Vision For Sustaining a Fulfilling Marriage

Marriage is the deepest form of relationship that exists among mankind. It is a precursor to the building of a home. In the sight of God, who created the institution of marriage: 1. Marriage is honorable (Hebrew 13:4) 2. Marriage is God's package of help for the fulfillment of our divine assignment on earth (Genesis 2:7-8, 15, 18-25) 3. Marriage is for the raising of godly seeds (Malachi 2:15-16) 4. Marriage provides leverage for greater productivity (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

The crucial place of a common vision in sustaining a fulfilling Marriage
The crucial place of a common vision in sustaining a fulfilling Marriage

However, the experience of many in our society today seems to be the reverse because of the terrible mistake of trying to run and maintain God's creation with human ideas. Ungodly concepts like prenuptial agreement (an agreement couples sign before marriage to protect their wealth and asset in event of divorce), common-law partners (people who co-habit as husband and wife, enjoy the benefits of marriage yet they are not willing to embrace the sacrificial commitment marriage demands) and many others strange concepts are getting increasing acceptance by carnally minded people who are not willing to live by the standard of God's word. Deep in the heart of many they do not even believe that a fulfilling marriage is attainable, hence a lot of these ideas to protect people's selfish interest. As committed believers, the only model to follow is God's model - the principle found in His word. THE PLACE OF PURPOSE IN THE MASTER PLAN FOR MARRIAGE In project management, there is an interesting word used to explain the relationship between activities - dependency. The erection of a roof, is mandatorily dependent on the building of the wall of the building. The erection of a building was is mandatorily dependent on the building of a foundation. Therefore as important as the main building is, it could never have existed without a foundation. Dependency defines the sequence of activities. In the account of creation, the first thing God gave Adam was an assignment, which can otherwise be referred to as a purpose for living. Marriage came as God's gift to Adam to provide him with the complimentary interpersonal support he needed to fulfill that assignment. Purpose was defined and revealed before marriage was created or initiated. The implication of this is that marriage by God's design is founded on a purpose and an assignment; two people; male and female collectively embrace and pursue. The visualization of this purpose and assignment is what is called vision. In a larger context, vision, purpose and assignment can be used interchangeably. This purpose is something we discover by the Holy Spirit and is not what a couple invents from their own imagination. When a couple disregards this commonly-shared purpose and begins to focus on personal pleasure, it is only a matter of time; the marriage will lose its meaning and most likely collapse. A shared purpose or common-vision is at the root of any relationship that will stand the taste of time. The Holy Spirit through prophet Amos unveils this wisdom: "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" Amos 3:3, NIV The question to ask is - unless they have agreed to do what? The New Living Translation makes even clearer "Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?" Amos 3:3, NLT This reveals an important truth; every relationship that will last must have a clearly defined direction - otherwise called a purpose or vision that the parties involved wholeheartedly embrace, pursue and help each other attain. Succinctly put, I would say that a lasting relationship (e.g. marriage) is founded on a common vision, fuelled by love and lubricated by mutual respect for each other. However, please note it must begin with a common-vision that the parties involved have agreed to embrace and wholeheartedly pursue. CASE STUDY 1 - PAUL AND BARNABAS How they met "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him . . ." Acts 9:26-27, NIV Lesson: This was a stage of affirmation and faith in the person of Paul. A major relationship had not yet started. He met Paul briefly and was willing to vouch for his new identity as a disciple of Jesus. This was a stage of friendship. How the Partnership Began? "Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" Acts 11:25-26, NIV Lesson: From friendship, the relationship went on to a spiritual partnership focused on ministering to the saints. For them, their common-vision was to teach and raise disciples for Jesus. God Approves of this Partnership 'In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.' Acts 13:1-3, NIV . . . The partnership last a while and exploits are done "From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples." Acts 14:26-28, NIV Lesson: It is obvious that they (Paul and Barnabas) succeeded in this "first phase" of ministry and they had lots of testimony to share of God's doing through their partnership. However, something is waiting around the corner. Disagreement Breaks the Partnership Approved of God 'Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.' Acts 15:36-41, NIV Lesson: That a partnership (in our case marriage) is approved of God does not mean it will not come under trying situations; it does mean it will automatically succeed and remain a success without the necessary inputs of the people involved in the partnership. The people in the partnership (we in the marriage) must apply extra care to ensur