I heard about a young couple that got married a number of years ago. They had a ceremony and they spent their wedding night together. Awesome. In the morning—when the sun came up—the man discovered that she was the wrong woman. Not awesome! You can find the story in Genesis 29.
This is one of my favorite topics. There have been a lot of couples since then who concluded that they married the wrong person—though none quite as dramatic as this. The truth is however, the problem in our marriages is not our spouse. It is the unresolved things that we bring into our marriages.
If you have an area where sin has been allowed in your life and you haven’t dealt with it, you will eventually close your heart to God and to intimacy with another person. Truth will begin to shut down in your life. All of a sudden, lies will begin to build inside on the basis of those strongholds, and you will slowly find yourself distant from God and distant from those you thought you loved. The word of God will close in your heart, and you will wonder “What is happening to my heart. What is happening to my life?”
Your spouse may look at you and say “Why don’t you care any more about spiritual things? Why don’t you care about me?” The reason is that when you are distant from God you will immediately distance yourself from others. If God is not allowed in your heart, neither will you allow others to see those hidden closets that you protect.
Jesus very wisely said that when you take something out of the human heart, you must put something better back in there, or seven worse things will come in (Luke 11:24-26). Some of you are working through issues in your life, and some of you are thinking it over. Some of you concluded that you married the wrong person three years after you were married, some of you decided that after twenty years. And some of you are wondering, “How do you get genuine emotional intimacy with your spouse? It sounds good, but how do we get there?”
First off, God desires an intimate relationship with you. From the very first “Adam where are you?” to the Second Coming, God wants to be with you. In Jesus, He said it over and over again, especially the week before His crucifixion. On the way into town that week, there was a big parade. They didn’t have banners in those days so they are waving palm branches and cheering. (Some people’s weddings are like this. Lots of food, fanfare and proverbial palm branches.)
Here’s a man riding on a young donkey, and the crowd is paving the road before Him with their coats. It’s quite a parade. But just as He reaches the top of the mountain, He does something strange. He gets off the donkey and walks over to the side of the road. He looks down over the city below Him. And He’s crying. Strange scene. The majesty of heaven in tears. Why is He weeping?
Off in the distance He can see Gethsemane, the scene of His approaching agony. Beyond that across the Kidron, is the sheepgate which will soon open for Him, the Lamb of God. Farther still is the hill called Golgotha, where he will hang on a piece of wood—like the snake that Moses put on a pole in the wilderness. But His tears are not for Himself. His eyes see the city below Him; His mind sees the all the hurting and hardened hearts of the future. He saw your heart today. In the Son, God finds expression for His own response to rejection and alienation. It is this part of us that He longs to heal & restore.
Some of you have had the experience of your spouse looking you in the eye, and saying “I just want you to know that I am going to open my heart to you.” And you couldn’t give your heart to them, even though you wanted to inside. And you held back because something was keeping you back.
It might have been your pride; it might have been your bitterness towards your spouse that says “I’m not going to give in because I’m not going to get hurt again. I’m not going to risk emotional intimacy, for fear of the consequences that I don’t want to experience.”
Let me say this to you. And I think Jesus would say the same thing. That’s a common response of a damaged heart.
Is your heart open to Jesus today? If He were say to you “Do you sacrificially love me. Do you cherish me? Am I your best friend?” What would you say to Him?
Jesus said to the disciples in John 14-17 “I want to be your friend. I want a relationship of intimacy. I want to talk with you. I want to communicate through my Word with you. I want you to communicate with me. I want you to know me. I want to know you.” God wants this with every person He’s ever created. He cares about you as a person. Throughout all eternity, Jesus wants to interact with you. He wants you to feel loved. And He wants you to feel special.
John 15:9 “Continue in My love” Keep walking…keep opening your heart to God and you will experience intimacy with Him.
I was out of state several years ago attending some meetings. During the meetings, I went outside for a bit of fresh air and noticed a young man sitting outside by himself. He seemed lonely, so I went over to talk with him. He wasn’t overly friendly at first, so I told him a little about myself & tried to draw him out a little. He eventually opened up and confessed that he was guilty of child molestation. I could see the guilt & shame pressing on this man like a colossal burden. I could see something wrong in his eyes. He had paid the price to society, but he wasn’t free inside. I offered to pray with him. He accepted and said he felt better. I wished I had more time with him.
I saw him later in the week and he was friendlier, but he was still sitting off by himself. Unresolved moral failure will close your heart to others and move you off by yourself. Had he biblically resolved these issues in his heart, he would have wanted to be around others. And his eyes would have looked different. The eyes are the doorway to the heart. If a man is in moral freedom, it does something positive to his countenance. If he is married, every thought & desire goes towards his wife. Your wife can get excited about that every day for the rest of her life. How many of you wives would like that? You would. That’s the way God designed man, to give every thought and desire to his wife and to enjoy an intimate relationship.
Let me say this to you. There are more damaged people in the church than you realize. It’s not just the few that get up at a seminar and share their testimony. And many church members’ hearts are locked, and they need to be loved. They need freedom. Are you willing as a spouse to love your spouse unconditionally and to understand their heart, and to care about the pain that this world has given them? Do you care enough to say “I’m going to be there to heal that, and care about your heart and make you feel special.” What you’re going to experience as a husband or a wife when you do that is emotional intimacy. That person will become your best friend. And that person will never be able to pull away from you emotionally--because you’re the only person (other than Christ) who’s healed pain in their life. Go ahead and take the risk. It's worth it. That will strengthen the church from the inside out.
There will be times when you’ll still struggle. You’re human, and so am I. But it’s that emotional connectedness that is the key to marital oneness. Add spiritual intimacy to the picture and you have a tremendous combination (spiritual intimacy is reading the Bible together and praying together).
When you have spiritual and emotional, you never have to worry about physical intimacy (SEX). You don’t have to worry about your spouse’s thoughts fantasizing with someone else, because when you have emotional intimacy, their heart will only be with you. You’ll have no desire for anything else. Yes, you may be tempted occcasionally—you’ll have to deal with that. You’ll have to biblically break those strongholds each day if you’re struggling, but each evening you’ll come home and you’ll experience something you’ve never experienced before.
Remember that fellow in Genesis who married the wrong woman? They had a tough time sorting life out, due to lots of children and lots of distractions. But two things happened in Jacob’s life which convince me that God can save any marriage. One, he was converted when he had nowhere else to turn. When a man humbles himself and turns to God he becomes a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). He was a different man from Genesis 33 on…. Secondly, at the end of his life, Jacob (Israel) gave his own funeral instructions to his sons, and he said “Bury me beside Leah.” He wanted to wait for the resurrection beside the woman that he had once despised but grown to love.
That’s the kind of man that God is looking for. You and I can be that kind of man, and you sisters can be daughters of Sarah—all through His grace (1 Peter 3:1–10). That makes us the right person.