It was thirty years ago that Gary Chapman published The Five Love Languages. True confession: I’ve never read the book but have absorbed the contents (like second hand smoke) from the comments of others who have. He introduced the concept of the “marriage love tank.” In a nutshell, relational resources between husband and wife run low when the love tanks are not being replenished. It’s clearly applicable in marriage, parenting, as well as among the core members of our tribe.
Oil in My Lamp
Speaking of “throwbacks”, allow me to go back nearly fifty years ago, when churches were singing the chorus, Give Me Oil in My Lamp, Keep Me Burning. Jesus told a parable about ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five were wise and five foolish. The wise ones brought an extra source of oil along with their lamps. Mt. 25:1-13 Okay, so being a marriage coach, I see marriage metaphors everywhere! Two lamps meet, fall in love and decide to marry. Things are bright and beautiful but eventually the oil runs low and needs to be resourced.
God-Connect >> Spouse-Connect
I gather oil in a sense when I spend time in solitude and prayer, refreshing my soul’s supply. When each spouse engages in a like manner, their marriage will always have a supply of grace and strength. When I am consistent in my God Connect it naturally leads to a healthier Spouse-Connect. In ancient Bible times, lamps needed to be tended; cleaned every morning, wick replaced, fresh oil added.
Burning / Shining Lamps
Jesus paid a great compliment to His cousin John. He was the lamp that was burning and shining, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. Jn. 5:35 John the Baptist burned VERY brightly over the course of a brief six month ministry career. His preparation in private was decades. As a young boy (we’re not sure what age) he lived in the wilderness. Anonymity. Obscurity. Challenging environments in which to maintain your spiritual hunger. It can be very “pressing” to get oil.
Jesus, the brightest human lamp of all, lived anonymous for 30 years – content to serve His Father in heaven by serving in the context of his human family. He did break away for a moment at the age of twelve, no doubt His calling and mission were drawing Him. But imagine knowing what your destiny is and having to live seemingly so far beneath it.
The oil of humility, a great asset in marriage by the way, was a rich resource in the life of Jesus.
Berries Don’t Burn
The word “Gethsemane” means “oil press.” It was here that the stone presses were set up to extract oil from the olive berries gathered on the Mount of Olives. A large stone roller controlled by two people, crushed the olive berries to a pulp. Then they would either be trodden by foot or subjected to further pressing. The object was to remove the impurities and ready the oil for use. In a sense, Gethsemane was a divine olive press for Jesus. It was a crushing experience in which He processed His grief, anguish, and emotional distress. Certainly an unlikely place to get one’s love tank filled.
The Oil is Flowing
Let me encourage you today, to press through your gardens of affliction when they occur. Under worldly pressure and assault, love tanks suffer casualties. Jesus, under great self-discipline, endured Gethsemane and the cross, for the joy set before Him. No matter what your struggle may be, don’t give up.
Like the widow, we need to keep gathering jars. Actually, we ARE the jars; and the oil will never stop flowing. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. Acts 2:33 (emphasis mine)
The marriage love tank has an in-flow and an out-flow. I need to receive and I need to pour out. Here’s a lesson I learned pretty quick in marriage and revisit the principle often:
Human oil does not reproduce.
Yes, I can learn my spouse’s love language, study conflict resolution, and discipline myself to be a better spouse. But I’ve found the key to be here: When I’m consistent with getting oil, when I’m responsive to God’s searchlight shining on my own areas of need, an incredible process occurs. An organic one. I find myself able to pour out into my marriage, way beyond my own resources. Incredibly, the tank fills from the inside out.
Human oil does not reproduce but divine oil does.