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Sunday, June 23, 2013

If you didn't yet watch the video from my last post, do it now. Really, you'll be glad you did.  Here's the link: True Love Video

This video touches me especially deeply, because my wife and I cared for my mom for seven years in our home as she relentlessly declined into the grip of Alzheimer's Disease.  We eventually sat by her side in a nursing facility as she slipped into the arms of Jesus in 2008, free at last from the dreadful disease that robbed her of her speech, her dignity, her kind and gentle demeanor, and most of all the family whom she loved so dearly.

My wife and I know first hand the price the devoted husband in the video pays on a daily basis.

I recognize this love - this real, selfless and sacrificial love. I watched as my wife served my mom in many of these same ways, with the same kind of amazing love, a love that can only come from God. It was typically my wife who bore the brunt of my mom's delusional accusations and bizarre behavior, yet she often laid aside her hurt and frustration, at times not even telling me of the many hard things that happened while I was at work.

My wife will tell you she was no saint - that she often struggled with the invasion of her home by another (less than stable) woman. Yet she knew we had been called by the Lord to care for my mom. I watched my wife's willing obedience to that calling, her sacrifice of love, over years and years.

My dear wife genuinely loved my mother, even when she was really no longer the same person she had been. In truth, I know that my wife's willingness to obey the Lord's calling was also out of the deep love she has for me.  Ultimately, though, it was her love for Jesus and the love of Jesus that allowed her to follow his voice in the journey with my mom.

You Carry the Love of Christ

Why do I tell you all this?

Throughout this True Love series, I've been telling you  about how you should love your spouse like Jesus loves His bride. If you are like me, you probably find yourself reacting with both amazement and impossibility to the love of Christ. There's a definite, "that's fantastic!" followed shortly by "I could never love like that." 

I've come to discover that loving my wife in the same way Jesus loves me is completely impossible to do in my own human strength. Fortunately, that's not what God asks of me. Because the living Christ dwells within us, the Holy Spirit empowers us to love way beyond our own abilities.

Both for the husband in the video, caring for his wife, and for my wife, as she cared or my mom, the source of their love was clearly God.

He is Love, after all. It's who He is. And we have that love in us because He is in us.

It can only be supernatural love that causes a husband to care for his wife way beyond simply meeting her physical needs - doing what she cannot do for herself. I love the image above, a frame taken from the video. Not only does this man have a custom bike made that allows them to continue to bike together, as they have all their marriage long, but he fastens a crown to her helmet. Look closely and you'll see it.

It's a statement to her - and a reminder to him - that she is still, and will always be, his "Princess."

Do you sometimes smack up against the hard reality that loving like Christ is an impossible task? Ask God to awaken your heart to the reality that this very love lies within you, and ask Him to help you live in that reality.



If you missed some of my True Love series, I've included the links below. You'll recognize many of these love characteristics from video:
  1. True Love Puts Relationship Ahead of Rules 
  2. True Love Pursues Relentlessly 
  3. True Love Doesn't Expect Something in Return 
  4. True Love Serves 
  5. True Love Redeems

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I started off my True Love series with a challenge, in which I asked the question:

"What is Love?"

I have five posts so far in my "True Love" series, but honestly, the video below does more to show what true love is than a hundred and five posts.

Please take three minutes to watch this video and find out what true love looks like in real life.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Redemption, when rooted in love, brings about deep intimacy.

I’m picking up again on my “True Love” series, looking at some of the many marvelous ways Jesus displays love to us and seeing what we can learn for our marriages by His example.

If you are a Christ-follower reading this, then you have experienced Jesus' redemption for yourself:
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…
Hosea 13:14 (NKJV)
and
[Jesus] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people...
Titus 2:14 (NKJV)
What was the reason for God to send Jesus to redeem us? Love. He did it for love. He did it so He could have intimacy with us forever. Yes, Jesus died to take care of our sin and shame once and for all, but His goal was intimacy.

Redemption born of love brings intimacy.

Beyond Christian circles the concept of redemption doesn't get much play in our society. So let me bring in a few choice selections from dictionary.com:
  1. to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.
  2. to make up for; make amends for; offset (some fault, shortcoming, etc.): His bravery redeemed his youthful idleness.
  3. to obtain the release or restoration of , as from captivity, by paying a ransom.
Most of the modern uses of "redeem," and many of the dictionary definitions I didn't include here, have to do with financial transactions. But the redemption I'm writing about today is actually a true love expression. God is by nature a lover and a redeemer. He wants to redeem your marriage.

Redemption in Your Marriage

Where do you need a little redemption in your marriage?
  • Have you lost something that you need to recover: your sex life, trust, faith, emotional closeness?
  • What circumstances do you need turned around: financial hardship, wayward child, infidelity, in-laws?
  • Where do you need a divine exchange: healing for pain, prosperity for poverty, wholeness for brokenness?
  • What bondage are you in that you need freedom from: food addictions? alcohol? porn? spending?
God is more than able and more than willing to take our messes and redeem them into a work of beauty. Do you believe it?
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28
Not some things. Not most things. All things. This is not just a trite saying. It is powerful truth. Believe it, and look to God in faith for the redemption he promises - for the redemption that was accomplish already for us by Jesus.

Your Love Can Redeem Too

Yes, God is a redeemer, and I love that about Him. But guess what! You can also be a redeemer in your marriage. You too have the power to make something good from something not so good.

How might you redeem things in your marriage?
  1. Ever hear of make-up sex? That's redemptive love in action!
  2. Is there a part of you that you've been withholding from your husband or wife because you don't feel you are getting what you want from him or her? You can redeem your pattern of withholding by freely giving whatever it was, without the expectation of getting something in return.
  3. Forgiveness is a form of redemption. Are there past hurts that you say you've forgiven, but that you secretly hold onto? Do you keep them as a  weapon to use during future disagreements? Let them go fully and forget them completely.
  4. If you find yourself on the other end of stick, being the one with the hurtful behavior, redeem yourself by owning up to your mistakes. Take  personal responsibility and ask for forgiveness. Let go of defensiveness and excuse making. Seek a change of heart.
  5. Are there areas where your spouse is falling short of your expectations?  You can redeem their shortcomings by releasing them from your expectations and responding to him or her as if they are already fully meeting your needs and desires. Look for, emphasize and celebrate the good you see in your spouse.
  6. Where have you allowed fear or shame to get a foothold, keeping you from the kind of intimacy you desire in your marriage? Redeem the time you have lost to the forces to fear and shame. Ask God to help you break free of these strongholds, to push past them and the leave them permanently behind you for the sake of intimacy.
The Way of Redemption

I love the story of redemption in the book of Hosea. At God's direction, Hosea marries a prostitute. Eventually she seeks out the arms of other men, but these men ultimately reject her. Incredibly, instead of abandoning Gomer, Hosea takes her back again.  His love is unrelenting, even in the face of her disgraceful and hurtful behavior. It's a picture of the relentless way God loves us, even in our wandering ways. Baker's Theological Dictionary sums it up this way:
The love of God for his people is more graphically portrayed by Hosea than any other Old Testament prophet. Refusing to give up on Israel, God continued to seek their return even in their apostate condition.
In the same way, Jesus gave his life to redeem ours while we were a total mess. He told us that there is no greater love than to give your life for another. Give your life for and to your spouse - give yourself completely, holding nothing back. There is no greater love than this.

And don't forget, the true purpose of redemption is intimacy!

Do you have a story of where God has redeemed something in your marriage? Has he taken a mess and turned it around into something good? Have you seen redemption by your spouse at work in your marriage? Share your stories of redemption in the comments.




Links To More on True Love:

photo credit: nyul / 123rf.com

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