That little book slaughtered my sinful soul.
Recently, I had the privilege to meet CJ Mahaney. He dined at Mitchell’s Fish Market, the restaurant where I work, on February 10, 2011 and I was able to serve his table. About two weeks later I received a stack of books in the mail from Mr. Mahaney with a note indicating that he hoped that they would be useful for my life and ministry. I was unbelievably excited (who wouldn’t be, they were free books!); since I wanted a break from studying from my classes at SBTS I picked up one of the books that he sent me that I had not yet read, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God (SRGG), and left to go exercise, I had no idea what I was about to read.
After I finished reading page 104, I remember thinking to myself a plethora of thoughts, “I need to enjoy my wife and the life that the Lord has given me in Christ. I need to take myself less seriously. The Lord really wants me to honor him by joyfully loving my wife and family. God wants Meghan and me to not only have a robust theology of marriage but also a romantic and joyful life of intimacy as we endeavor to picture the Christ-church union in our marriage and the key to that kind of intimacy is touching her heart and mind before I touch her body.”
Through that book and some serious soul work the Lord revealed to me that I am a husband struggling with forbearance toward my wife (to be honest, for sometime he has been using Eph 5:25-33; Col 3:19; 1Pt 3:7 to bring me under scriptural conviction). He also has revealed to me that I am becoming a man who has stopped pursuing the heart and affections of my bride. He revealed to me that I am far too often a self-absorbed man driven by the calling to preach and to pastor, so much so that I am not actively and intentionally romancing my wife. Though it is a good and noble desire to pursue such a calling (1Tim 3:1), I am often blinded and forget that the Lord has entrusted me with a wife and child, both of whom I am to care for or I am worse than an unbeliever (1Tim 5:8) and unqualified for gospel ministry (1Tim 3:5).
That said, I have been warring with this for some time.
Crushed, I asked the Lord and Meghan for forgiveness and have been actively repenting since. I want my wife to know that there is no one other than Christ who rivals her; that no dream will eclipse her (not even the aspiration to pastor). Now, I am trying to find creative ways to let her know that I love her and that I am thankful for her.
Here are some of the thoughts that I jotted down after reading SRGG to reflect on:
1) Meditate on Eph 5:25-33; Col 3:19; 1Pt 3:7 as a way to remember that Meghan is my lover, bride, best friend, cherished companion, and fellow heir of the grace of life.
2) Remember that the way that I love Meghan publically, especially before our children, will have eternal ramifications for the gospel – I am leaving a legacy whether I know it or not.
3) The fact that we will both die should motivate me to love Meghan more lavishly and more passionately. Therefore, considering that our life is but a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14), endeavor to ask for forgiveness from God and Meghan whenever I sin against her in word or deed; labor to live a joyful life with no regrets, regardless of our financial means, so that I do not stand over her casket one day and think, “If only I would have spent more time showing and telling Meghan how much I love her.”
4) Carefully compose spontaneous sayings and poetic words that communicate my appreciation, affections, and passion for Meghan in a way that is meaningful for her.
5) Occasionally write Meghan letters as a way to try and express my love and deep affections for her with words.
6) Study Meghan so that I can randomly surprise her with her a favorite snack, a desired book, a new piece of clothing, a dinner for two, etc.
7) If possible plan a yearly vacation/getaway so that we can have unhurried and undistracted time as we labor to invest in one another and cultivate an intimate and romantic lifestyle as a married couple who cherishes each other.
8) Try to establish a weekly or biweekly date night as a way to focus on one another and cultivate romance in our marriage.
9) Try to call Meghan at least once a day while at work or at school to see how she is doing and to let her know that I love her.
10) Have family worship at least 4-5 times a week with Meghan and Abigail as a way to cultivate spiritual intimacy in our marriage.
If you haven’t read Mahaney’s book, I would encourage you to read it (especially if you are a married man or an engaged man or a man who ever hopes to marry a woman!). The wife’s counterpart to this book is Carolyn Mahaney’s “Feminine Appeal”.