Pastor John is on a writing leave right now, writing his next book. We will have more on that in the near future. But for the next several episodes we are joined by our good friend Ray Ortlund, who is an author and the senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
Today, I want to talk about marriage, because, Ray, I have been following you on Twitter and Instagram online for a few years, and one thing that strikes me is the beautiful, happy marriage you enjoy with your wife, Janni. It is sweet. So I want to start with the question I am most eager to ask you: Speaking especially to guys, what is the secret to a long and sweet marriage?
Well, I think immediately of Proverbs 5:18, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” I am struck by that, because it doesn’t say, “Rejoice in your young wife.” That is biblical too. Deuteronomy 24:5 says, “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife.” That sounds like a really wonderful year. But “rejoice in the wife of your youth,” that lasts throughout a lifetime, even until old age.
Rejoice in Her
The wife of my youth will always be, however long we live, that girl I fell in love with starting September 12, 1968 just outside the south entrance to Centennial Gym on the campus of Wheaton College. And in the intervening years, now 43 years, which have flown by, nothing important has changed. She is still that girl who gave herself to me on our wedding day. She literally put herself in my arms. She could not have been more trusting. She could not have honored me any more than she did.
And Proverbs 5:18 is calling me to remember that and dwell on that privilege of falling in love with her, being entrusted by God with this precious girl, dwelling on that, marveling at that, rejoicing in that.
Back to the Beginning
So I would say in answer to your question, Tony, to any married man who is listening, I would ask, “What made you fall in love with your wife at the start?” Something really wonderful happened there. Falling in love is one of the great privileges of human existence. It is truly of God. Go back to that.
And, of course, much has happened through the years. But if you still have that girl, she counts for more than all the troubles of this life. And the years take a toll, of course. But she will always be that girl that you fell in love with. So marvel at what God gave you, and think of how God has blessed you through her, and let your heart melt all over again.
God is inviting us, I think, through Proverbs 5:18, he is inviting every married man, into a lifetime of careful, thoughtful, intentional rejoicing as long as we both shall live.