Just a couple of weeks ago, we watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympic games. As Dalia can attest from my incessant watching, I (Harold) absolutely love the Olympics. My favorite is track and field. But, I also love gymnastics, swimming, biking, soccer, and basketball. There is something about watching the athletes who are the absolute best in the world compete at the highest level when it matters most.
While I adamantly root for the US to win, in honesty, I want everyone to do their personal best and let the chips fall where they may. For me, there are few things more disappointing in sports than watching someone who has dedicated years of their life for a moment that is squandered--disqualified for a false start, doomed by a botched baton pass or inadvertent lane violation. Years of intense sacrifice lost in mere seconds.
It does make one appreciate more those athletes who are able to master the nerves, stay attentive to details, and perform to their absolute best. For example, I loved watching the U.S. Women's 400-meter hurdles final, when the U.S. hurdler Dalilah Muhammad ran an extraordinary time that would have been a world record if countryman Sydney McGlaughlin didn't happen to run just a little faster. I was on the edge of my seat.
How do these athletes prepare for these opportunities on the world's largest stage that happens only once every four years? Yes, most are amazingly gifted physically. But, it is the discipline as well as the physicality that got them there. Without question, these Olympians demonstrate extraordinary discipline in training their body and their mind for peak performance.
While we can admire the athletic feats of these Olympic marvels, it behooves us to remember that God calls us to do more extraordinary feats than these Olympians and more often than every four years. And, the eternal stakes are even higher when it comes to the synchronized maturity needed for peak performance in marriage.
Here are a few examples of the disciplines "Coach Jesus" trains us to perform as married couples:
Submit your marriage as a tithe - The key to relational wealth in marriage is to give of its harvest to the Lord. As the Lord blesses the your marriage, give from this bounty to together bless and encourage others. When you need more godliness in your marriage, you must tithe more from your it. It takes discipline to tithe your marriage, especially when you are disappointed with it.
Serve your spouse's needs first - listen to discern your spouse's deepest need and consider ways you can prioritize this need at least on par with your own needs. It takes discipline to serve this graciously because it demands humility.
Sacrifice anything that hinders your spiritual witness as a couple - your marriage is designed to be a testimony of God's miracle of knitting two sinful beings into one sanctified relationship. It takes discipline to witness this sacrificially.
The amazing thing about Coach Jesus is that the discipline he demands of us is easy and light (Matthew 11:28-30). But, it only feels as such when you adhere to his prescribed three-step training regimen. Step 1 is to submit your marital tithe. Step 2 is to serve your spouse. And, Step 3 is to sacrifice for your witness. Coach Jesus instructs us to prayerfully practice these steps today and then do it again tomorrow and the next day.
If you choose your own training path, you will feel the burden of the load. It will feel too much for you to handle.
In our desperation, we seek the Lord to make sense of the burden. But, the Lord will only show you yourself--your decision to be self-trained. Your (training) ways that seem right to you are leading to the destruction of the soul of your marriage (Proverbs 14:12). Your soul (and your marriage) is longing for the Divine Coach.
It takes a measure of grace to remain disciplined through the ebbs and flows of Christian marriage. The Apostle Paul tells his disciple Timothy that he must "train himself for godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7). This admonition, however, is just as relevant for us today. Godliness is gold (and the goal).
One of my favorite contemporary theologians is the late Dr. Dallas Willard. In his seminal book on spiritual formation, Spirit of the Disciplines, he reminds the reader that performance in the big moment only happens through disciplined practice in thousands of small moments. Richard Foster, the famed author of the classic Celebration of Discipline, seconds Willard's assertion in describing the magnificent impact of the "small things" that are done in service to others. The message is that greatness is all about the small, incremental things that nobody but God sees.
One of my favorite stories from this year's Olympic games is the journey of one of my favorite female U.S. sprinters of all time, Allyson Felix. Again, I was on the edge of my seat when she won a bronze medal by the narrowest or margins in a race against much younger competitors. During these games, Felix became the most decorated U.S. track and field Olympian of all time surpassing the legendary Carl Lewis with her eleven Olympic medals. After her record-setting Olympics, Felix said "Everyone sees the glory moments, but they don't see what happens behind the scenes". Felix's post-Olympic words on her Instagram account best captures the moment, "By God's grace, I'm here".
My prayer is that you and I can both train with Coach Jesus through his proven training program so that we too can embody the graceful small steps necessary to claim the gold of godliness in our marriages.
Register for the 2021 LIVE Event
Click here to register for our live event is October 14th-17th in Baltimore Maryland. This year's theme is "Discipline" and couples are going to learn how to practice habits that grow you together. If you have any questions, just email us at eusebeia1000 @ gmail.com.