Friday, February 26, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 12: Plant

My three children have been taught to love each other, however, I would be lying if I said they always treated other with kindness.

On more than one occasion in the middle of a heated case of sibling rivalry, I have tried to help them understand that their actions, and reactions, towards their brother or sister is what they are planting in their relationship. Kindness begets kindness, and hatefulness begets hatefulness, and so on.

I have also been known to remind them that "you reap what you sow", which usually results in some eye rolling and under-breath sighs, but helps them remember that the seeds they plant in the hearts of each other is what they can expect to get in return.

Funny how easy it is to teach our children these important life truths, but forget to apply those same truths to our own life - especially with consideration of what we are planting in our marriage relationships.

"Reaping and sowing" is a pretty easy concept to understand why we do find it so hard to apply its importance in our marriages? Why do we forget to plant seeds that will build up the marriage, but still expect good things to grow? Why do we plant weeds, and then be disappointed when we get weeds?! God has given wives an important job of being a faithful gardener in our marriages.

An attentive and hopeful gardener (aka, wife) knows that what is planted in the marriage, will get harvested down the road.

An attentive and hopeful gardener (aka, wife) knows that the decisions she makes about what to plant, will affect the outcome of what grows in the field eventually.

An attentive and hopeful gardener (aka, wife) also knows that the planting does not guarantee the harvest, because the seeds that were planted, need proper care and attention.

Genesis 8:22 says "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease." What this verse teaches us is that there is always a time for planting, and a time for harvest, so it is never too late to start sowing good seed.

Galatians 6:7 and 9 say, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.; Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." This verse explains how Sowing seed and taking proper care of those seeds, will always produce a harvest, eventually. It is a fact.

The first question to honestly ask ourselves today is, what type of seeds are we sowing in our marriages?

The second question is, what seeds does God call us to sow in our marriages?

The third question is, are the seeds that we are sowing, and the seeds that God calls us to sow, the same?

Lets take a look today at those seeds God desires that we sow, that will result in us harvesting the gifts of a healthy marriage that He wants each of us to have.

#1 Seeds of Love: Unfortunately in many marriages, a woman may feel as if she simply does not love her husband anymore. Maybe she doesnt think he is the same man she married. Maybe he has hurt her and betrayed her trust. Maybe he has not met her expectations. Maybe they have just spent so little time together over the years, that they just dont know each other anymore.

In any case, it is never too late to sow love, and it is never beyond our capabilities to find that love to sow, because Gods love comes from God, not from feelings.

God can pour those seeds of love into our hearts, to reinvest into our marriages, even we cannot we cant find that love anywhere in our hearts - the love that 1 Corinthians 4 talks about, that is patient, kind and selfless.

But if we dont feel it, how we can give it? Upon reading 2 Corinthians 9:8-11, we discover how to embrace this 'loving-him-when-we-really-dont-feel-like-it' concept:

"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God." (The Message Bible)

The part I like best about that verse is where it says "...He gives you something you can then give away", which means if we ask God for seeds of love to sow, He will provide them.

For any of you who are finding it hard to sow love into your marriages, even if for very valid and justified reasons, this is the perfect verse to tuck away in your heart, while asking God to give you the seeds to sow that you cannot find within yourself.

For women who are still in love with their husbands, it might just be a matter of examining our actions to see if we are in deed sowing the love that we feel, or do we allow daily pressures and busyness to prevent us from outwardly showing, I mean sowing, those seeds of love.

#2 Seeds of Actions: Over the past 11 days, we have talked about many ways to sow seeds into our marriages through encouraging words, protecting his reputation, praying for him, changing our perspectives, spending time with him, etc. Each time we sow love through our actions and encouraging words, we are planting seeds that will bear fruit in our marriages.

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. (NIV)

#3 Seeds of Blessings: If you are like me, I treasure even the tiniest gift or act of kindness from my husband which he simply gives out of love, more than the biggest, most expensive gift given on a birthday or holiday. That gift is a symbol of a heartfelt blessing, one given out of love, just because.

God gave the life of His son, just because. Not because we deserved it, or because we had a birthday, but just because of His infinite love for us. In the same way, God calls us to bless others, especially our husbands, just because, by lovingly planting seeds of blessing.

Proverbs 11:15 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (MSG)

#4 Seeds of Intimacy: This is a topic that most women want to avoid, especially since it is typically more important to the hubby, than to the wife. But the fact of the matter is that if a wife doesnt plant seeds of intimacy in the marriage, then seeds of discord and distance will be planted instead. Sexual intimacy in a marriage is crucial, and without it, weeds are guaranteed to grow.

1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. (NIV)

I realize this is a very touchy subject, and certainly one that I am not an expert about by any wild stretch of the imagination. However, I do understand the emotional distance that is created when a husband and wife do not make time for intimacy. I do understand the feeling of awkwardness and hesitation to bridge that distance after a while. I do understand the feelings of sadness and neglect when intimacy is missing from a relationship. And I do understand, through my own experiences, that I do not like those feelings at all!

If a wife it not planting seeds of intimacy, and if has been weeks, months, even years without intimacy in a marriage - IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO START PLANTING. The time is always right to begin sowing those seeds of intimacy, even if it requires the supernatural strength and courage of God to overcome those feelings of distance, resentment, awkwardness, hesitation, neglect, loneliness and sadness. And remember, all things are possible with God. Not some, but all.

As seeds are planted, even those seeds that we didnt want to plant, the harvest will eventually begin to grow, and flourish. In time, those seeds that we planted through the strength and grace of God, may turn out to be the exact seeds that save a marriage from being choked out by an over abundance of weeds that had been planted for years. Planting seeds & pulling weeds will always pay off.

2 Corinthians 9:6 says, "Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop." (NLT)

Our challenge today is to take a long, hard look at our marriage gardens, and ask ourselves if we are planting seeds of love, sweet actions, blessings and intimacy, or have we only been focused on fertilizing the weeds?

If it turns out that we recognize a need to start sowing seeds from God into our marriage gardens, instead seeds of our own choosing, lets challenge ourselves to start a fresh harvest, and get excited about reaping the fruits of a new harvest.

Whether your marriage is thriving, or hanging on by a thread, it is always a time for planting good seeds, and the sooner you begin to sow, the sooner your harvest will begin to grow.

2 Corinthians 9:6 says this, "Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving." (The Message)

So many times we pray for miracles in our marriages, but arent willing to do what it takes to make the soil fertile for a great harvest to grow.

I challenge you today to be willing get on your knees, get your hands dirty, and start doing some planting that will reap a bountiful harvest.

Marriage Challenge Day 12: PlantSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Anonymous said...

Amen and thank you!

Anonymous said...

You can not even imagine what these have done for me! Thanks so much, I know they are God inspired!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,
Still with yhea, Snow day here. Children home. Just popping you a note. Beautiful article.
Thanks Rhonda

LeeAnn@Encouragement Is Contagious said...

Thank you Tracie! I want a lavish garden in my marriage. I definitely could be working more diligently in this area you talked about today and I will.

Anonymous said...

It took me two days to get through this challenge as I studied. What wonderful content...content that will be soooo helpful, thank you! Correction to the verse Proverbs 11:25...instead of 11:15. That certainly speaks volumes!