2019: Appreciate the Warning
In 1986, Jody and I were living in a tiny apartment named Eastgate Landing Luxury Apartments. We had been married about 6 months. I don’t remember the apartment being luxurious, but we were very happy. Today’s story is about a rare night in south Alabama when the temperatures dropped below freezing. As I was shopping for dinner that night after work an idea popped in my head. Let’s have a fire tonight after dinner, how romantic, right? I had just passed a display of Duraflame logs, a new item, that sparked this romantic notion. I would buy a Duraflame log - and surprise my new hubby. How pleased he would be as we basked in the flickering light of a fire. I found the log, purchased it and some items to make spaghetti. The evening was shaping up nicely. There was one problem – only one, but it was a big one … we had no fireplace. The log package had no warning or recommendation to put the log in a fireplace. So, I assumed it was fake fire - just a glow. Silly, silly girl! When I got home, I laid the log in the corner of the apartment, on top of the beige shag carpeting and went about making dinner. Since I am a smidge afraid of fire and not good at lighting matches, I didn’t light the log. I decided I’d let Jody do the honors. That fear of matches has served me well through the years 😅.
When Jody walked in after a long day of Army stuff, he quickly spotted the log laying on the carpet, and went pale. He questioned why we had a Duraflame log. I quickly stated my intentions. Jody, being a careful and cautious man, freaked out. He asked what I was thinking. I explained my romantic evening plans and he went from pale to ashen. At that moment, I guess, he realized the lifetime of trouble I was to be. I explained that I had read the packaging - no warning about a need for a fireplace. In the moment I thought he was over reacting. Our romantic evening went down hill fast as he explained the principles of fire. We hardly spoke over dinner. He would periodically look at me and say “Seriously?” over and over again while slapping his forehead with his hand.
Today there is a warning label on each and every Duraflame log – I always check when I walk by the display. The warning is comforting. It confirms that I must not be the only ninny in this world 😂. The obvious problem is that someone didn’t have the benefit of being afraid of matches. I wonder if she also lived in a luxury apartment! Poor girl!
There is a reason we have warnings on products -– to keep us safe. There is a reason why God warns us in His word of potential pitfalls and problems too. He doesn’t want us to burn up! Literally. There are about 50 of these warning verses in the Bible. I call them the “Oh No, Woe” verses. The warnings would not be necessary if it were not for our sin nature to do them. Since God knows us, He specifically warns us about staying in sin (Jeremiah 13:27), greed and love of wealth (Luke 6:24), disobedience (Isaiah 30:1-2), spreading false gospel (Jeremiah 23:1-2) and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:27) … to name just a few.
As you begin 2019, consider one of God’s warnings and how it may apply to your marriage moving forward. I think it may make the difference in how you react to your spouse’s shortcomings. It may also make the difference with problems you are facing and impact what resolutions you set for yourself this year. The verse is Isaiah 45:9 – “Woe to the one who quarrels with His maker – an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ’What are you doing?’”
Your immediate response may be that this warning doesn’t apply to me, but I would challenge you to consider some of the words you speak in prayer.
Sisters, if I were to be honest, I have prayed more times than I can count, “God, please make me skinny.” In that silly prayer I have basically called God’s handiwork in making me unpleasing. Now don’t get all bent out of shape. I have responsibility for what I put in my body, but I don’t have responsibility for my make-up. My people are not skinny people – we were built to endure the test of time. Instead of complaining that I am big boned, I need to say, “God loves me, He made me perfectly!” Then I must actually believe it. I must look at my Potter and say thank you that I have “big bones” and am not a weak sister, but that I can work all day if I need to. I don’t need to make a New Year’s Resolution out of this and fret all year about being “skinny.” But I do need to be the healthiest version of God’s design for me. I don’t need to quarrel with Him on my metabolism, gene pool, etc. I need to realize God’s purpose and plan for my life and embrace it. I can cook. I hear skinny women can’t 😊. Maybe that is why God has blessed me with a healthy mass, shall we say. I’ll take it. I love to serve and feed others. I love to care for my brothers and sisters in Christ. If He had made me differently, maybe I wouldn’t be able to do this part of my service. I don’t know God’s plan, but I do know it is for my own good. I know God loves me – I bear His image (Genesis 1:27). Let that sink in. You and I are made in the image of God. Big bones and all! Now you may be naturally thin, but is the shape of your nose, the size of your feet or a learning disability that bothered you throughout school that you quarrel with God about. Whatever it is, accept it. God is large and in charge! Don’t just say, “God loves me.” Actually, believe He does and praise Him for making you just the way you are. I am thankful that God made you and me according to His plan and not ours.
A common prayer I hear sisters pray concerning marriage is, “Change my spouse.” Sisters share with me desires for their spouse to be different than he is. One husband works too much, one is bad at caring for their preschoolers, one is not helpful around the house, one is too laid back, one is insecure, and one is an introvert. Once again, these prayers are kind of like my “skinny desire.” Have you ever considered that the very thing that irritates you about your spouse is what God purposefully put inside him so that God could be glorified and so that in your weakness He could use this for your sanctification? Interesting thought, huh? Sometimes I look at Jody and I and think, “God couldn’t have had a greater sense of humor when he put us together.” Jody is an introvert and naturally more reserved. Me, well, consider the Duraflame log – I’m a hot mess! I’m sure Jody has prayed, “God, make my wife more sensible.” And I personally think God smiles and thinks, “No, I’m growing compassion in you my child for the foolish 😊 and I’m increasing your tolerance for my people so that I can use you.” That is a little tongue in cheek, but you get my point.
Consider the Amplified Bible version of today’s verse: “Woe (judgement is coming) to him who quarrels with his Master. A (worthless) piece of broken pottery among other broken pieces (equally worthless)! Shall the clay say to the potter, ’What are you doing (Isaiah 45:9)?’” This is a picture of you and your spouse – both broken. Consider that you two are broken so God can be glorified in your relationship. God uses the least, the last, the unimportant. Why? Because at the end of the day, the glory is all His. If you and your spouse were perfect, what role would the Holy Spirit have in your marriage? Don’t just see the problem, see how big GOD is in the midst of it and praise Him for it! And stop comparing your spouse to other’s spouses – all are “equally worthless” or broken! Don’t trade in your spouse, work through the issues and allow God to do His work on your heart!
Novel thought: What if your New Year’s resolution was simply this: “May I give you praise in all circumstances. With my heart, soul and mind may I truly believe you love me. And God, may I see each trial in my marriage as a chance for You to be glorified.”
Happy New Year, my friends! Go curl up with your spouse in front of a warm fire … so long as you have a fireplace. Otherwise, just imagine it and put the Duraflame down! Keep reading, friends.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).”
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1).”
“How precious is your unfailing love, O God (Psalms 36:7)!”