“If I’ve done something wrong, I’m sorry.” “. . . . and I’ll try not to do it again, but I can’t guarantee anything.” “I was wrong to _____, but it was really your fault.” Have you ever heard statements like these, or maybe even said them yourself? Clumsy apologies—if you can even call them apologies. And in marriage a bad apology, or lack of an apology, can begin to cost you the whole relationship.
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Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. — Deuteronomy 30:19-20a (NLT)
I enjoy road trips—time alone in the car to sing along with praise music on the radio, see some pretty countryside, stop for coffee a time or two, and get caught up on some Bible studies on CD or my iPod. Recently I was listening to some really good Bible teaching on marriage and family issues from a favorite pastor/teacher. He said something like, “A great marriage will last at least 100 years.” I just about slammed on the brakes right there on the interstate! What??? My thoughts did an immediate scramble with instant messaging going on like, “I’ve never known anyone who has been married 100 years!! I’ve known lots of great marriages which didn’t last anything close to that!!”
But once I regained my thoughts and heard the rest of what he was saying, it was obvious—and I felt pretty silly for jumping so quickly on what I thought was sheer presumption. He was speaking about the legacy of a great marriage . . . . and yes, that gift which a Christian husband and wife can give to their children, grandchildren, even generations-to-come is something that MasterCard would say is truly “priceless.” That loving couple can demonstrate things like forgiveness, humor, hard work, grace, importance of family, patience, fun, humility, faith, perseverance, joy, developing friendships, honesty, etc. It’s all there to observe in the marital relationship and how it relies on faith in God to mature as “life” happens.
In the HomeBuilders Bible study entitled Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready, there is an appendix article which tells the story of Morrie and Shirley Lawing. It is Appendix D, “Leaving a Legacy of an Enduring Marriage.” The authors wanted the Lawings’ story included in the HomeBuilders because of its significance in demonstrating the exact principle which I listened to in my car and which is outlined in the Bible study—how a couple in the military can pass on their love to generations to come. Let me share with you how this writing begins: “Can you imagine a marriage journey that started 248 years ago, in the year 1760, and continues on to this day? Hard to believe, isn’t it? But we’re not talking about just one marriage; rather, a legacy of enduring marriages from one special family. Meet Morrie and Shirley Lawing. Morrie and his family can point to five generations of marriage from his family of origin—all those marriages going the distance and finishing strong. You see, Morrie comes from an uninterrupted family history of stay-together marriages.” (p. 119)
The author of this appendix, Keith Morgan, is a friend of the Lawings and a co-author of the HomeBuilders. He has seen in them a model which is such an encouragement for all of us who want our marriages to last through the trials of life, and finish strong in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keith recounts the story that Morrie tells as a speaker at Military Ministry’s Marriage Seminars about his experience in Vietnam when he held his best friend, George, as he was dying of a fatal wound from an artillery round. His best friend’s dying words were, “Tell my wife that I love her.” “When Morrie escorted George’s remains home, he was able to pass on those last words to the man’s wife and family . . . but those words continue to echo in Morrie’s mind. And they underscore the central message he weaves throughout the seminars he teaches—of building oneness in marriage.” (p. 121)
Morrie and his wife, Shirley, challenge their military audiences with two imperatives: “Be committed,” and “Be persistent.” Morrie’s struggle with PTSD, their career in the military and its demands on their family in terms of moving and deployment separation, and their authentic faith and desire to pass on a godly legacy to their children, grandchildren, and generations to come is an inspiring story worth sharing.
The writer of their story understands that not all of us come from a family like the Lawings. And so he adds, “Perhaps you have a family history of broken marriages. If you do, then you can join me by driving a stake in the ground and declaring a new legacy of destiny, so one day our great-grandchildren will rejoice in the longevity of our marriages.” (p. 123)
God knows that marriage is not easy. But for those who take God at His Word, there is victory in letting God carry us through life’s challenges. Psalm 37:4,5 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” In James 1:2-4 we read, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Do you want a marriage that will grow in faith and finish hand-in-hand with your spouse? Don’t give up. . . give it to God. He is faithful. “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” — Deuteronomy 30:19b
I will sing of the LORD’S great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. — Psalm 89:1
Posterity will serve Him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn—for He has done it. — Psalm 22:30,31
For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. — Psalm 100:5
Morgan, Keith, “Leaving a Legacy of an Enduring Marriage,” Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready (Little Rock, FamilyLife Publishing, 2008)
Thoughts to Share:
1. If you come from a family with intact and loving marriages, give thanks to God and resolve together to continue that legacy in your own marriage by seeking to grow in your faith.
2. If you come from a family with broken relationships, turn to God and each other with the commitment to make a change for generations to come because of His faithfulness.