The first year of my marriage to Ann was horrible. We were fighting every single day about every single thing. I was convinced that I married the wrong person because I was so unhappy. It got so bad that one night, after another unending conflict, I crawled out of bed at 3am and went to beg God for a miracle. I actually ended up praying a very honest prayer. I prayed, “Jesus please take me home to heaven now because I’d rather be dead than married to this woman.”
Not where I thought I would be 6 months after my wedding day.
But we discovered a secret that actually saved our marriage…
Over the 35+ years of our marriage, Ann and I often faced what at the time felt like death. The death of our dreams. The death of our expectations. The death of our love.
In fact, the only reason we are still together is that there was—and is—a very loving and personal Father who intervened to transform each of our lives and personalities. And through this unlikely love triangle, an amazing life together emerged from those moments of seeming death.
This is the wonderful mystery of what God promises to do in the lives—and the marriages—of his people. He takes weeping that has lasted all night and somehow turns it into a joyful morning of rejoicing. He takes ashes—the final, worthless thing that remains when everything has burned to the ground—and produces something beautiful. Yes, he transforms death into life. This is not just a metaphor; this is literally what God does. That’s the only reason we are still here and still married—happily, by the way.
You don’t have to be perfect for God to do this kind of daily miracle in your life or marriage. We certainly are not. You can be severely flawed. Angry. Addicted. Apathetic. Even atheistic. From each of these positions, you are still being targeted by grace. You are still in the sights of the Savior. There is no need to clean up your marriage before you can fully trust in the Vertical to begin being active in your story.
The very fact that you are reading these words is evidence that you are being pursued by grace—what great news! Even when I had been a negligent husband and father, driving away the feelings my wife once had for me, Christ was pursuing me. He never stopped caring, even when my hypocrisy was at cataclysmic levels. I never deserved his vertical attention—and I still don’t. And yet he never stops.
The Right Place to Start
The right place to begin is not the simple application of relational tips, tricks, or takeaways. Neither is it addressing every single problem in your marriage so that each faux pas can be meticulously attacked with all the energy each of you can muster—trust me, this approach will leave you exhausted, because treating your marriage like a work project can demolish the very relational parts you are trying to salvage.
No, the right place to begin is to start with Jesus. Believe rightly and fully that God’s grace in Christ is being extended to you, regardless of how distant, unworthy, or dirty you feel.
We could easily coach you to work harder to make a better marriage, but this approach alone will never produce a vertical story or a vertical marriage. Self-discipline is great, but it doesn’t transform hearts; only Christ can do that. First you need to abandon yourself to God’s love for you. Trust in God first, and you will be inviting all that only God can do in your life and marriage.
Once you’ve trusted in God, you’ll be ready to tackle your marriage—but all your efforts will actually work, because a divine energy will be empowering your thoughts and deeds.
Why not hit your knees right now and pray this prayer…”HELP!”
You think that is to simplistic of a prayer?
Actually that is a heartfelt request that God loves to answer. I promise you that if you ask Jesus for help…right now…He is running to your rescue even before the words are out of your mouth.
So go ahead. Help is on the way.
The above is an excerpt from Dave and Ann Wilson’s 2019 release, Vertical Marriage: The One Secret that Will Change Your Marriage. [Symbol] Copyright 2018 by Dave and Ann Wilson. Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, 3900 Sparks Drive SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546