Daily Devotion - Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Today is Groundhog Day. It also happens to be my parent's forty-eighth wedding anniversary. I'm pretty sure over the years they've heard every joke that you could possibly make about getting married on Groundhog Day. I'm also pretty sure they didn't think all that much about the fact they were getting married on Groundhog Day forty-eight years ago.
The now cult-classic movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray has made the holiday a lot more famous than when I was a kid. In the movie, Murray's character, who is a gasbag, arrogant TV reporter, gets stuck in a time warp while covering the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is forced to live the same day over and over again every day.
It's rare in this day and age to find people who have been married for forty-eight years. Most people don't have the courage, the faith or the constancy to stay married through thick and thin, the best and the worst, sickness and health "until death do us part." They reach a point in their relationship where they feel like they are stuck--living the same day over and over again. And when they find themselves in that loop, some despair, some grow angry, and many check out emotionally, spiritually and even physically.
Recent research by the Barna Group indicates that fully one third of all married men in America will cheat on their wives this coming year. One quarter of all married women will cheat on their husbands. Over half of all marriages in America will be negatively impacted by an unfaithful spouse this year--the direct result of people believing they are stuck in an endless cycle of life-stealing, monotonous, joyless days.
The Apostle Paul wrote about what it takes to maintain a good marriage. In Ephesians chapter 5, he writes: "Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." He then goes on to say to married people, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
The best way to keep your relationship from suffering a Groundhog Day perpetual loop... The best way for you to have a marriage that is vibrant, loving, strong and long-lasting... is to live for one another and to love one another as Jesus lived and loved for you. Jesus lived a life of loving sacrifice, constantly putting the needs of others before his own. He gave of himself freely and willingly, no matter the cost. This kind of "submission" is what Paul indicates is the key to a strong marriage that will stand the test of time.
By the way, in the movie Groundhog Day the only way that Bill Murray's character is able to get out of the endless cycle of living the same day over and over again is when he finally repents of all of his past wrongdoings, lets go of all of his pride and his desires to have his own needs met, and finds true love at last.
I am so grateful for my parents and their faithful Christian witness. Through good times and bad they constantly renewed their faith in God and to one another. They determined long ago that their mutual devotion to Jesus was the best way to strengthen their marriage, which enabled them to stand together in His name no matter what life tossed their way.
May you discover the wondrous example of Christ in the midst of your relationships. May you find the courage to follow his example of sacrifice, submission and service. May your relationships be strengthened to withstand the test of time. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.