In previous segments of The Forgotten Intimacy we’ve discussed the first two elements of building Spiritual Intimacy, Prayer and Servanthood. The third element is — Connecting.
As I think back, there were three very significant decisions we’ve made as a couple.
The first key decision was finding a church that was vibrant, alive and relevant. The second, joining a couple’s bible study, a small group. And the third decision was serving in ministry together.
This Connecting component — Church, Group and Ministry — has grown our spiritual intimacy beyond our wildest expectations.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NLT)
This verse applies to our marriage in so many ways. When we tried to do our marriage alone without God and other Christians to hold us up, we failed miserably. If there is one piece of advice we can give any couple considering marriage, wondering about marriage, planning their marriage and who are currently married is: Don’t do marriage alone.
I know each one of us can come up with all kinds of excuses not to attend church. It’s not relevant, it’s boring, I can’t stand the music, and I’d rather stay in bed. Church attendance has to be a joint effort — you both need to be there. Look for a church that you both LOVE! The effort is worth it. Need help finding a church?
When a couple in deep weeds comes to us for advice we often ask, “When it the last time you were in church together?” They will look at each other, shrug their shoulders and tell us they don’t remember. When you are disconnected from your church family, you are disconnecting yourself from God and your marriage. It is not possible for you to grow as a couple or family without a firm foundation in a local church. I know this is true because it was very much the life Jim and I lived for the first ten years of our marriage. We didn’t attend church, ever. Not even on holidays. We had no place to go, no one to lean on, and no one to ask for help when our marriage started to crumble.
One of the best books I’ve read on community is John Ortberg’s, Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them.
John writes: “God created human beings because he was so in love with community that he wanted a world full of people to share it with. He wanted to invite all of us to dance with Him, Christ and the Spirit.”
John continues: “We all have a deep desire to connect. The yearning of our soul is to attach, connect, to love and be loved, is the fiercest longing of the soul. Our need for community with people and God is as essential as food and water. This need does not go away. It is a need that can be met through God and his church, God and his people.”
Small Group is the place where we found acceptance. It was a place where we studied the bible and discovered we could not do life alone. It was the first place where I realized Jim and I were not alone in our marriage struggles and challenges of raising godly children. Our church family fed us, paid our bills and prayed for us when we lost our jobs. They enveloped me with prayer, cards and phone calls when my mother passed away. I know it would have been extremely difficult to walk through these valleys of life without our group.
Group puts people in our lives that hold us accountable. They help us keep promises and encourage us to grow. We can’t do that on our own. Group is a place of safety, openness, and sharing. We need people to nudge us and sometimes give us a good swift kick when we’re taking the wrong path. Simply, we need others to walk beside us! We discovered group to be necessary to spiritual growth as a couple and as individuals.
Consider Christ’s ministry — He did not do life alone. He recruited twelve men in need of repair — His disciples. Twelve imperfect people like you and me. Christ still chose them to walk with Him until the very end. He desires the same type of community for us.
The third component of Connecting is Ministry or Serving Together.
Learn what your spiritual gifts are, then find a ministry that you love to do. It might be serving the poor, cleaning the church, teaching kids, helping in your local food pantry, and building homes for Habitat. What’s your passion as a couple? Jim and I love to volunteer at our church and serve as marriage mentors.
Discover what it means to serve God and others as a team. Your marriage will grow in immeasurable ways. You’ll be an upfront witness to the spiritual gifts God has given your spouse.
We’ve experienced the thrill of seeing God work through answered prayer and watching Him come through in the most difficult of circumstances. Our faith has grown, our love has grown and we’ve had the opportunity to share our love of Christ with many, many people.
Watching God use Jim’s evangelism gift has grown my faith in immense ways. Through Jim, I’ve grown to be a fully devoted follower of Christ, watching God work in the frontlines, even touching atheists and agnostics. It is something I would not have experienced if we weren’t serving together.
So honor the Lord and serve Him whole-heartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshipped. Serve the Lord alone. But if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve ? (Paraphrased) because it will be other Gods and idols, not our heavenly Father. Or you can continue to serve yourself and your own interest. But as for my family, and me we will serve the Lord. In Joshua 24:14 -15 (NLT)
Some questions to ask yourself…
- What excuses are keeping me from joining a church or a small group?
- Where could my spouse and I serve others together?
- Who can I call anytime of the day or night when I’m in crisis mode? Who prays for us daily?
How has Spiritual Intimacy changed my marriage?
- Our home is a safe place — a place of acceptance and love for our relationship, our children and our grandchildren.
- God is at the center of our relationship. He provides His healing resources of forgiveness and grace everyday.
- We now look at each other through God’s eyes instead of our own.
- We learned to stop hiding, which has given us a more fulfilling sex-life. Yeah God!
I pray the journey toward building Spiritual Intimacy into your marriage will be a risk worth taking.
This is the fifth and final article in a series on the Forgotten Intimacy.
Copyright © Sheri Mueller. Used with permission.
Sheri is the co-founder of Growthtrac, an online Christian marriage resource. Sheri is a pre-marriage mentor, has authored several marriage related articles, and teaches at marriage enrichment events.