This Michigan mama’s blog was one of the first I ever read and she’s never stopped being a mentor to me. Karen Ehman and I have prayed for and cheered each other on as we’ve baked bread, raised kids, loved our husbands, and humbly endeavored to surrender to Christ to make our homes and lives reflect the good news of the gospel. Her new book, Keep Showing Up, shows us how the marriage we’ve always wanted can be the one we already have. Karen pulls up a chair on the farm’s porch today to teach us how a spouse who might sometimes drive us crazy is a blessed and beautiful thing… because it drives us to our knees. As we seek to fight fair and love despite we learn to behave like Jesus would…
Marriages today have become a grandstand of sorts.
We love to observe over-the-top nuptials unfold on our television screens.
The extravagant marriage of reality star Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries in August of 2011 cost a reported 10 million dollars and was viewed by over 4 million people over the two nights the whole grand affair was aired on television that year. Then, the new bride filed for divorce—just 72 days into their marriage, citing as her reason “irreconcilable differences.”
Some may argue that the marriage was all for show anyway—as in the literal reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashiansthat drew so many gawkers when it aired.
Whatever the case, the ins and outs of their courtship, marriage, and subsequent divorce were watched by curious people all over the globe.
Hanging in there in marriage doesn’t draw quite as big a crowd.
If you commit to do the hard behind-the-scenes work of continuing to show up and show Christ in your marriage, there will be no great applause.
Most usually you will find yourself alone—just you and the Lord.
He may be the only one to witness your marital tenacity.
Recently I took a train to Chicago to spend a few days with a friend. After making a scheduled stop the train pulled out of the depot, slowly meandering through the countryside of southwest Michigan.
Before it got up to full speed, we came to a wide space of fields, where mostly brown and beige weeds and overgrown briars grew as far as the eye could see. However, up ahead in the distance, my eye caught a sudden splash of brilliant lavender that stood in stark contrast to the bland, unbecoming foliage.
As the train traveled on, this patch of purple came more clearly into view. There in the landscape stood the biggest and most gorgeous lilac bush I have ever spied in my life, the blooms so enormous I thought they might topple the bush right over.
I thought to myself what a shame it was that this magnificent spectacle of nature was situated way out there in the boondocks where hardly anyone could see it.
But you know what? The remote location of that breath-taking bush does not detract from its splendor.
It matters not that it draws few onlookers. It is still a stunning display of growth and life. Not having an audience does not make it any less lovely.
Your marriage is that bush.
As you grow and blossom, showing up and showing Jesus, most likely you won’t gather a large audience.
Grow and blossom anyway.
The gospel of Luke records an account of Jesus and Peter—and also Peter’s fellow fishermen, James and John.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1–11 (NIV)
What was the key to this miraculous snagging of fish?
Verse 5: “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Peter and his buddies had been fishing all night—doing things their usual way—to no avail.
But when Jesus showed up, it changed everything.
Even though the rough-and-tumble fishermen didn’t understand, they did what the Lord told them to do. When Peter witnessed the power of Jesus by the change in his circumstances, he fell at his feet, recognizing his sin in stark contrast to the sinless Savior that stood before him.
But Jesus didn’t allow him to stay stuck in his sin. He calmed his fears, lifted his spirits, and gave him a new, more eternity-minded assignment.
From now on you will fish for people.
Peter and his friends abandoned their normal; they left everything behind and followed Jesus.
Fishing for people means spreading the gospel—both with our words and by our actions.
There is no better place to display the gospel than smack dab in the center of your marriage.
You see it isn’t just pastors who deliver a sermon.
Your marriage is a message and people are watching you preach.
Show the gospel to your husband. Your kids. Others in your life who may also be watching. Stop doing things the same old—dare I say normal?—way.
Listen to Jesus and then cast your net. Why?
Because He says so.
In your marriage, pray in secret. Love even when no one else is looking.
Grant grace. Forgive. Over and over again.
Never stop starting over.
Do it now.
Do it daily.
Do it just for Jesus.
Just keep showing up.
Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and writer for Encouragement for Today an online devotional that reaches over 4 million women daily. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, and the mother of three, she enjoys collecting vintage kitchen cookware, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many people who gather around her 130-year-old farm table for a taste of Mama Karen’s cooking.
Her latest book, Keep Showing Up: How to be Crazy in Love When Your Love Drives You Crazy, will equip you to act—and react—like Jesus, even in the midst of a frustrating relationship. It gives guidance for dealing with the top three reasons for conflict in marriage and teaches you how to rediscover the magic of marriage in the midst of the daily mundane. Also included are date-night discussion prompts, seven one-sentence sermons to preach to yourself to help keep your attitude and actions in check, and a questionnaire for unearthing your unique calling as a couple.
Practical. Biblical. And most of all, truly helpful. Discover how your “incompatibility” can become the strength of your marital team in this real-life guide to both living with and loving your spouse–differences and all.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]