Spring in Japan is the beginning of the “Wedding Season.” From February through May I will have performed somewhere in the area of about 60 weddings, the most being as many as 4 or 5 in a day. The wonderful thing about this is that probably 95 percent of the people who attend the ceremonies in the wedding chapel have never set foot in a church before. They sing in unison the old hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” they hear the Word of God preached in a mini-message, they sing “A-men,” they reverently sing the doxology and stand in the Presence of God as the Groom & Bride are pronounced husband and wife in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Side note: Opposite of western weddings, traditionally in Japan the Groom is always mentioned first. It is his side of the family who pays for the entire wedding and the huge banquet that follows.)
Using the Word of God from the first three pages of Genesis, in five to seven minutes people are taught that marriage was/is God’s plan. It is in the marriage that He desires to dwell. In talking about two being better than one, the Preacher says, “A threefold cord is not quickly (or easily) broken.” When two go at it alone and problems arise, without God being in the middle, the marriage can unexpectedly unravel. That’s why the marriage vows are so important! When the going gets rough, if God is in the middle, a couple WILL make it through the storm, but if He isn’t, then a marriage can end up in shipwreck. It’s no secret that marriages around the world are falling apart, no matter if a couple lives in a metropolis of millions like Tokyo or a tiny village in a faraway place. So many of marriages are without God! The Chinese character for “temple or shrine” (the dwelling place of God) shows God overshadowing a unified husband and wife (the three-fold cord). God made marriage a dwelling place for His presence. So then, why this trend of marriage breakups?
The simple answer is because people generally only think of themselves (the big me, myself and I). Remember the Golden Rule? Jesus is the author of that rule! and when rules are broken, penalties have to be paid. “Here’s a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for THEM.” (Luke 6:31 The Message) And right after that Jesus says, “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back–given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way.” Marriage was never intended by God to be what many call “give and take.” NO, NO! It’s give and receive! The final sentence of the pronouncement says, “For what God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” Man can be his own worst enemy: the big me, myself and I.
God gave Adam two responsibilities when He placed him in the Garden of Eden: till it and protect it! Marriage should be a paradise, a fruitful garden all the time. Husbands must till it so it won’t get hard and dry. They can do it by using the hoe of affection, adding the fertilizer of praise, the warmth of love, and watering it daily with leadership qualities. He does these things not thinking of himself, but of his wife and family. Any wife will cheerfully follow this kind of husband, “whithersoever he goeth.”
Thirty years ago next week (March 20) Andrea and I were married. We repeated the wedding vows in the presence of God and about 300 guests. I sang to Andrea as she entered the sanctuary with her father: “Andrea, I love you, I love you!” — and I still do! In our 30 years together we’ve experienced the better, the worse, the sickness, the health, having money and no money. And you know what? God has been there with us all the time, strengthening us and holding us up. He has made our marriage a three-fold cord, and we’re more in love today than when we were first married!
Now, you married folks, why not give your spouse a big hug and kiss this weekend and thank God for them?