Spring is in full swing and its time to take down the dead trees and plant new growth. This reminds me of my first experience of bringing down a tree. I caught a firsthand glimpse of what it takes to be a lumberjack early in our marriage when Dan and I found ourselves with a dead oak tree about one-hundred feet tall, weighing in at around a thousand pounds. It was a true Goliath! Sadly, there was no money in the budget to hire a professional and we were too naive to know better.
Determined to conquer it ourselves, we gathered a chain saw and a three stranded rope. It wasn’t until I saw the rope that I got a little concerned. Dan brought out this small, thin, white rope about the size of my ring finger. He assured me it would work since the package stated the amount of weight it could bear before breaking was less than the weight of our tree. Basically all that stood between us and disaster was the strength of a three stranded rope and true grit. Dan did the cutting (I had no idea how to run a chain saw) and I did the tugging. Hours later, reality set in as Dan yelled timber and I saw that massive tree falling towards me. I'm not sure what I expected, after all I had been tugging and coaxing it in my direction all afternoon. Suddenly, I found myself sprinting for my life as it came crashing to the ground.
In the midst of all the chaos, I learned some valuable lessons that day, First, I learned to hire a professional tree service next time. Second, I learned that the strength of a three-stranded rope far exceeds human logic. Third, I realized that unwavering determination and the right rope can empower a married couple to conquer any giant. Conquering giants is exhilarating. .
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. (But) a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (NIV)
At the creation of marriage, God knew if Adam stood alone in the Garden of Eden, he could be overpowered. With woman by his side, they could defend themselves but still loose a battle. With the third strand of God's love intertwined in their covenant, their bond could never be broken by the giants they would face in their lives. Unfortunately, they failed to understand God's plan. God longed to be the tie to bind Adam and Eve’s hearts together, but when Satan slithered into the garden and wrapped himself around a tree in their midst, the presence of a fourth strand in the human relationship was added. That's when everything began to unravel. Instead of them walking away and clinging to the strand of God's perfect love, they allowed the enemy to intertwine himself into their story. Thanks to the fourth member in their marriage, we've faced chaos and war torn castles in our own love stories ever since.
Later in the Old Testament, there was another special couple and eventually Jesus came through their family bloodline. When God first appeared to them they were known as Abram and Sarai. He later changed their names to Abraham and Sarah when he entered into a covenant with them regarding their future. As they grew older in age, unable to have children, God had seen Abraham’s faithfulness and stepped into their story one starry night making them a promise to give them a son whose descendants would out number the stars. They clung to the promise for a while but grew weary of the waiting. They began to doubt God and the promise he made. Believing the situation to be hopeless, Sarah gave up. In her weakness, she pushed Abraham to sleep with her maidservant Hagar so she could bear him a son. Nine months later, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. Their decision to put their own plan in place has had detrimental consequences throughout history. They wove the fourth strand into their covenant, creating chaos in their castle where the descendants of Abraham's two sons have been at war ever since.
Rope-making dates back to the Egyptians in 4000 BC? Even though technology and materials might have changed, the way ropes are made has changed very little. The three stranded rope is how the Egyptians provided means for the Israelite slaves to move 2.5 ton stones to build the great pyramids. Even on U.S. Navy ships, where rope is used from the smallest to largest of tasks to win at war, they still use three stranded ropes. The Navy Cadet Handbook states their massive ropes are made up of smaller three stranded ropes woven together in multiples of three to make larger ones. In human logic it would seem the more strands the stronger the rope, but the Navy handbook states the fourth strand actually weakens the rope. Studies have shown that a two stranded rope breaks too easily and a rope made of four strands is compromised over all. The scripture in Ecclesiastes has scientific proof!
Here's the great news. We can remove the extra strand in our lives by renewing our minds and asking the Lord to cut the cords that bind anything in our hearts other than Him. If you're up for some spring cleaning, it's a season to reassess our relationship with our spouse and bring down the giants in our midst by asking ourselves these questions:
1. Is there a fourth presence in our marriage relationship that shouldn't be there?
2. Is there a parent, friend, or extended family member involved in our relationship? If so, are they interjecting their opinion into our marriage?
3. Is there a job, activity, or even a ministry that is wrapping itself around my heart or mind distracting me from our marriage covenant?
4. Are our children at the top of the list of priorities in our home instead of our marriage?
If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions, the solutions are found in God's word. First, admit the truth to yourself and your spouse and ask for forgiveness making a commitment to removing the fourth strand and holding each other accountable. Then go back to creation and put things in the proper order based on God's design. He was very specific when he created the universe and in what order things should be placed. Initially, he created man to be in relationship with him. Start by putting your personal relationship with the Father first place every morning through prayer, worship, and his word. Next, God created marriage between husband and wife, so place your marriage in the second position on your list of priorities. Renew your mind daily on why you fell in love and what you love about each other. Find ways to stay connected by texting or emailing each other an encouraging note daily. Pray together at least one time a day. Go on a date night without your children at least once a week or once every other week. Get away for one night overnight or stay at home without your children overnight once a month.
Next, in line of priorities is your children. Believe it or not, children do much better in every area of their life, including obedience and school, when they see two parents who love one another and make their relationship a priority keeping their roles in order. They may try to divide and conquer out of their sinful nature, but they should never be allowed to win that battle. Show them what a strand of three between you and your knight in shining armor, with God wrapped around your relationship, looks like if you want them to thrive. Next, assess your career. Work hard during work hours but keep clear boundaries when the day is done. Don't bring your work or ministry home unless you have no other choice. When the sun goes down, have some family fun.
It's never too late to re-fortify your marriage by following this plan and tightening up the three strands in your home. God’s design and protection as the strand of three in a relationship of two has always been the planned fortress around the marriage covenant. If we’re going to succeed at marriage, we have to realize how important it is to make sure Christ is the tie that binds us together. He has to be woven into every area of our partnership, at the center of our hearts, and intertwined into our bond according to divine design. There's no greater strength to conquer and bring down the giants in your kingdom than a strand of three with you, your knight in shining armor, and the King of all Kings woven together as one mighty strand.
Do you want to live in a war-torn castle or a peaceful palace?
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