The photographer stated, "Pretty sure this will only happen once in my lifetime!" As Colleen Niska was taking wedding pictures of a Canadian couple near Saskatchewan, the blue sky suddenly began to swirl as a front approached. Suddenly a tornado touched down in the background (Link to story). The pictures of the couple walking and kissing, seemingly unaware of the approaching danger, are very symbolic. We enter the bonds of matrimony thinking "happily ever after." Everything is wonderful. Everything is blissful. However, the wedding is only the beginning. Difficulties will certainly arise.
How a couple has prepared for those arguments, disagreements, and problems will often determine marital success, or failure. When a storm is coming, you do not wait until it is over before you get in a shelter. Everyone knows the familiar Bible text of Ephesians 5 and the instruction there for husbands and wives. But notice all of the verbs the chapter contains for Christians before it ever gets to marriage. Before the storms of marriage arise, there are eight important "storm-shelters" to remember...
1. Remember the Storm-Shelter of GODLINESS (vs.1). Imitating God means being Godly. It means adding those traits of kindness, grace, forgiveness, love, and sacrifice that are so needed in order to have a successful marriage.
2. Remember the Storm-Shelter of LOVE (v.2). Walking in love for one another the way Christ loved us means we must love sacrificially. It is agape love used here. We must love our spouse and want to please them more than self.
. Remember the Storm-Shelter of AVOIDING UNRIGHTEOUSNESS (vv.3-5). How many marriages have invited storms into their homes by bringing in unrighteousness to their lives? Immorality or any impurity? Pornography to "spice up" the bedroom has lead to addiction and affairs. Greed...Covetous? The love of money has ruined many a marriage. Filthiness and silly talk...coarse jesting? A thoughtless joke can cut to the heart and destroy feelings. Idolater? Allowing anything to replace the Lord as ruler of a home leads to ruin. We must avoid those things and keep them out of our marriage and home.
4. Remember the Storm-Shelter of TRUTH (vv.6-7). How many "little white lies" and gossip have brought down marriages? Do not listen to others' tales about your spouse, and do not deceive your spouse. Always be completely and totally honest with each other.
. Remember the Storm-Shelter of LIGHT (vv.8-13). Remember, when one puts on Christ, they are beginning a new life. When a couple makes the vow of marriage, he and she are beginning a new life. Walk as you ought to! Do not even flirt with evil. Do not even let the word "divorce" cross your lips, even in jest. Focus your marriage and home on goodness, righteousness, truth, and learning to please the Lord.
6. Remember the Storm-Shelter of AWARENESS (vv.14-16). As time goes on, it is easy to let down our guard and not work as hard on our marriage as we should. Always be vigilant! Do not fall asleep on your duties! Be careful how you handle your marriage! Make the most of your time together to fortify and strengthen your relationship!
7. Remember the Storm-Shelter of the BIBLE (v.17). Do not be so foolish as to think you can make it without God's word! Study it TOGETHER. Study it DAILY. Together, you can understand what He would have you to be, individually, as a couple, and in your home.
8. Remember the Storm-Shelter of FULFILLMENT (v. 18-21). Do not seek fulfillment in drunkenness. Instead, be filled with the spirit. How? Speak to one another. Sing to one another. Make melody with each other. Give thanks together. Be subject to one another. The same activities we engage ourselves in during worship to build up the body of Christ will also build up our spouses and our marriages when we practice them together, and do so often.
You have heard it before. "Marriage is work." "Marriage is tough." To a certain extent, those statements are true. Just like a lot of things, however, an ounce of prevention in marriage is worth a pound of cure. By putting these storm-shelters in our lives and in our marriages ... by laying the proper foundations for our homes ... by committing our marriages not only to one another, but to the Lord ... the storms that will surely come CAN be weathered. They only can, though, when we seek shelter in Him!