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The Narrow Road

I believe most women truly desire to respect their husbands. And most men want to be honored and respected by their wives. So why do we as women sometimes become controlling, or worse yet, critical of our husbands?

Perhaps you’ve struggled with this tension in your marriage. I think we’d agree that honor in the marriage relationship is a good thing.  And deep down inside we instinctively know that it just plain feels right to respect our husbands—to believe the best about them.

In Genesis 2:18, God created us to be our husband’s helper, or ezer, a source of rock-like strength and support. But we can also choose to use that strength to work against our husband, robbing him of strength and confidence.

I’ve wondered whether we’ve lost sight of the importance of respect?  Perhaps a lack of honor could be at the core of many divorces.

Honor doesn’t just happen. It goes against the grain of our culture.  Disrespect, on the other hand, takes very little energy. It’s the path of least resistance. Honor is a narrow road.  It requires strength and intentionality.

Dare to take the first step by honoring your husband even before he honors you.

I’ve never forgotten this tidbit of common-sense wisdom from a dear friend who had been married over sixty years.  It went something like this:  “Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.”  The same could be said of honor.  Don’t be afraid to be the one who honors the most.

 


Ordinary Hero

Sometimes you find heroes in the most unlikely places.  I’m referring to those ordinary dads who are quietly living faithful lives—in my eyes, they’e the real heroes.

A while back, we traveled to our nation’s capital.  David and I met with influential men and women who are faithfully serving our country. We toured  the capitol building, awed by the courageous faith of our Founding Fathers. Their names are written in history—their impact will last for generations.

But for me, the real hero showed up—of all places—in a taxi cab. Our driver was a gentle, friendly man with an east African accent. He talked about his 33 years driving a cab.

His three kids had all graduated from fine colleges, he boasted, with that dad-kind-of-pride.  All had prestigious jobs working in DC.

“You must have done some pretty good parenting,” I commented. “What’s your secret?” “My secret,” he laughed, “is America.” “In America, if you’re willing to work hard, you can reach your dream.”

“There are some who might disagree,” I replied.  “Hmmm,” he paused. “They have never lived in another country.”  He had fled the severe persecution of Christians in Eritrea.  I noticed the prominent cross on his dashboard. “People here don’t know what it’s like to not have freedom,” he said quietly.

When he was a much younger man, he had been educated as an accountant back in Eritea.  But since coming to America, he had worked as a cab driver.  Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.  He was well past his prime.

“We have very smart kids,” He smiled. “They call every weekend and want to come see us.” They say, “Mom, what are you cooking?” “Yes, I am a blessed man, indeed.”

I knew we’d been with a true hero that day.  And a man of honor.


Secret Strength

A young mom recently asked me if there was anything I’d do differently if I were just starting out in my marriage. She wanted to build a lasting foundation and was looking for practical tips.  I loved her heart.  Thinking back over forty years of marriage,  I responded that I’d be even more intentional about abiding in Christ.  I’ve come to believe that abiding—or nurturing a daily connection with the Lord—is the secret to lasting strength in marriage.

Her question reminded me of a comment my husband David once made. “I really like it that you’re not needy,” he confided.  “I can tell you’re not looking to me for your identity. Because of your relationship with the Lord, you come to our marriage with a full cup. I know you’re not going to drain me dry,” he smiled.  I’m somewhat surprised that his comment sticks out in my mind all these years later.

I’ve thought further about what he said, because here’s the thing.  David knows my weaknesses better than anyone.  He has walked me through more fears and more tears than I can count.  And yet, he still considers me strong. Perhaps he sees strength in me that I don’t even see in myself. The strength that comes from my relationship with Jesus.

Abiding in Christ is not some magic pill you swallow and then, “Bam, you’re in!”  No, it’s a daily process carved out bit by bit.  One foot in front of the other.  Even on days I don’t feel like it.  Especially on days when I don’t feel like it.

So in a sense, the call to be a strong helper, an ezer, in my marriage is a call to a daily walk with Christ.  It’s saying yes when Jesus calls to me to follow Him. And yes to abiding.

 

*from Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband,  Marilynn Chadwick, Harvest House.


Training Wheels

Honor is not a subject you hear much about these days. If anything, we’ve become much more accustomed to disrespect and dishonor. The urban slang for disrespect, or “dis,” has made its way into everyday language. Most anyone can tell you what it means to “dis” someone. Or worse, to be “dissed.”

Honor.  Simply put, the word means to treat someone with respect or admiration.  It has to do with qualities like honesty, integrity and dignity. The biblical version of honor is much weightier. Lofty.  It speaks to the precious worth of the person being honored and is related to words like glory, worship or prize.

Most of us yearn to be treated with respect. We benefit not only from receiving honor but also from giving it to others.

God set the bar low so that even a child can show honor.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2,3).  You could call this the “the training wheels of honor” (Exodus 20:12).

When children honor their earthly parents, they begin to grasp what it means to honor their heavenly Father.

Perhaps it’s time to recapture this age-old virtue. We can start by honoring God.  But let’s do so with a sense of expectancy. For God Himself makes this bold promise: “Those who honor me, I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).


Are You an Ezer?

Everything God created was good. But He looked at Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Something was missing.  So God said: “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

God created woman from the very stuff of man—his same substance: “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs …Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man…” (Genesis 2:20-24).

Marriage was God’s gift to humans. Eve was Adams’s companion, but the Bible also calls her his helper. In Hebrew, “helper,” or ezer means “to support.”  It’s a combination of two roots: “to rescue, to save,” and “to be strong.”  Ezer is a powerful word.  In fact, in the Bible,  it most often refers to Almighty God as our helper, usually in times of danger or battle.

When you grasp what it means to be an ezer, you begin to get an image of woman as a rock, not a doormat. Your challenge is to become strong so that you are a source of strength for a husband who will sometimes be weak.

I’ve learned that an important part of showing honor to a strong husband like David is to be his “rock of support” when everything around him feels like it’s crashing down.

Think about what it means to be strong like a “rock” for our husbands, families, and communities. Lord knows we need more women who are willing to live strong as ezers in this hurting and broken world.