We were sitting in a large circle in a log room by a stone fireplace this weekend at The Shack in White Cloud, Michigan with couples from Woodland Church. The conversation flowed with laughter, a few tears here and there, encouraging words, and authenticity. These couples are working at building great marriages. It’s easy to see that they all cared about one another in the room as well. The level of trust and affection was so high that it would have been impossible to have left that room without knowing your marital happiness and success mattered to everyone present.
I thought, this is just as Becky and I envisioned that it would be one day. A trusting atmosphere, openness, encouragement and support for couples who want to see good marriages grow into great marriages. We believe that marriage is truly sacred and we want to encourage one another in this life long journey of love. It was the second marriage retreat that we have led from our congregation. Three years ago we believed that we had come to a place where we could speak into the lives of couples from our congregation in a retreat setting as trusted pastor and friends. We were not guest speakers for them as we’ve been honored to do for others. These couples are different, we pastor them, faced challenges together and chose to live and raise our children with them as a part this community. We are not professional family, we are a pastoral family.
Ray Rachels, the former District Superintendent for the Southern California Assemblies of God, once told me, “The greatest gift you can give a community is to live your life among them as a pastor.” That one statement rang like a bell in my soul and still rings brightly and cheerfully.
It’s that life calling that makes weekends like this past one so meaningful. We didn’t fly in and speak to a group of wonderful Christian people. We live with and pastor these friends and know them. Best of all I did it with my beautiful wife of 35 years, Becky.
She spoke eloquently, persuasively and lovingly on the Second Chapter. Here is an outline of my notes from her presentation.
The first years she called Contrast, Comparing your Growing up Home to your Grown Up Home. Then come the Investment Years, Investing in Relationships, Finances and Eternity. Then the Accomplished Years, when as a couple you have fine tuned your spiritual gifts, your skills and your investments have freed you to give to others of your finances and time.
I promise that she will share this message with us soon at Woodland.
Compare your grown up home to your growing up home. Did you have a good foundation given to you for life and marriage? Have you been able to build upon the foundation that you were given? Are you giving your children a loving and encouraging growing up home?
Who are you as a couple investing in relationally? Are you a part of a small group? A ministry group?
Are you investing financially? It’s amazing what small investments can become over the years? Are you able to say no to momentary pleasures to prepare for future happiness?
Are you investing for eternity? What are your treasures? Where are you storing up your truest riches?
The Accomplished Years begin when, like a skilled musician, who can distinguish the tonal qualities of an instrument by ear, have reached a skillful place of generous living. Your spiritual gifts, skills and investments enable you share your time, talent and treasure generously. It might be here or living abroad investing in the lives of others. What are you doing today to prepare you for the future you want to live in?
Tomorrow I’ll post on my topics.
Grace, Peace and Joy!