It doesn’t take much to realize that greater strength lies in the cord of several strands twined together rather than a single strand alone. And so it is with marriage.
Though marriage is often compared to this tightly woven cord of three strands, at times our strands were not as tightly woven as they should have been. But isn’t that how we grow wiser, learning from experience? As we read in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
I also believe God created us distinctly men and women, establishing the marriage union first with Adam and Eve. “‘Haven’t you read,’ [Jesus] replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)
As God joins two unique individual hearts to become a more efficient unit, we are also united with God in a holy union, like the cord of three strands for greater strength. And biblical wisdom demonstrates this very point: “If one falls down, his friend can help him up…Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10a, 12)
Married in 1974 by Rev. Robert W. DeVries from Rochester, NY overseeing our Owego Christian Reformed Church, one of his examples was that if we attempt to do things in our own strength we will often fail. As a couple, we have a better chance to succeed in facing this journey of life when united in a common goal. But an even stronger bond is created by the triangle formed as we keep God at the top with the lower horizontal points balanced by each of us as husband and wife.
For Ed and myself, our marriage is especially close and strong when God is so intertwined that we acknowledge Him in all we do. Working together as a couple, our differences or weaknesses are strengthened to complement each other. Seeking God’s wisdom on this journey, we find the answers we need to overcome obstacles and move forward in His will because we as Christians are not exempt from the trials of life, nor difficulties encountered in marriage. We tend to take our marriage for granted as life moves on. We may feel secure and forget to affirm our spouse who may seek that elsewhere. When life gets hectic, overloaded, and irritating, bonds of love need especially to be strengthened. But we’re busy and we forget.
Like bookends, anniversaries hold between them the memories of our lives. And this past October marked our 45th anniversary. Our love has seen us through both difficult and happy days as the decades witnessed change and growth within ourselves and our family. I’ve often said I wish I knew then what I know now, but God grew us each in unique ways as our tiny infants matured into young adults He intended them, and us, to become. And though the years witnessed much sadness, including Ed’s disabilities and the loss of our oldest daughter at 25 years old, the Lord also blessed our family with much joy and peace.
As part of our vows, Edward promised me his deepest love, unselfish devotion and tenderest care. He promised to direct our lives into a path of faith and hope in Christ as a faithful husband, no matter what lay ahead. Expressing deepest joy, I came into a new life with him as my husband, loving him, learning from him, and seeking to please him. As God had prepared me for him, I vowed to strengthen, comfort and encourage him, no matter what lay ahead. Though imperfect, we sure tried!
Admittedly, I have not always sought God first. As alluded to in my poems and blogs, life is not an easy road; at least it has not been for us, and I have to fight the desire to take the reins myself. Maybe it has something to do with being the oldest of six, and, with my husband’s disabilities, being responsible for much. Instead, I need to release that tendency and return control to the Lord.
Over the years, we learned true love cannot remain the same; without growth it ceases to exist. Yet, how often don’t we find that love grows and is blessed by facing those difficulties in life together; the hard times which can either draw two hearts closer or tear them asunder. Love must be nurtured and fed, and given room to grow and expand horizons in order to complement and care for each other. . . with a sense of humor to brighten the days and chase discouragement away!
True love is about teamwork that strengthens bonds. It’s a choice to remain committed to vows made before God on a joyous wedding day because the tough times will come. We’ve been there. And those tough days will attempt to tear apart bonds once considered unbreakable—offering an easy way out to a seemingly better life. Little tears can either become permanent scars that irritate, or be scars which evidence the soul’s healing to bring wisdom and understanding with peace and a deeper love.
True love is also about making sacrifices, thinking more highly of our spouse than ourself, carrying the one who stumbles or becomes ill long term, opening up in honesty with mutual respect and trust, and extending forgiveness and grace with arms open wide. After all, true love grows deeper as the foundation is strengthened.
As the words flow when writing a poem (and later writing its reflection), I find the Lord speaking to my heart…imparting His truth and wisdom. Coming from a family whose parents divorced amid dysfunction, I’m thankful for the Lord’s guiding hand throughout our marriage, including mentors in church who brought wisdom and insight from their own journeys. Reading "Our Daily Bread" Scripture-based devotional each evening has also been a great resource of God’s love and encouragement. Often, a reading has been exactly what we needed to hear that day… for God knows our every need way ahead of time!
Writing these words, I had no idea there was a ministry named for the “God’s Knot or Cord of Three Strands”. Simply searching for the verse above which referenced the strands of three, I came across a ministry that provides three cords on a golden ring for the bride and groom to braid as a symbol of God’s presence intertwined in their marriage.
What a beautiful reminder of our Lord’s presence among us! Contemplating the sturdy cord made from three strands, it becomes clear we are not as easily pulled asunder when the Lord is intertwined within our marriage. Together, we can better resist and withstand the temptations and trials which inevitably come our way.
This reflection with poem was first posted on my blog, Poetic Devotions.