“Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9
I was at a night of blessing for Randy Eilders Friday, a young pastor who recently completed an internship at our church and is getting married in about five weeks.
About 45 men were there to pray with him and encourage him. And one of the recurring themes was the importance of spending times with our wives.
Our associate pastor, Rob Stewart, has just been married one year. He said that the discipline of making Monday “Lindy Day” had been more rewarding than he could have expected.
He works Sunday, of course. But on Monday they just make time to be together. She is happy when he does this.
And he can tell she is not happy when he doesn’t. Not in any mean, self centered way, of course. They are newlyweds after all. But when he makes other plans he sees an almost imperceptible shadow on her face.
This is very wise man. And he encouraged Randy, who is also a pastor, to make a time like this, especially in his first year of marriage.
Creating such times early in marriage is the most common advice I give young men. I urge them to make it a pattern of their lives. Such time has to be scheduled. And quite frankly it has to be sanctified. Set apart. Holy.
To set such time aside is to create a sanctuary. It is to create a sacred space we treasure and desire. Even after 38 years of marriage, I want it as much as I did before we were married.
But for me, and for most of us, after just a few years of marriage it had disappeared into our careers and children. Or worse into the shadow of the Fall. We both learned to push each others buttons, to avoid troublesome conversations, to protect ourselves from jokes and comments that wound our hearts.
And this with someone I could not have imagined keeping secrets from just days before our wedding. Nor could I have imagined hurting her as much as I often did. Or sometimes do.
The trip back to the garden of delight is always a trip back to sanctuary. We find our way back to a safe place where we can be vulnerable and unafraid, back to the place where we can be naked and not ashamed.
I don’t think any man who claws his way back to this refuge will regret it. He will find, most likely, a woman wiser than the one he married. I did. As Proverbs says, “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”
And on Katie’s birthday tomorrow (Sunday) I am more grateful for her love than for any earthly treasure. I remain grateful for the time we make each day to share our lives together and to rest in the providence of God.
No man needs a castle when he has a sanctuary.