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Love for the Long Haul

Poetic words from the pen of Solomon remind us that married love ought to include some sizzle: "Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love" (Proverbs 5:18-19).  These are not X-rated words, and they ought not to be embarrassing for us to read or teach. These are Holy Spirit inspired words originally written by Solomon to remind his son that the best way to affair-proof his marriage was to not let his marriage sizzle file! Sadly, some marriages file far too quickly. One man lamented to his friend, "My wife, a registered nurse, once fussed over every pain or mishap that came my way. Recently, however, I got an indication that the honeymoon is over. I was about to fix the attic fan, and as I lifted myself from the ladder into the attic, I scratched my forehead on a crossbeam. Crawling along, I picked up some splinters in both hands, and I cut one hand replacing the fan belt. On the way down the ladder, I missed the last two rungs and turned my ankle. When I limped into the kitchen, my wife took one look and said, `Are those your good pants?' "

Sizzle is good in a marriage, especially young, newly married couples (as Solomon noted). But sizzle alone won't sustain a marriage. The fuel that binds husbands and wives together over the long haul of a lifetime is love, not lust. Not the syrupy, sexy, sensual, superficial "I may hate myself in the morning, but I'm gonna love you tonight", "desperate housewives" kind of love so popular in movies and music. I'm talking about the powerful, stick-with-it-kind of love described in the Bible. The kind that carried Jesus to and held Him on the cross when it would have been so easy to quit. The kind of love that "suffers long" (1 Corinthians 13:4). Phillip Yancey writes about the kind of love that lasts over the long haul: "Early on in our marriage an older and wiser couple counseled, 'Don't depend on romantic love. It won't last. Love is a decision, not a feeling.' Honey-moon blinded, I dismissed their advice as symptomatic of an older generation out of touch with feelings; now, years later, I would agree. Yes, marriage lives on love, but it is the kind of love that parenthood demands, or Christian discipleship: a gritty decision to go forward step by step, one foot In front of the other" (Reaching For the Invisible Goal, pp 110-112). Someone said love at fiat sight is easy to understand.  It's when two people have been looking at each other for years that it becomes a miracle. That kind of love will sustain a marriage over the long haul of a lifetime.  If You Think, You Thank!

Dan Gulley
church of Christ
Smithville, Tennessee