One of the very first hymns I learned was called “Standing on the Promises.” Through its Sousa-like rhythmic drive, the hymn underscores the power and strength inherent in the promises of God. They provide a firm foundation to stand upon through any storm or calamity. They bind us to the Lord and embolden us to persevere throughout life’s difficulties. The following stanza illustrates this reality well:
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
Marriage, too, is built on promises: promises God makes to his children, promises spouses make to God, and promises spouses make to one another. However, we don’t traditionally call them promises; we call them vows. Wedding vows are designed to bind us to God and to one another through better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.
The promise, however, is only as good as the character of the one making the promise. This is true for God’s promises and for marriage vows alike. God’s vows are as certain as he is God, so we are able to stand on them. When it comes to husbands and wives, however, the quality of the vow can fluctuate. Why is that?
Making Good on Our Promises
We are fallen and finite creatures; God is not. That much is obvious. But a closer look reveals that God never forgets his promises (Isaiah 49:15). He knows our relationship with him is built on promises, vows, and commitment. Let me be more precise: promises HE makes, vows HE makes, and a commitment HE keeps.
Some marriages lose sight of the promises and act as if the glue that holds the marriage together is affection, happiness, or the right circumstances. That glue dries up and cracks over time, leaving the marriage vulnerable to destruction.
What if we embraced the reality that marriage is built on promises—a covenant between ourselves, our spouse, and God? What if we committed to be promise keepers? Might this reflection on our commitment strengthen us for the storms of life, fostering peace and a more solid relationship on the other side of trials? Might we better see God in the midst of struggles? Responding by faith rather than our feelings can be the theme of our story.
Going Back to the Beginning
Let me urge you to return to your marriage vows.
I take you . . . to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
till death do us part.
Those are the promises you made before God and your loved ones. They are the promises you made to one another when you willingly and joyfully chose to marry your spouse.
If you’re wanting to start with a very practical exercise, consider the following communication vow from With These Words. The vow concludes the book and captures the heart needed to make communication truly work. A couple who depends on Christ to keep these commitments will find that they foster much greater and closer connection in their marriage. God will become more central in your communication and needless division erased.
A Communication Vow
With these words
I will seek to build you up rather than tear you down.
With these words
I will do all I can to reiterate what you mean
in a way that honors and respects you.
With these hands
I will touch you caringly, seeking unity
even through the hardest conversations.
With these eyes
I will look on you tenderly, avoiding judgment and scorn.
With these ears
I will listen intently to understand what you’re trying to say.
With this heart
I will seek to love the Lord first and foremost,
loving you all the while.
With these words
I will share grace, mercy, and forgiveness
as it has abundantly been shared with me by our Savior.
And with God’s help
our communication will draw us more closely together
for the good of our home and the glory of God.Excerpted from With These Words by Rob Flood
WITH THESE WORDS: FIVE COMMUNICATION TOOLS FOR MARRIAGE AND LIFE
This practical marriage resource by pastor and author Rob Flood not only explores why couples should grow in communication but addresses the “how” of communication.