As I pour out these thoughts that I felt led to share with two beautiful brides-to-be at our church bridal shower this past week, it may quickly become evident that I am surrounded by testosterone. Being mom to 10 & 12 year old boys and being the only girl in the house, my analogies tend to create a great visual for the male species who are wild at heart, but, fear not, I prayed over these words and God is faithful to translate in a language our hearts understand… and an added bonus is that when shared with our manly half, these truths should be fairly simple for them to compute. Those that know my story of nearly losing all that I cherish by blindly embracing my own selfishness can understand the battle cry from my heart to young couples to fiercely protect their marriage relationship from day one.
Brides, as you enter into this sacred covenant with the man you love, not only are you becoming wives, you are becoming guardians. Not only guardians, but, for when the inevitable battles arise, you are becoming warriors. This beautiful promise is fragile on its own; it is to be guarded like the rarest of treasures as you & your partner build a stronghold using the bricks of your relationships with Christ and each other to protect it. The definition of stronghold is a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack. Marriage is often painted as the “Happily Ever After”… and while God has created it to be our most fulfilling and intimate earthly relationship, it is critical to understand that we MUST prepare ourselves, as a couple, to battle for it because the attacks will come.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12
Before us is a battle that we cannot hope to bring to victory on our own strength. We must unite as one and put on the full armour of God as outlined in Ephesians 6. The Father of Lies would love nothing more than to destroy the relationship between a man and his bride, a relationship that is used to represent Christ and his church. This representation alone speaks to the sacredness of marriage.
Three areas of our marriage fortress that can be easily penetrated by the enemy if left unguarded are our words, our time and our hearts.
Guard your Words:
We’ve likely all heard children on the playground defending themselves against teasing verbal attacks with a sing-song chorus “sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. If we could remove the sting of words, I believe there would be world peace! The simple truth is that words can be the most powerful weapons of mass destruction on the planet! I have had nuclear bombs leave my mouth witnessed the devastation at ground zero that can take years to clean up. When speaking with your prince charming, keep in mind that words can wound deeply and it can be so easy to throw out little knives in defense to pierce the heart flesh when we feel wronged or hurt by this man chosen to be our earthly protector. By our own strength, it can be hard to repurpose that weapon into a building block to uplift and strengthen, and, in those times I need to cry out like David in Psalm 141:3 – Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. At times, I’d even prefer that the Lord throw a security system on that door and not give me the pass code. A wise warrior knows their weaknesses and draws strength from the Master.
Guard your time:
Time. The ultimate resource. It can be pretty overwhelming to consider how we will use this precious resource when faced with these 2 facts;
1) time is limited. No restart button, no growing it on trees, no mining it from deep underground pockets. You have only what you have.
2) You have no idea how much you have
It’s like we’re given one bottle of sparkling fine time. The glasses we pour our time into are the ones that get filled. There’s a simple truth.
You are the one hosting your life’s glitzy garden party (see… I have a girly side) and it’s not the fancy waiter deciding who gets the time. All the guests that you’ve invited in are parched and eager for a taste or gulp of your precious time and you are the one topping up glasses… or leaving them empty. Kind of makes you want to pour that bottle wisely since you can’t be sure which will be the last drop. There are aggressive guests that beg and plead, but are the least deserving, and, perhaps you even regret inviting them… social media, TV, impulse shopping, junk food, toxic relationships… yet we often find ourselves standing there pouring mindlessly. As a result, the glasses of some honored guests begin to go empty… relationships, health, our own soul… the thirst becomes withering. So choose wisely and then pour generously.
It may sound simple now as you so look forward to pouring ample time into the awaiting glass of your new husband, your co-warrior, but be diligent in continually giving him the first of your time, as routine settles in and life elbows its way to the front of line. Set aside undistracted, electronics-free time daily to reconnect, consider this as part of your disciplined training… a warrior is always training because battle doesn’t announce itself with time to prepare. The enemy thrives on surprise attacks when we are at our weakest. Not only should you set side time to reconnect with each other, but take time to train together under the tutelage of the Master. It is beyond my comprehension how often weak areas in our marriage have been pointed out during mine and Scott’s devotional times. The Holy Spirit is always faithful to nudge us in the right direction if we are willing to humbly sit together and be taught.
Guard Your Heart:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23
I have to say it again because it really is that crucial to victory. Above all else, guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it. The innermost chamber of our heart… this is the war room (not to be confused with the movie, though I can’t wait to see it!). The place where strategic decisions are made, where battles are planned… the commands for tactics that come out of this room will make or break the war. Our core values reside in this vault. Be on guard for the Trojan horse that tries to enter under any number of guises; entertainment, friendship, advice. The things I allow to enter this chamber directly impact my thoughts, my emotions, and my actions. A warrior wife can even be fooled into questioning whether her hubby is actually her opponent… or even a double agent?!
I happen to be a film lover, so I’ll use this as one teensy example of reasons to guard one’s heart. Consider the ocean of romantic, tender, swoon worthy plots out there… the princes, the heroes, the knights…all saving their damsels in distress, reciting heart-melting poetry, brushing loose tendrils of hair behind their lover’s ear. If left unguarded, this is a weak spot in our princess hearts where the enemy can niggle in and slyly, deceitfully point out ways that our man can never compare. Or on the flip side, and more of an area where I struggle since I’m not into girly movies, the action films with the strong independent women in combat, doing super cool flips and kicks… If left unguarded, my prideful heart gets the notion that it can win this war alone. I don’t need my husband to help me, I can make this the best marriage ever… on my own?! Oh, I could write a book on reasons to guard our hearts.
We are to guard our hearts against any relationships that dares to vie for the position our husband holds. Genesis 2:24 says “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”… One flesh. The moment we are joined in that covenant before God, our marriage relationship becomes the single most important earthly relationship we have… above our friends, above our family, even, dare I say it, above our future children. I am a serious family girl and it would be ever so easy for me to consider my parents’ or siblings’ opinions, plans, and the like over my own husband. But, we leave our parents, as close knit as that connection might be, and we must cleave to our man… we are one. We fight together as warriors to remain that way.
Guard your heart. Our hearts are fickle… Jeremiah 17:9 goes so far as to say “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” We cannot trust our hearts and, therefore, we dare not let ourselves be in charge of that war room. Give that position to the Ultimate General. We, as His warriors, will fight for our marriages, for our families, to protect that sacred covenant.
Our words, our time, our heart. We have to battle in prayer to keep these vulnerable areas from being susceptible to the enemy’s attack. Prayer is our most effective weapon. It is a valuable training strategy for building up strength in times of joy and then the most powerful battle strategy during tumultuous times, times where hope is all but lost… when there is absolutely nothing to be done by our own strength. Pray. Pray individually and pray together. You may have seen those little cross stitch pictures with vibrant thread spelling out “a couple that prays together, stays together”. This is truth. Be Prayer Warriors!
The most dangerous action take to take can be to take no action at all. This is relevant to the veteran couples as much as those standing on the doorstep of their wedding day. As you prepare in anticipation for this precious union in the coming days and weeks, keep in mind that behind the stunning gown and gorgeous shoes is not simply a beautiful bride, but a waking warrior. Etch that title on your heart as you vow to battle to protect that promise until death do you part.