Dave McDowell is the Senior Pastor at Community Fellowship Church in West ChicagoIL. Dave and Gloria have been married for over 41 years; have five children and 4.3 grandchildren. 

Dave has a weekly blog which you can follow at www.davemcdowell.wordpress.com  and has written a book on Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather Solomon Stoddard entitled, Beyond the Half-Way Covenant: Solomon Stoddard and His Understanding of the Lord’s Supper as  a Converting Ordinance (Wipf and Stock Publishers: 2012), available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or direct from the publisher.   

A Few Random Thoughts on Intentional Marriage…
  • Love is one long sweet dream, and marriage is the alarm clock. 
  • A spouse is someone who’ll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn’t have had if you’d stayed single.
  • Will you love me when my hair turns silver? She asked. He replied, Haven’t I loved you through the other six shades?
  • It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.                                                                                                                                   
  • The great revelation of marriage is that we fall in love with a personality, but must live with a character.
  • You never vowed you wouldn’t gain weight, lose your hair, or develop wrinkles; however, you did vow to love your spouse when these things happened to them.
  • What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?

A woman once wrote a letter to a famous spiritual leader asking for advice about marriage. It seems that she wanted to get married, but a friend told her she should stay single; that it would be more “holy” to care for her father and remain celibate. This spiritual leader wrote back and said, “ The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other…It is a perpetual exercise of mortification…From this plant, in spite of the bitter nature of its juice, you may be able to draw and make the honey of a holy life.” (Francis de Sales, 17th century)
Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriageasks, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Some people may bring up the point that Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 7:1 that “it is good for a man not to marry” because the single person has more time for the Lord, whereas the married person has a lot of anxieties because of spouse and children. I agree with that and believe that if you want to serve Jesus without hindrance you should stay single, but if you want to become like Jesus get married. 

Marriage is “the crucible that grinds us and shapes us into the character of Christ. Instead of getting up at 3 am to begin prayer in a monastery, the question becomes who will get up and change the baby?” (Thomas, p. 22)
Marriage demands and produces selflessness which is contrary to our very nature. It holds up a mirror to our lives into which we look and see ourselves as we really are, not as we think we are. The mirror of marriage also helps us to see the exact places in our lives that the Holy Spirit needs to sanctify. This should lead us toward repentance and away from blaming our spouse for the problem. 

In other words, I’m the problem; take me out of the picture and my wife would have a great marriage. 

While our marriage is temporary, our marriage difficulties can help shape and mold in us that which is eternal. “For our light momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17).
This should also remind us that marriage was never meant to satisfy our deepest needs. We are supposed to be each other’s “helpmeet,” but I wonder how much expectation we place upon our spouse to make us complete. Only God can meet my deepest needs and it is unfair to demand of my spouse what she was never meant to provide.

“My soul thirsts for you, O God” (Psalm 42:2). For when God fills me up, then I can serve my marriage and give myself away for the sake of the gospel.

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