Training for the Ironman
Bible Reading: Ephesians 5:25
You husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her. Ephesians 5:25
“I don’t ever want to get married,” Monica declared.
At twelve years old, she had seen as much marital unhappiness as she could handle. Her dad left when she was three. Her mom remarried when she was five. Her mom and stepdad get along okay, but Monica knew they worked hard at it.
Despite the tough marriage stuff we see all around us, the Bible paints an incredibly positive picture of marriage. It was created by God to take away our loneliness (Genesis 2:18). It brings the future generation into this world (Genesis 1:28). It’s given for our enjoyment (Proverbs 5:18).
Yet the Bible never hides the rough side of marriage. The Ephesians verse from the pen of the apostle Paul makes it clear that marriage is huge work. He couldn’t have made the demands any more obvious than telling husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church—the people who believe in him. Exactly how did Christ love us? He died for us! And Paul wasn’t just talking to husbands. The love required of a wife for her husband is just as big.
Marriage takes long-distance endurance. But there’s a secret to having a long and happy marriage. It’s preparation.
Suppose you want to run the Hawaii Ironman triathlon. Piled on top of a 26.2-mile marathon run are a 2.4-mile ocean swim and a 112-mile cycle race through blistering tropical heat. So how do you get ready for the Ironman? Competitors train an average of 7 miles a week swimming, 48 miles running, and 232 miles riding.
You can’t wake up one morning and decide to do the Ironman. You would die trying. And race officials wouldn’t even let you near the course.
Marriage is the ultimate endurance event. The decision to enter the race is only one step. It also takes a training routine rigorous enough to carry you to the end. If you want to cross the finish line of marriage still smiling, getting ready starts now.
Every relationship you are part of prepares you for marriage—from your family relationships to your peer friendships to the guy-girl relationships you will someday experience. You can prepare now by learning to live like Jesus did. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be expected to lay down your life for the ones you love, you will be expected sometimes to give up things in your life to express your love.
TALK: How are you training to be ready for marriage? Why bother?
PRAY: God, give us the endurance we need to make all of our relationships great. Help us put in the hours of training we need so we will get the results we want.
ACT: The heart of married life is the sacrificial love that caused Jesus to lay down his life for the world. Sacrifice something—time, money, desires—to do an act of love for a friend or family member today!