Marriage Built on the Rock - The Warrior's Journey®

Marriage Built on the Rock

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

Virginia Guard chaplain support teams support military personnel in Louisianna. Photo by Coast Guard is licensed under CC By 2.0

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24–27)

More straight talk from Jesus. He is winding up His message known as The Sermon on the Mount. His words have penetrated the hearts of His listeners as no message ever had. And now He is nailing it with a metaphor using two kinds of houses, one built on sand and the other on rock. The houses experience identical circumstances: heavy rains, rising water, and heavy winds. The house built on the sand collapsed with a great crash. The house built on the rock stood. Jesus brings home the point. Like the houses, listeners fall into two groups. Those who listen to Jesus’ words and put them into practice are like the house built on the rock.

Those who hear the message but don’t put the words into practice are like the house built on sand. Like that house, they won’t stand when times get tough.

Jesus’ teaching about these two houses contains truth that certainly applies to marriage and family. Let’s take a closer look.

By way of background, let’s examine the state of marriage in this country. The institution of marriage in the United States has been weakening over the past several decades. Approximately  50 percent of all marriages wind up in divorce. The failure rate for second marriages is even higher, coming in at about 67 percent. Nearly three-quarters of all third marriages fail.

Divorce rates for military couples generally match those of the rest of American society. We do know that since 9/11 the huge numbers of married soldiers deploying has resulted in a noticeable spike in divorce within the military. Despite focused attention by military leaders, efforts have not achieved the desired outcomes. In matters relating to marriage and family, brave warriors and their families seem to succumb to the same issues that plague the rest of American society.

Statistics fail to tell the whole story. What about the quality of life that exists within marriages and families that do survive? Are couples happily married and raising healthy families, or are husbands and wives simply holding on for dear life in an effort to get the children raised? Marriage is challenging, and so is raising a family. It has always been this way. I encourage you, however, to set your goals much higher than mere survival and to believe that you can succeed in both areas far beyond your present level. God says you can! More than that, He is ready to help you. Enough background. Let’s get to the present. I need to ask you some very direct questions. Are you ready?

1. With marriages and families crumbling all around   you, do you believe your situation can be different?

2. Do you believe that God can help you have a  stronger marriage and family?

3. Is a stronger marriage and family something you  genuinely desire?

4. Are you willing to take the necessary steps to  strengthen your marriage and family?

Let me tell you what we believe regarding marriage and family. Bottom line up front: marriages and families who put their trust in Christ and make a sincere effort to apply biblical truth in their lives are like the house built on the rock. Though the rains will come, the waters will rise, and the winds will blow, these marriages and these families will stand. They will not only survive, but will actually thrive. Does this apply to second and third marriages? Yes. Will this work for single parents? Yes. Can this work in blended families? Yes. Are you getting the point? God wants marriages to last and families to stay together. That’s His plan.

Fortunately, He provides the resources to back up His plan. It starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. It progresses as couples and family members, empowered by the Holy Spirit, follow the principles set forth in Scripture. Back to the house built on sand. There are no guarantees for marriages and families who merely hear God’s words but do not put them into practice. Granted, there are some marriages built on sand that may last, but we don’t recommend going that route. Even the best human wisdom and effort, without God’s enabling power, is hit-and-miss. It’s risky, it’s uncertain, it’s unwise.

Let me close with a personal testimony. Judy and I have been married for 37 years. These years haven’t always been easy ones, but we have chosen to center our relationship on Jesus Christ and His Word. The Lord has sustained us in amazing ways through the years and has blessed us with four wonderful children who have chosen to follow Christ. We’re privileged as well to be grandparents of six beautiful grandkids.

In our testimony, we must also make mention of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Christian marriages and families we have known and observed as part of the military. They have trusted God and tried to follow His Word to the best of their ability. In turn, the Lord has responded by helping them to experience strong marriages and resilient families even through the toughest of challenges. These marriages and families constitute a great cloud of witnesses to the fact that our God supports and honors those who honor Him.

If you are not there already, you can join and be part of this great cloud of witnesses who can testify to love and power of Jesus Christ in all areas of life, but especially in marriages and families.

So keep reading, keep working, and keep praying. You are warriors whose marriages and families will stand as living witness to the greatness of our God.

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