In 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico with 11 ships full of men and supplies intending to conquer the new land for Spain. Everything was unloaded as they prepared for the venture. What happened next is open to interpretation. Some reports indicate that, unbeknownst to his crew, he set the ships on fire. Others say that he broke them up by running them aground. Whatever action he took, the end result was the same. The familiar, sea-worthy ships were destroyed. There would be no retreat. Every single one of his crew had to fully commit to making the endeavor a success.
When we marry, we too set out as explorers, intent upon establishing a new home. We arrive in separate ships, but reach the same shore. There we find new terrain to explore, new obstacles to overcome and a new future to build. Yet, there's no hope for success unless both parties are fully committed to marriage.
Many new explorers enter the bounds of matrimony with an attitude of if things don't work out we can always call it quits. That's not a healthy approach to begin any endeavor and certainly not the one God intends us to have as we join together. In Matthew 19:8, Jesus tells us clearly that divorce was not what God intended for marriage. There are circumstances when a divorce is the only option, but those times are far and few between.
The ships we sail to first reach our mutual shore of new life aren't the rough ships of Cortez's day. Instead, we arrive on cruise ships overflowing with comfort and luxury and are often surprised to find, when we disembark, that the new land is challenging and full of obstacles--not at all what we've become accustomed to. The best way for any explorer to ensure success is, along with excitement and anticipation, to take time for proper planning and preparation.
Use the Right Tools-
Cortez didn't just hop on a boat; he gathered the right tools and supplies in advance and unloaded them upon the shore. What they needed but didn't have, they found or made from the resources around them. Marriage should be approached the same way, with each partner gaining the tools needed for a healthy marriage and applying them when necessary. Important tools for a successful marriage include reliance on God, communication skills, mutual respect and self-control. What we don't have, we need to go out and get. If heavy struggles arise, seek Christian counseling. Some issues are too difficult for us to try and resolve alone.
Most of us are not surrounded by healthy marriages as examples. Divorce and remarriage were common in my family and may be in yours too. But that isn't an excuse for giving up. It simply means we need to work harder to overcome our lack of knowledge.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, hard words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Burn the Boat-
By destroying the ships, Cortez solidified the degree of commitment of the crew. Burning your ship--the option of an easy way out--cements your commitment to one another. Marriages struggle when there is a backup plan. As long as we believe that there is another option readily available, we aren't prepared to push through the difficult times to reach the other side. And sooner or later, there will be difficult times. Home should be with one another, nowhere else.
Part of burning your boat includes cutting the apron strings with parents and others. Your loyalties and dependencies now lie with each other first and foremost. Place God at the heart of your relationship and fully commit to your marriage.
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Message for the Journey:
For the adventure of marriage to end in success, three conditions are needed. First, be sure to have the proper tools and supplies. What you didn't bring with you, go out and get along the way. Secondly, don't leave the ship you arrived in anchored in the bay. Burn it and fully commit to your new life together. And finally, make sure there are three of you in your party. You'll need the wisdom of God as your Captain and Navigator to successfully traverse the new terrain and establish a wonderful new life.