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Sunday, August 17, 2014

"I don't have disciplines in my life. I have delights."
- Graham Cooke

Recently I had the awesome opportunity to spend an evening in a living room with Graham Cooke, where he uttered the phrase above. It was one among many truth-packed one-liners he offered, each of which could take me days to fully apprehend.

He went on to explain that in his walk with God, he has moved beyond working to do things for God to earn favor and acceptance. Instead, he is able to simply delight himself in God, doing the same kinds of things he did before as disciplines, but doing them instead with a sense of delight. Such activities as prayer, reading the Word, and worship were no longer done with a sense of duty, but with the joy of giving love back to the One who lavishes His love on us.

As is so often the case, I thought immediately of the marital equivalent to this spiritual principle.

Have To, Want To, Get To

In my recent post From "Have To" to "Want To"  I encourage wives to look at sexual intimacy differently. I concluded with this thought:
Let your love for God and your love for your husband, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform your "have to" into a "want to." Who knows, maybe you might even end up at "get to."
What Graham Cooke described as delight is the attitude of "get to."

You can apply the same idea of "get to" when it comes to a husband meeting his wife's need for emotional connection.

Think about it. When it comes to serving, loving and giving to your spouse in their area of need, how often do you have a "get to" attitude,counting it an honor and privilege? Alternatively, how often do you simply do what you know to be right out of a sense of responsibility or obligation?

Want To Want To

If you find yourself in the place of obligation and duty when it comes to meeting your spouses needs and loving them in the way the want and need to be loved, I want to congratulate you.

Seriously. It may sound like I intend to beat you up with this post, but that is not the case at all. In fact, every marriage will face seasons where there is little joy in giving, where loving your spouse comes down to a daily decision. Those who hang on to their covenant promise "for better, for worse" are to be congratulated. Too many stop trying when they stop feeling it and simply run for the exits.

But I want to encourage you to endeavor to move from "have to" to "want to" by asking God to give you the "want to." God is for your marriage, and He doesn't want you to dwell in the land of obligation in your marriage relationship any more than he wants that in your relationship with Him.

So ask God to help you develop the "want to." Ask Him to fill your heart with His love, which is vastly superior to the love we can come up on our own. Ask Him to remind you of the many attributes that first attracted you to your spouse, and ask Him to bring you back to your "first love." Ask Him to heal any hurts that are causing you to withhold love, to draw back in fear or shame.

It's a prayer God is eager to answer.

The "want to" is the first step. But you have to go further if you want to arrive at "get to." The key is passion.

Living in the Land of Delight

Couples who have moved from discipline to delight, from duty to joyful giving, from "have to," past "want to," and all the way to "get to" tend to have one thing in common: Passion.

Passion is more than just having things steamy in the bedroom, though that is certainly one dimension of it. It extends way beyond the area of physical intimacy into the whole of your marriage. Passion is a frame of mind, a burning on the inside of you, that is full of excitement and fervor for your spouse and your marriage. 

It's not likely that a passionate marriage  will "just happen." No, you have to pursue it, cultivate it, acquire it, and guard it. 

When passion runs deep in your marriage, it is a delight to give, love and serve each other. Where there is an abundance of passion for each other (both non-sexual and sexual), there is no need to perform, no need to give in order to get love, because in a passionate marriage, love is the baseline; it's a given, a reliable constant.

The Pursuit of Passion

What can you do to get more passion in your marriage?

It's a tricky question, in a way, because I believe passion isn't necessarily obtained directly. Rather, I believe passion is a fruit that grows as a result of a change in the atmosphere of your marriage. Don't despair, though, there are definitely concrete actions you can take to change your relationship in a way that will naturally build more passion into your marriage.

In coming posts I'll be sharing four key areas of focus for building passion. I'm calling this series the Four P's of Passion. I'll be addressing husbands and wives separately over the next four weeks in Men Only Monday and Wives Only Wednesday posts. So stay tuned!

What do you think of my connection between passion and delight? Do you have a testimony to share of when God moved you from "have to" all the way to "get to?" Leave a comment.

PS  If you want to be sure not to miss any of these posts, you might want to sign up to get my blog posts by email.

PPS  I've got a new survey up on my blog that I hope you will help me with:  "Who Owns My Body?" - exploring the controversial verses in 1 Corinthians 7 about the rights to your body in marriage.

image credit: vikasuh /


Paul Byerly said...

Great post Scott. I've been exploring this move from disciplines to delights in my walk with the Lord of late, and it certainly holds true for marriage too.

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