You may have the same question many folks ask us -- “What does it really mean to have an abiding marriage?” That is a really good question. And one I have been pondering myself.
“Abide” is just not a word you hear much in daily conversations. One bible reference I checked uses several words to help us better understand the word “abide”: to remain, to dwell, or continue. But the one I like says, “not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present”.
Jesus had a lot to say about abiding in the Bible in John 15. He references abiding more than 10 times in the first section of that chapter. In verse 5 He said, “Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” If Jesus took the time to share this with His disciples just before His death on the cross, then I think we should take heed to His words as well.
So this is the first post as we look at three different facets of having an abiding marriage. If you and I could hold up abiding marriage in our hands and look at it on different sides, I believe we would see these three things. So make sure to read all 3 parts as they are posted on our site.
Part One: Surrender
The first facet of having an abiding marriage is the foundational step for all those that follow. And we hear this spoken to us by God as we read Jesus' words in John 15:1-5:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Jesus is telling us about the connection between the vine and the branches. He says that unless the branches (you and me) are connected to the Vine (Him), we cannot bear fruit. So the first thing a branch must do to bear fruit is be connected to the vine. Simple enough, right?
But what does this mean for us in marriage? How are we connected to the Vine as husbands and wives?
For my wife and I or for you and your spouse, here is the bottom line: To have an abiding marriage, both husband and wife must first surrender to God, the One who created us. Since He created us, we must trust Him to both understand and live out life and marriage as He designed it. So He is calling me to surrender my desires, my agenda, my rights, my will - really, surrender EVERYTHING.
You may be wondering, “Hey, Glen, you said that the branches needed to be connected to the Vine. What does surrender have to do with connection?” So glad you asked :)
One of the main messages of the Bible is that God loves us. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is His Story of love, connection, and pursuit of those He created. But the Bible also tells us that in the midst of God's Story, we ALL have a problem. Each of us has gone our own way, following our own selfish desires, and wanting to do our own thing, apart from God. This disobedience and rebellion toward God is called sin. And our sin separates us from the God who loves and created us. So our sin, in a real sense, disconnects us from God. Our selfishness and pride have disconnected us from the life-giving Vine. But that is not the end of the story.
God, because of His great love towards us, provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him. He alone, through His Son, Jesus, has provided the only way that we can be connected to the Vine. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18. In one of the most well known verses in the Bible, John 3:16-17, Jesus tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
Over and over in the Bible, we see the picture of God's great love for us. And this incredible love compelled Jesus to leave Heaven and come to earth to be our perfect sacrifice on the cross, dying in our place, and giving us the opportunity to be reconciled or connected to God.
But to be connected we must make the choice to surrender – recognizing that my sin has disconnected me from God. I must completely trust in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection to pay for my sins. This is the only way I can be reconciled and connected to Him. It is only as I take this first step of surrender, accepting His free gift of salvation, that I can begin a relationship with Jesus and connect and draw my life from the Vine.
So here is my question to you, husband or wife: Have you taken that first step of surrender to God? If you can confidently say “Yes” to that question, then I give thanks to God for Him drawing you into that relationship. But if you cannot confidently say “Yes”, then I know that God wants you to take that step. He wants to be connected to you. He is waiting for you to take that step of surrender.
If you want to take that most important step, I beg you to stop reading this, click on the link below, and hear God imploring you to to be connected to Him. You will never regret this first step!!
Click HERE for Your First Step to Surrender to God
If you are still reading, then I am thankful to know you have taken that first step of surrender and connection to the Lord. It is foundational to having an abiding marriage. But let me remind you that surrender to God is not a one time decision. It is something that the Lord asks us to do daily as we die to ourselves and our ways, and submit and surrender to His ways.
So what does this daily surrender look like between husband and wife? Here are a few examples of what that might look like for you:
In the midst of an argument with your spouse, rather than focusing on trying to get your point across (which is most frequently the focus of my thoughts in conflict), you surrender your “rights” to get your point across and rather focus on what your spouse is trying to say and communicate.
In the middle of the night, you hear your two-year old crying. You get up and take care of the child's needs because you want to serve and sacrifice for your spouse, even when you are dead-tired too.
You were hoping for a quiet weekend at home, when your spouse calls and shares that an old friend and their spouse are making an impromptu trip through your area and were hoping to spend some time with you both. You choose to give up your plans for the weekend and focus on both preparing for and enjoying the time with your guests.
I think God gives us chances each and every day to surrender our plans and agenda for the day to what He has for us. The only question is this: Will I follow His lead, or go my own way?
In war, what warring nations always demand to end the conflict is “unconditional surrender”. That means that one warring nation completely surrenders with no conditions or terms to the other nation. They drop their weapons, put up their hands, and submit themselves fully to the other nation.
If we take that same thought of unconditional surrender and apply it to our lives as Christ-followers, it surely calls us to a level of dying to self and living obediently for Him. Two verses come to mind related to this – one from the words of Jesus and the other from the Apostle Paul:
If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Lord, thank You that because of the blood of Jesus I am connected to you, the Vine. Help me to daily surrender to You in everything. By the power of Your Spirit in me, help me to deny myself, take up my cross, and truly follow You wherever You lead. Help me to no longer live for myself but for You, the One who died and was raised again. And help me to surrender daily in my marriage so that my marriage can truly reflect the loving relationship between You and Your bride, the church. In the Name of Jesus!
AUTHOR: Glen Solberg is a man who is passionate about marriage - his own and the marriages of those around him! He and his wife, Shawn, have been married since 1992 and have been investing in the marriages of others full-time since 2003. You can find out more by going to the About Page.
Written by Glen Solberg, Marriage Revolution, 2018. All Rights Reserved. If you have questions or suggestions, you can connect with us via our Contact Us page.