Premarital counseling is one of our favorite activities. We share in the joy of each couple as they have found that “special one” to be their life partner. Celebration is certainly in order, as the search can be a sometimes long and exasperating process. To those still searching, take heart.
What makes it so special for us is that we are called upon to regularly reflect on our three decades of marriage as we guide couples through the preparation process. Every fruitful field of our married life has been the result of sowing seed, soaked in much prayer and the utter graciousness of our God. Our goal then with couples on the front end of the journey, is to ready a field for sowing that will reap a harvest in the years ahead. On the surface, the wedding gets a lot of attention; it’s what everyone sees. Our burden however, is building a foundation for a life-long marriage.
Joyful harvest is often preceded by a drought, or as in the case of Israel, a time of captivity. When the Lord moved upon the heart of King Cyrus to restore the Jewish people to their home, it was like a dream come true. Captivity is a time of having little seed to sow, and hence it is precious. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126:6 NIV) Another translation reads: He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (ESV)
This principle of “carrying seed/carrying sheaves” applies in many areas of life. When you sow you reap. One area that contains daily encounters in the field, is in the marriage relationship. Weeds and stones that were covered over or simply not noticed in the high altitude air of courtship, begin to manifest. The quick investment/quick return that seems to be the norm before marriage, develops into selfless pouring in and then waiting. Long investment/long return is not nearly as fun.
There is a deep correlation between the style of our discipleship and our style of relating in marriage. Those who sow bountifully into their spiritual lives, will also reap bountifully. The harvest we reap through seasons of following Christ provides the seed to sow for the next planting. The same cycle holds true in marriage. On the flip side, those who sow sparingly will reap in like fashion.
Newlyweds that are prepared to sow, laying down their lives for their spouse, will reap a harvest in heaven and then reap a bonus in their marriage. Seed bearing couples will be those who enjoy the sheaves of harvest.