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Monday, April 13, 2015

It's time to renew your dreams and even add to them. It's never too late.

A few days ago I turned 55. I can hardly believe that number.

Of course I know that 55 is mathematically only one year older than 54, but somehow the prospect of being closer to 60 than to 50 has been tough on me mentally. Whatever age you are, you've probably had certain milestone birthdays that have been more difficult than others. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Right?

Victory, Not Decline, Is Our Destiny

Compounding this benchmark birthday, or maybe because of it, I've been feeling like too many areas of my life are in decline recently. I've had a few health issues (nothing major), I've stepped down from leading worship to focus on marriage ministry, which isn't going like I'd hoped it would: book still unfinished, small group curriculum unpublished, blog posts getting fewer and farther between, new website remains a distant dream.

I could go on, but  you get the point. Too many things not going in the direction I want them to.Discouragement abounded.

Then the other day I stumbled across a little verse that seemed to be straight from the Lord to my heart. It is from The Passion Translation, which I highly recommend for it's insight into the heart of God.
And say to Archippus, “Be faithful to complete the ministry you received from our Lord Jesus and don’t give in to your problems until they yield the victory God intends for you to have!”
Colossians 4:17 (TPT)
As the footnote in The Passion Translation explains, "We can only speculate why Paul wanted this exhortation to be made to him. Some believe he was a minister of Christ who was discouraged and needed to be exhorted to not abandon his calling."

When I think about the trials and discouragement those in the early church faced, my meager difficulties seem pretty minor. Still, Paul's words of encouragement spoke to me.

No matter your age, whatever the reason, we all have seasons where we feel discouragement, decline and/or disappointment. Just like with Archippus, God doesn't want us to give up! He wants us to hold onto hope, to hold onto him until victory comes. And it does come. God  has a destiny for you and me that is greater than anything we could dream or imagine.
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].
Ephesians 4:20 (AMP)
Hope For Your Marriage

Although my marriage is not one of the areas where I am battling disappointment, I know I need to never give in to the idea that marriages inevitably decline. It's a lie that I never want to agree with. I know there are a lot of couples who have lost hope. Maybe past hurts, years of disconnection and pain, or a basic lack of intimacy on any level have left you feeling hopeless and helpless.

We can take heart in the fact that God is a redeemer and a restorer. It's his nature. It's who He is and what He does. We can cling to that truth. I've seen him do miracles in so many hard, seemingly hopeless marriages.

What unfulfilled dreams do you have for your marriage? What desires have you let go of? What dreams do you want to add to those you have already?

I strongly believe that there is always more ahead for every marriage. More love. More intimacy. More passion. I believe it for my marriage, and I believe it for yours. Even the best marriages can discover deeper levels of these things. And struggling marriages can rekindle them again.

Where to Start

Start with God. It might sound trite, but it's a powerful truth that the love you need to sustain your marriage is best found in the One who is Love.

As the Apostle Paul prays in Ephesians 3, we are to never stop pursuing a deeper understanding of the powerful, relentless love of God. First, because it's critical to learn how He feels about us. Second, because He longs to equip us with His love in the journey of our marriages. God's love is our foundation.

Second, change the way you think. Allow God to renew your hope and to speak heaven's perspective into your dreams. He is a good Father who has great things to say to you. Seek Him and His heart for you, your spouse and your marriage.

Then begin to do little things to work on you and the way you interact with your spouse. There is no magic formula here. Reach across the divide between the two of you with kind words and small gestures of love. Do your best to focus more on what you can give than on what you expect to receive. There will be setbacks, but press on. Pray a lot. Forgive quickly. Let grace abound.

Here's a little extra encouragement I read recently from Nitty Gritty Love, When Your Marriage Seems Hopeless.

No matter how long you feel like your marriage has been in decline, don't give up hope. It's never too late for God to move and turn things around. 

Do you have a story of God working  to save or restore your marriage? Share your story with a comment.

Here are just a few encouraging testimonies of restored marriage dreams from some fellow marriage bloggers:


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