Message from the Back Burner

   Suppose you leave a pot of beans on the back burner, unattended? What happens? That’s right. Burnt offerings!

Next week, my husband and I will have been married 53 years! How’d we do it? I have only one conceivable answer—God’s grace. I don’t know how two very different people survive marriage a year. But fifty? It has to be one of God’s greatest miracles. 

No, I wasn’t 12 when we married. But I was very young. And I knew absolutely nothing about marriage, much less cooking. How hard could it be? Doesn’t marital bliss and culinary skill come by osmosis through the wedding band? No? You could have fooled me.

That is, until my soon-to-be husband visited at my mother’s house. One morning, I fried eggs for him and broke the yellow. I never knew people were particular about that kind of thing. Can you believe Jay wouldn’t eat them because they weren’t perfect? I know; we should have heeded the wake-up call right then. Did we rush off to marriage counseling? No, and all he did was sit there bewildered as to why I was crying. 

But we were in love. So we made up and plunged ahead into marriage. And here we are, a lifetime later. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about marriage through trial and error. However, we’re still learning the back burner lesson.

Consider what happens when we place our spouse on the back burner. Neglect can easily lead to superficiality, isolation and a not so cold war. As newlyweds, we argued about how we squeezed the toothpaste tube. Back then, it was an understandable dispute, kind of cute. Two young marrieds learning to adjust to one another’s idiosyncrasies.  We’ve told the story and laughed about it many times over the years.

True confession: A few months ago, my husband and I had a word-slinging, shouting, down-right mean argument. Over what? The toothpaste tube!

We’d been sharing with a single friend about the early years of our marriage. (By the way, in spite of us, she still got married.) We were joking about the toothpaste dilemma. And then Jay commented that I still squeeze the tube from the top. Of course, he inferred, we no longer let it cause a problem. I was livid! Wrong, you turkey, I thought. It’s a much bigger problem now.

When we became Christians, we both wanted to have a Christ-centered marriage. We sincerely looked for ways to please each other rather than to allow self to rule. So, I began to carefully squeeze the toothpaste tube as neatly as possible. I’ve been consciously doing this for over forty years!

After our friend left, I decided I needed to confront my husband. That’s when Venus and Mars went to war. I couldn’t understand how he hadn’t seen the fruit of my efforts. And he couldn’t understand how I could make it such a big deal. We both became so angry, there seemed to be no cease-fire in sight.

Fortunately, my husband loves me enough not to allow us to stay angry with one another. He took responsibility for his part and asked for my forgiveness, as well as God’s. But it’s always difficult for me to let go of hurt feelings. I wanted to be right with God and with my husband. But it usually takes a while for my emotions to catch up with my will. At times like these, the only thing I know to do is to pray for God to create in me a clean heart and renew my spirit. (Psalm 50:10) And He always does!

What happens when we allow our relationship with God to go unattended? What can cause us to put God on the back burner of our lives? Busyness? Distractions? Misplaced priorities? Etc. etc. etc. And then we wonder why we’re frustrated, worried and/or quick-tempered.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” and to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Life is a marathon that requires focus, freedom and persistence. God may allow us to keep Him on the back burner for a while. But our Lord loves us too much to stay there indefinitely.

One way or the other, God will get our attention. He may use a proverbial 2×4, but more often He communicates with us in a still, small voice. If we make it a habit of not listening, we become dull of hearing. Dull hearing leads to a dull conscience. And a dulled conscience leads to our ignoring those pesky little sins that damage our fellowship with God and one another. It’s called quenching the Holy Spirit.

I’ve discovered a step by step walk with God works much better than a periodic hop, skip and a scramble to catch up. When we consistently walk with God, we won’t lose our way. And we’ll never walk alone. Why? Because we’ll actually enjoy His company. When we enjoy His presence, we’ll be less likely to place Him on the back burner. Come to think of it, the same thing is true concerning our spouses. And that’s a good thing!

                                                                           

(How do we form the habit of walking with God? Check out the Crumbs section for Five Steps to a Consistent Walk with God.)

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Comments
4 Responses to “Message from the Back Burner”
  1. Sharon Wilson says:

    Happy 50th Anniversary, Liz and Jay! That’s fantastic! I hope there’s a big celebration planned. JB and I are celebrating our 33rd anniversary tomorrow. It makes me laugh to think that we got married on “Labor Day” weekend that year . . . believe me, I had no idea how much labor would be involved! : ) But, by the grace of the Lord, we’re still here, and grateful for it. I really enjoyed your post this week. Keep ’em comin!

    Sharon

  2. Harriett Salley says:

    I solved that problem by getting us seperate tooth paste tube

    Bruce

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