One of the most holy moments on earth happens when a man and woman exchange their wedding vows and pledge themselves as husband and wife. In the name and presence of God, a man and woman promise to join themselves to one another, and forsake all others as long as they both shall live. There are no other vows that are more sacred or tender than the wedding vows. I think many of us know that these vows are intensely meaningful and powerful, and yet many marriages are still falling apart.

I truly think the model that many of us bring into our marriage relationships is flawed. Much of our thinking is based upon a Hollywood model of romance and lasting relationships. We see this model in many of our favorite romance-comedies. The following steps are taken from pastor and author Chip Ingram. For a lasting relationship, Hollywood says: (1) Find the right person. It is all about that magical, mystical connection you will make with some other individual. (2) Fall in love. How do we know we are in love? We have all these ooey-gooey feelings. We may not even know the person real well, but according to Hollywood, we will know when we are in love. There will be this incredible chemistry. We will sing songs like, “Hello, I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?” (3) The third step is to fix all of your hopes and dreams upon this person for your future fulfillment. Hollywood would have us believe that if we can just find the right person, all of our problems will be solved. All of our emptiness should disappear. All of the Hollywood romances end with the couple riding off into the sunset so to speak. It makes it look as if all of life will be smooth sailing now that this couple has found true love. The movie never shows you what life is like 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. No, they just leave you in the afterglow of the couple’s “happily ever after” ending.

The reality is that this doesn’t always work out that way. The relationship comes back to earth. Feelings die down. Differences arise. And so Hollywood has one last convenient step to complete the model. Step four (4) states, “I failure occurs, repeat step 1, 2, and 3.” That’s right. Just do it over because apparently you just found the wrong person. You may have thought they were right, but apparently you were wrong. So start again and find the right person.

Now God has a different model. (1) The first step is to become the right person. Instead of starting by finding the right person, God want us to seek to become the right person. Good relationships start in our own hearts, not in the hearts of others. Are you growing as a man or woman of God? Is God shaping your character? (2) Instead of falling in love, God calls us to walk in love. True love is a choice and a commitment. It is not about ooey-goeey feelings. Emotions can come and go, but God calls us to love our spouse at all times. True love involves actively pursuing the best for the other person involved. It is an action word, not just a feeling. (3) Next we must fix all of our hopes and dreams upon God and seek to please him in our relationships. People will fail us but God will not. We must ultimately fix our hopes upon the Lord and seek to please Him. This means we will serve the other person and never give up on them.

(4) If failure occurs in God’s model, we are called to just repeat steps 1, 2 and 3. Go back to seeking to become the right person. Let God change you. Walk in love, and fix all your hopes and dreams on Him. Which model do you most reflect? It can mean the difference between a lasting relationship and a failed one. Choose well. And that’s the Word.

The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@sscommunitychurch.org or 634-2960.

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