by Byron Paulus
My wife and I just returned from being gone for two weeks on ministry assignment. However, we were able to squeeze in some time to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. That means, together, we have 86 years of marriage experience. Isn’t that enough time to figure out how to stay married?
The longer we are married the more convinced we have become that there is no hope of a joyous, fulfilling, and happy life apart from “divorce.”
So what kind of divorce am I talking about? A DIVORCE FROM MYSELF!
Falling in Love Requires Falling Out of Love
Okay, no one really falls in love. We choose to love. I like what Tom Mullen said, “…they blossom when we love the one we marry.” We could also say, they wilt when we do not love the one we married. And they wilt when I love myself more than the one I married.
So how do we restore the love that restores the blossom? How do we get excited about how flowery and fragrant our marriages can look and smell?
We go back to page one in the “manual” on marriage. At creation…when God put passion in the heart of Adam for Eve.
Falling Out of Love Requires Falling in Love
This heading seems totally contradictory to the previous heading. Why is it not contradictory? Because we are talking about two different individuals. Marriages can be revived. But the fastest and most powerful way to revive them is for each to fall in love with someone other than your spouse. Namely, fall back in love with JESUS.
Duncan Campbell defined revival as “falling in love with Jesus all over again.” When I fall in love with Jesus, I immediately have capacity to fall out of love with myself. As we have all experienced, there is this amazing provision of God’s Word, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that enables extraordinary results…extraordinary love.
It is what the Spirit said to the believers living in Ephesus when He exclaimed, “Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first” (Rev. 2:5, NLT).
Turning back to God precedes turning back to another. As the Spirit told those believers, “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first.” The sequence obviously parallels the Greatest Commandment’s sequence. Loving Jesus enables loving others.
HOW DO I FALL OUT OF LOVE WITH MYSELF?
I do not want to oversimplify, but by the time I finish loving Jesus and loving others, I am too tired, too focused elsewhere, or too joyous and fulfilled to desire anything else, including myself.
My prayer, for all of us, is that our love for Jesus will flourish, and then we will not only be madly in love with Him, but also in love with our spouse and experiencing the joy and fulfillment from abiding in His ways, that it will cause us to divorce ourselves from ourselves…happily!