Of all God’s beautiful creations, the beach is where I love to be. Mountains are majestic, flowery fields are lovely, secluded streams in backwoods are peaceful – but the beach is heavenly. The blend of water, wind, sunshine and sand is the perfect elixir for the soul. Each year our family takes a week to sink our feet in the seashore and stare across the ocean while our Northeast Ohio complexions beg the sun to add some color to our winter white. During our respite we always enjoy the simplicity of building sand castles despite Mother Nature assuring their temporary existence. Thankfully, sand isn’t hard to come by and there is always the opportunity to “build again.”
Whereas the beach beckons us to build castles upon its coast, when it comes to marriage God instructs us to refrain from this activity amid the shores of our covenant. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27
From its inception, the foundation of my marriage was set upon the rock of my husband’s faith as we married in the Catholic Church. Despite my Protestant roots, my understanding of Christianity was barely basic – I knew God existed and that Jesus died on the Cross and arose three days later. Little did I know as we spoke our covenant vows the importance of Christ being the bedrock of our sacrament. My lack of spiritual awareness and intimacy with Christ early on had me naively building our marital walls by stacking bricks without a lasting adhesive in between. What I was doing was setting each brick upon a dry and dusty mix of sand, limestone and aggregate – each component representing things like my human love, good intentions, honesty, etc. In and of themselves each of the natural elements was important, but when the winds of change blew against the walls the sandy mixture wasn’t enough to keep our home from crumbling with ease. We frequently found ourselves in disarray each time a moderate gust of conflict managed to dismantle a few bricks. Over the years as my faith and communion with Christ grew through prayer and the study of His Word, I was able to add the supernatural water of God’s love into the mixture between the bricks. As the components absorbed the spiritual rain, they miraculously formed a concrete that began to hold our sacramental walls firmly in place. Whereas the walls I innocently built upon sand alone eroded time and again when hurt, disappointment, failures, doubt, or miscommunication stormed our home, the walls bound with Godly mortar were able to withstand the tempests of the Tempter. My husband and I learned the hard way the wisdom of Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
Sand is endless on the beach; always available for us to have a second chance in building a childlike masterpiece. Time with our spouse together in our covenant is limited. My husband and I are very blessed that God has given us plenty of second chances to get it right in the matter of building our marital castle. Our children are exponentially blessed as a result. We believe we have been awarded the opportunity to “build again” because our initial covenant vows were set upon our Christian faith whether we realized the significance at the time or not. The reality is someday, whether sooner or later, our time runs out either by our own doing, our spouses doing or by God’s dominion over our time spent here on earth. If there is anything of value I can share from experience as one sister of Christ to another, attempt to walk each day in the joy and suffering of Christ’s wisdom throughout your marriage – even if your spouse chooses not to. If your marriage did not begin on a solid Christian foundation, maybe now is the time for a home makeover. Demolish the old and rebuild upon Christ’s love. If a makeover seems out of reach and you find yourself wandering around looking for answers, ask God to help you resist the urge to walk a wider and many times less painful human engineered road. This type of path can lead any of us astray because it is usually riddled with disobedience. Instead, it serves us all well to pray for the resolve to travel with complete abandon the narrow and God-ordained road of service and humility that is lined with the desire to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This road can only be navigated with the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, sometimes our covenant home will fall apart regardless of the road we walked or how purposeful we were in building the walls. The Holy Spirit can lead our steps and God’s love can create mortar between the bricks, but other substances like bad attitudes, unbelieving hearts, or broken spirits by one spouse or both can leak into the crevices and break down the binding agents. When this happens some of us sadly find ourselves standing alone in a pile of ruins. But if we have been mindful of God’s call along the way; choosing to be a wise woman who hears Christ’s words and puts them into practice, then we can breathe in deeply the certainty of God’s redeeming grace. He assures us that our eternal marriage with the Bridegroom will last forever in Heaven’s castle if the walls of our heart are set firmly upon the solid rock of Christ.
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