Commitment of Love
Zeke worked as a city employee, and Sara worked as a professor at a university in the same city. Zeke and Sara got married in their Asian homeland. Having both been raised in a secular society, their wedding did not include a ceremony, vows, or rings, but instead, it involved a simple formality of obtaining a marriage certificate.
Before long, they had a daughter, and Sara had the opportunity to spend a sabbatical year at a university in Hawaii. Her husband took a leave of absence from his job and joined Sara there. In Hawaii, Sara came to know and accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord. Once they returned home, Sara spent a lot of time at church, but her husband did not have the same interest at all. Sara faithfully prayed for his conversion.
When Sara earned a second opportunity for a sabbatical, she and her young daughter came to Iowa. She really enjoyed participating in ISI activities, so when she got another sabbatical opportunity three years later, she returned to Iowa. This time both her husband and daughter joined her, with Zeke taking another leave of absence from his job. He joined in all the ISI activities, but because of the language and cultural difficulties, he could not fully grasp the presentation of the Christian message.
Nearing the end of his six-month leave, we received an emergency call from the couple; they told us their marriage was broken. With only one week left before Zeke would return to Asia, they cried out to us for help. We offered to come to their home and meet with them for the five remaining evenings, from nine until midnight, while their daughter slept.
When we arrived the first evening, Zeke had written down all his complaints about their marriage. We listened for two hours, as Sara painstakingly translated his words into English. He maintained that he had made huge career sacrifices by taking leaves from his job to join his wife overseas several times. It seemed they had hurt each other emotionally for many years, and that evening they couldn’t even look each other in the eyes.
It took about a half an hour for each of them to admit that each was not the other’s enemy. Exhausted, we prayed with them and went home. The next evening when we arrived, we explained how the triune God had designed authority and accountabilities; we sketched many triangles on a white board, representing the Godhead, roles in government, schools, marriage, families, etc… They took pictures of the white board.
We then moved on to explain the four types of love in the Greek language of the New Testament, and how the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives were described in Ephesians 5. We showed them that the basic need of a wife is to receive unconditional love, and the basic need of the husband is to receive respect. We discussed these basic needs, as well as the movie Fireproof (which they had seen recently but not fully understood). Again, they took pictures of the white board.
On the third evening, we talked about submission to one another and to God. That evening, Zeke seemed very open to God’s endless and unconditional agape-love. After a long discussion, Zeke proclaimed he felt ready to fully accept Jesus as his Savior and Lord. What an explosion of joy and relief!
The fourth evening we talked about forgiveness; this proved to be a difficult concept for people from their particular Asian country. The wife admitted she had never had this kind of teaching back home, and she felt ashamed that she had not respected her husband. They had never given each other compliments, signs of appreciation, or affection.
When we arrived for our last evening together before Zeke would return home, we observed a changed couple. They had purchased wedding rings, and we performed a wedding ceremony with wedding vows and commitments. Right then, we experienced God’s restoration of a broken marriage as they exchanged heartfelt promises to God and to each other to live a godly life together. We committed to follow up with online video sessions on marriage after Zeke returned to Asia.
When we only seek to satisfy our own needs, our selfishness leaves little room for God to speak into our hearts about how to love and care for others. When we focus on living out Christ’s attitude to those we interact with, they experience the love and respect they need. Take your eyes off your own needs and instead try to meet the needs of those around you.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Submitted by: Ed, Iowa