Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Family Forte: What is Your Marriage GPS?

By: Topher Wiles

Don't try to drive from
Lost Creek Falls to Virgin Falls
on your own!
Don’t you just love GPS?  I know I do.  When I moved to White County a little over three years ago Google Maps was like a voice out of heaven giving me directions to all the best things in life.  My GPS guided me to some of the most wonderful destinations like Bino’s Restaurant and the Trolley Stop in Rock Island where the hamburgers and milkshakes are made to perfection.  Without my GPS heavenly natural sites like Welch’s Point and Lost Creek Falls & Cave would still only exist as a legend instead of the beauty that I’ve witnessed as I’ve visited them many times over.  It was my GPS that let me know that I could not easily drive from Lost Creek Falls directly to Virgin Falls even though they are only 1.5 miles apart as the crow flies. 

The best function of GPS is the gentle way it corrects me when I have made a mistake.  Yes men, sometimes our internal cardinal direction compass proves wayward and it is that blessed GPS that lovingly turns us around.  One time, when speeding on the way to a funeral up the mountain in Spencer, I hurried right past the turn for Layne Funeral Home.  Grateful was my emotion when my GPS said, “Rerouting… In a half mile make a left turn..."

As grateful as I am for my driving GPS, I love more the Marriage GPS that I have which guides me to my goals and reroutes me when I make marriage mistakes.  It is my Marriage GPS that has guided my wife and I on our way to financial freedom.  My Marriage GPS has blessed me with 16 great years of marriage that just keeps getting better each and every year.  It is my Marriage GPS keeps me going on weekly date nights with my beautiful bride, keeping the spark alive.  It is that Marriage GPS that continues to guide us toward the goal of one day being old and beautifully wrinkled swinging on the porch holding hands while our grandchildren frolic all around us.  My Marriage GPS even said, “Rerouting…. Make a U-Turn” when I mistakenly entertained the idea to uproot my family again and move to a distant job that recently offered me a huge salary increase.  Yes, I’m grateful for my Marriage GPS. 

What is my Marriage GPS that gives me directions and reroutes me when I make a mistake?  Mine consists of three parts; my Bible, my church elders, and older successfully married men.

The Bible as Married GPS.  The Bible is filled with great marriage advice and examples of commitment even if it doesn’t mention marriage specifically.  Read your Bible every single day asking the question, “What direction does this passage give me for my marriage?”  You’ll be surprised at the inspiring guidance that it gives you toward your goals.  Often I’ve come to a fork in the road of life and marriage, unsure of which way to turn to reach my desired destination.  Low and behold, the answer routinely jumps off the pages of the living Word of God in my morning devotional reading. Some of those beautiful instructions include:

Good marriages don't just
happen. They need guidance.
  • "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." – 1 Peter 4:8
  • "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." – Ephesians 4:32
  • “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” – Hebrews 13:4

The Elders as Married GPS.  At Central Church of Christ, we choose to practice church leadership like we read it in the churches that Paul, Timothy, and Titus guide in the Bible.  In this church leadership structure, we choose multiple leaders, called elders, bishops, shepherds, or overseers instead of one singular pastor.  Each one of these must possess the qualities listed in Titus & 1 Timothy: having a good reputation, married to one woman, exhibiting self-control, sober, respectable, hospitable, willing to teach faith, peaceful, gentle, not argumentative, not greedy, and having managed his own household well. 

As a minister, I serve these elders in the church.  It is also these men who do regular checkups on my marriage, my finances, my health, my children, and more.  These men are respected in my life and guide me along the challenging trials of marriage as my GPS.  It is also these respectful men that can lovingly re-route me when my course goes astray.  Just this Monday, when I let work take precedent over my wife, one of my elders messaged saying, “Stop texting me and enjoy your date night!”  I encourage each of you to involve yourself in a church that has respectably married leadership that you can look to as your Married GPS.
(Read more about our elders here: www.christiscentral.org)

Older successfully married men as Married GPS. Each month on a Tuesday I choose to go have a biscuit with this one old codger who is hilariously funny and thought provokingly pensive.  We spend an hour, mostly with me listening, about what it is like to grow old, to love a woman who is aging, and to still be useful in a rapidly changing world.  After each breakfast he thanks me for bringing a biscuit and listening to his ramblings to which I reply, “Brother, you don’t realize how much this benefits me.”  I’m taking notes now on the directions I need to be a loving husband for 10, 20, and even 60 years down the road. Each and every married man should have an old married fella to sit at the feet of and learn from.   All it costs me is one biscuit a month. 

I know some men navigate their marriage the way they navigate roads in White County.  They just wander around doing what feels right until they get there, give up, or run out of gas.  Get the right directions, guidance, and re-routing instructions by using Marriage GPS.  Grow old together, hold hands, and enjoy the blessings marriage has to offer.  You’ll be glad you did. 

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.

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