|Linda and I did a 1-night getaway
in Ann Arbor this week.
On occasion, someone asks Linda and I what we do to mature in Christ and grow spiritually. And, we are asked about how we do marriage. We are far from perfect, yet we love what God has done in our life together. How has this happened?
One answer I give is to share something I call the wheel of my spiritual life. It looks like this.
First, Linda and I spend alone time with God. I call this my "Very Small Group." Just me and God. I have written about this in my book Praying. We do this week after week after week after year after decade... for over forty-five years. Just as it was Jesus' custom to get alone and meet with the Father, it is ours as well. Our lives, and our marriage, would suffer greatly if we did not do this.
Second, Linda and I meet in a small group of Jesus-followers, every week. We were in a Small Group before we met. We have been in a small group for every week of every month of every year for forty-four and a half years. Much of our spiritual learning and growth is a result of small group koinonia ("fellowship"). How beautiful, how energizing, how course-correcting, to meet weekly with fellow believers who love studying the Word of God and praying for each other! Without this, we are certain we would lead spiritually diminished lives.
Third, we meet every Sunday morning when the church gathers. This is the Large Group. We have a 99% church attendance record, over a period of forty five years. We did this years before I became a pastor. And, being a pastor has not changed our love for Sunday mornings. We understand the meaning and purpose of Hebrews 10:25, which reads: Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. We understand that Jesus did not come to develop isolated individuals, but a community of believers called "Church." We are fully committed to this. We believe the many biblical "one anothers" make no sense apart from this. Our marriage would today be severely impoverished had we not done this.
Fourth, we bring Jesus to the world around us, as a couple. We are a two-person missions team. We love ministering together! There are few things greater in life than being used by God, and led by the Spirit, into the lives of others. We often talk about and remember the many people God has led us to, outside the walls of the church building. This, as we understand things, is the "togetherness" that makes all the difference in our marriage; viz., united in our life purpose and committed to achieving the same spiritual goals. Our life purpose is greater than our marriage.
This is what we have done, and continue to do. Without these things, we would have not come this far. Having come this far, we have not yet fully arrived. In our marriage, these four things go round and round, rolling forward on the road of life God has for us.
1. We have individual praying lives.
2. We are in a small group that meets weekly to study God's Word and pray.
3. We are with the church when it gathers, every Sunday.
4. We bring the Gospel of Jesus and his kingdom into the surrounding culture and the world.
My new book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.