I used to think of marriage as a field. When you first get married, you come to this new field of earth together for the first time. As Christians, you submit this field to God and He begins to work the land.
Initially, as with any field, all the work involves moving stones and clearing away weeds. Making the field ready.
That’s the first few years, and they can be difficult. Leaving you with a nakedness and vulnerability which is chilly if you’re trusting enough and committed enough to accept it.
After that – just when you begin to think the clearing and moving have stopped – God begins to plough. Seriously now? PLOUGHING? The field now cleared of stones and weeds is cut into, completely uprooted and overturned. Everything turned upside down. But with a purpose. Sound familiar?
The purpose is to sow.
It seems like destruction. It looks like destruction. But in fact you discover (if you can hold on) that He is making the newly cleared ground fertile and open to air, water and light.
So for the next however-many years, God sows. And He waters. And He waits.
If you’ve signed up for this ride, this season can really feel like nothing much is happening at all – except a lot of prayer and perhaps recovery from the moving and the weeding, and relief for some respite from the ploughing.
In reality, however, it is a fallow season preceding massive growth and change. You have to remember that it’s coming – and that it’s good.
If you’re aware of this whole process, you begin to wait with anticipation for a harvest. For the seeds to grow and produce it.
For many, many, many the harvest comes as a matter of course. But what happens when it doesn’t?
I used to tell friends that if you walked away from the “field” of marriage, all the work God had been doing in you both and for you both (when submitted to Him) would be for nought. So you must hang on no matter how it looks through all the pain, all the upheaval, all the change and the sacrifice.
But I have been prompted to realize that this is not necessarily so. The “for nought” part, anyway.
Because if, after years and years of waiting, there is the realization that God’s seed has been sown not on soil but on stone, it is not for nought. Not by any means.
Because, even if your marriage may not have been changed/may not have grown/may not have flourished… YOU HAVE.
It is not the harvest you had hoped for. But it is a harvest nonetheless.
Refining, endurance, faith, perseverance, willingness, enduring love, determination. These strengths are all yours to keep. These are your wealth. Your fruit of obedience.
And – if you do have to travel on alone – you can be assured (as I am) that you are still God’s field. Because you always were. His precious creation.
And all He has been doing in you through your marriage will be preparing you for what He is calling you to now. And you will need every bit of your past fruitfulness to be equipped for that.
Because that’s just how God rolls.
He is, after all, the Great Redeemer.