Thursday, August 16, 2012

Plugging In

When electronics are “plugged in,” they typically work because they’re connected to a power source. Or, when they’ve been plugged in and charged, you can unplug them and they usually operate at the capacity you expect them to operate. For example, when I plug in my phone to the electrical outlet that provides the power to charge it, I can expect to have about 8 hours or so hours of operation before I have to plug it in again. But, if I never plug it in, it won’t function as I would like for it to. But, not only does it need to be plugged in, it has to be plugged in to the right source. A power plug designed for 120 volts won't work for a receptacle that has been designed for 220 volts. You have to be plugged into the right source to get the outcome desired.

In much of the same way, if we expect to grow in our relationship with Jesus and our spouses, we have to plug into the right source. We can’t expect to grow if we never plug in or if we attempt plugging into the wrong source.

In Mark 1:35, we get a great picture of what it looks like to plug into the right source. Shortly after Jesus enters into His public ministry, people begin to come to Him in droves to hear His teaching and to be healed from their infirmities. One particular day, He had already spent time teaching in the Synagogue, casting out unclean spirits, and even healing Peter’s mother-in-law. When it was evening, people continued to come to Him. He was able to get no rest and time to recharge. But because Jesus has compassion for people, He took the time with them. So you can imagine the fatigue that Jesus must have felt. He would be in need of a good charging. After this event we read, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.” After being depleted by the demands and requests of a whole town, Jesus knew He needed to “unplug” from the town for a minute and get “plugged in” to the right source and be recharged. He went out, away from everything and everyone, and prayed to God. The strength that He knew He needed in His earthly body would be found and sourced in God.

Often, before we can get “plugged in” to the right source, we have to “unplug” from other things. We often hear husbands and wives frustrated that they don’t feel connected to one another anymore. They wish they could connect with one another but there just seems to be something blocking that from happening. But, then we turn and see the same couples always “plugged in” to something. They constantly have a phone in their hand, and an iPad on their lap, the television on, or are updating their status and checking everyone else’s on Facebook. They’re always plugged in to something but what they’re plugged into may be distracting them from their relationship together.

What if couples “unplugged” from all the tech and started plugging into a real source of power for their marriage. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, knew He needed to stay plugged into God while on earth. Perhaps if we plugged into God together in our marriage, we might experience His power in our lives to rejuvenate, refresh, restore and reignite passion. Unplugging from distractions and plugging into Him and your marriage may just remove the frustration of not feeling connected and present the opportunity to have a stronger connection than ever. There is real power when connected to the right source.

What are you plugged into?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fighting Through the Rubble

In the past year, there have been several tornadoes and storms that have wreaked havoc throughout the United States. Whenever one of these deadly storms settles in, destruction follows leaving nothing but ruin and rubble. After the storm concludes its dashing of hopes, the clean-up efforts shortly follow. But what happens in between the devastation and the recovery process?

Those who have seen their homes and communities destroyed can look around and be utterly devastated and rightly so. Everything that they had of earthly value  has been destroyed.  All of their years of hard work, building, and maintaining homes ended in destruction and sits in rubble. Frustration and a lack of hope can then set in.

In Nehemiah 4:10-14, the people of Israel faced a similar situation. Their homes had not been destroyed by deadly storms. Rather, their homes and city had been destroyed by the Babylonians before being taken into captivity. After being in exile, they finally return to see all the damage that had been done to their homes and the wall to their city. Obvious frustration was there but the clean-up process began anyway. In the middle of rebuilding the city wall, they were faced with opposition and discouragement. It soon became clear that it was hard for them to see past all the rubble. The fact that there was so much work to be done and so little to work with was beginning to wear them down. But, in the face of the opposing Sanballat and Tobiah, Nehemiah encouraged the people to work through the rubble and continue the “clean-up.” He also encouraged them to shift their focus away from the rubble and upon God. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes,” (Neh. 4:14b).

Many times, we look out at our situations in our marriage and all we see is rubble. We feel like a tornado has just come in and ripped everything apart and it’s all sitting in brokenness on the ground. We are led to believe that they are damaged so badly that there is no conceivable way of restoration. We’ve both hurt each other and feel hurt by the other and we say things like “we’ve just grown apart” and just know that the end is in sight. There is rubble all around and we think there is nothing to build upon or with. But there is something there to work with. Even though it may be rubble and take a great deal of hard work, there is still something to work with. The “clean-up” process is worth it but tough.  We cannot do it alone. Just as Nehemiah refocused the people’s glance from the rubble to the greatness of God, we need to recast our vision. NO, we cannot work through the rubble on our own. We need the mighty hand of God at work. But it can be done. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Just because a storm has blown in and left things a mess in your marriage doesn’t mean that it has to stay in the rubble. By the grace of God and your disciplined work, it can be rebuilt. Let’s start the clean-up efforts!