Monday, October 05, 2009


I’m not sure who said this, but I usually give credit for all great family quotes to James Dobson. Here’s the gist. “The best way husbands can love their children is to love their wives.” Now, speaking as a wife, I think that’s fabulous advice! A loving couple in Roy’s first ministry position performed a heavenly adoption of our children and became Grandpa and Grandma Johnson on the first day we met them. Not because our kids were angels, mind you, but because this precious middle-aged couple knew their young associate pastor needed time to tend his marriage. They often took our girls for weekend vacations (like Emily's boat-ride with G-pa at left), leaving Roy and I time to catch our breath and actually look into each other’s eyes. Today, over fifteen years later, G-pa and G-ma J. are still an intricate part of our family. They made it possible for Roy and I to better love our children because we took the time to love each other well.

But here's a question for you. Are children the only priority-buster in a marriage relationship? What about those couples whose children have grown and gone, or couples whose lives are filled with blessings other than children? Lots of things in our world compete with our spouse’s rightful place after God in our hearts. Maintaining the husband/wife priority relationship remains a key to God’s blessing. It’s as true for us as it was for Abraham…

Gen. 17:15-16 – “God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’” (emphasis added)
  • The name “[Sarai] appears to be derived from the same [Hebrew] root as Israel…‘She that strives,’ a contentious person…”[1] I’m getting the impression that our lady Sarah might not have been easy to live with, and let’s face it. Relationships are hard. Marriage. Friendship. Sooner or later, in any long-term relationship, the person on the other end disappoints us. In this instance, God is elaborating on a twenty-five year-old promise and vows to change the very nature of Abraham’s wife in the process. Would your faith be big enough to believe that?

Gen. 17:17-18 – “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’”

  • I always thought Sarah was the first one to laugh at God’s promise, but it was Abraham who first laughed to himself. And then his audible response revealed a sad truth. In suggesting God give the promise to Ishmael, Abraham was taking away God’s promise to Sarah. Abraham would rather give it to the son of a slave than bless his first love with a son and kings. His heart had become attached to the here and now because of his disappointment in waiting for God’s best.

Gen. 17:19-22 – “Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.’ When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.” (emphasis added)

  • “Yes, but your wife Sarah…” God is reminding Abraham that it is his relationship with Sarah that must come first, that as Abraham is faithful in his marriage, God will work out His plan for BOTH of Abraham’s sons. Faithful tending of the vine reaps a plentiful harvest of fruit. This concept applies to more than just marriage relationships. It’s the core issue of our walk with Jesus as well.

Gen. 17:23-27 – “On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was thirteen; Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. And every male in Abraham's household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.”

  • Though Abraham could not pass down God’s Covenant Promise to Ishmael, father and son shared a moment of surrender and obedience on this day that Isaac would never know at his infant circumcision. Even when it seems God has removed a blessing, still He gives some precious gem to treasure – no matter how painful the circumstance – if we’re willing to seek it out.

Lord, keeping relationships in proper priority is difficult on so many levels. Time management. Heart management. Sanity management. They all seem to boil up in a cauldron of despair…until I get the most important relationship in place. Show me how to put You back into the #1 spot, the Throne of my heart. I want You there. I need You there.


1 comment:

Nancy said...

I needed that! Having a few little struggles in family relationships right now, coming from the stress of us moving away. Thanks.