’s a real piece of work!
The church of Jesus is not always this beautiful, radiant, glorious bride. She is needy, she falls into sin, folly, rebellion, selfishness but Jesus loves His bride, His church, and He pursues without getting exhausted.
We read Ephesians 5 and words like “love” and “washing with the Word of God” and “making her holy” and “nourishing her, cherishing her” and becoming “one with her”. That is covenantal language. Here’s the bottom line men – your wife is your garden. If you don’t like the way the garden looks, you’re the gardener. You can’t just stand back and yell at her, or give demands to her, or pass judgments on her. You are to love her as Christ loved the church. You need to pursue her. Invest in her. Care for her. Cherish her. Nurture her. Protect her. Fight for her. So how are you doing? Adam, where are you? Are you providing for her? Not financial provision though that is part of it but rather emotional provision? Spiritual provision? All this provision so that she may flourish? Nourish so that she may flourish!
So there is this deep, rich, fertile soil that can be marriage. It is the promise. When I took the hand of my girlfriend and asked her to marry me, I invited her into the promise. I looked her father in the eye and confirmed the promise. I stood before God and others and sealed the promise…I will never leave you nor forsake you. And in so doing, I stepped into Shannon’s deepest longing.
John Eldredge says, “The deep cry of every little girl’s heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God… Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me?”
And so I say to you – this is the promise to our wives after 10, 15, 20, 30 years of marriage. After 26 years of marriage, Shannon still needs to hear “I choose you. I will continue to fight for you. I will continue to pursue you. I delight in you. You captivate me. You intoxicate me. You are lovely.” Her need for this is really insatiable. She can’t hear it or feel it enough. It NEVER goes away.
Women are extraordinarily complicated animals. The world comes at our women very hard. They want to be pretty. They want to be skinny. At 45 they want the bodies of a 20 year old. They want their children to be popular and included but they also don’t want them to be popular. When my oldest went off to college, it was very hard on Mom. In the months leading up to our daughter leaving home, my wife was on a huge emotional rollercoaster. It was tough. But here is where she needed me most. She was emotional. She was angry. She was scared to death of the change. She pushed me away one moment and was clingy the next. How easy it would have been to “move away from the thing I fear I cannot manage and instead focus on something I could manage like email.”
In that moment, what she really needed from me is just one simple thing – no matter how “crazy” she might have been through this, she just needed the quiet strength, comfort and security of the promise. She needed to rest under the “oak of righteousness”. She needed to rest in that I will never leave nor forsake you. I’m not going anywhere. This is my place in the battle. This is the hill I will die on. This is my Braveheart or Gladiator moment – Strength & Honor. It is no longer about my winning or losing. She might respond to me – or – she might not. That is really no longer the issue.
Her question is simply, “Will you keep pursuing me?” “Will you keep fighting for me?” And I take it to God and express my frustration, my hurting, my lack of patience and He lovingly says, “I know son, I know. Now go back. Keep pursuing.”
I will leave you with this. Morgan Snyder was relaying a story of a friend. He was actively pursuing his kids. He took on the responsibility of morning carpool so he could engage with them and launch them daily into their world. He helped get them up and get them going in the morning. He was intentional. It was sweet, rich time. Then he took it deeper. He started praying over them, personally every day before they headed to the car. He fought for them. He prayed down the Kingdom of Heaven upon them. He bound up the spirits that would attack. He placed the Cross of Christ between them and the evil one. It was great! One day, his wife was outside talking to another mom and came into the front door as he was praying over his kids and she bowed and listened to the prayers. When it was done, he looked up and she had tears streaming down her cheeks and all she could say was, “What about me? What about me? I need those same prayers from you. I need you fighting for me.”
Eve. There she is. She is yours. She was a child of God long before you made a covenant for her. Adam, where are you?