October 29, 2014

Father-in-Law

Gary Thomas — 

Father bride and groom

 

A Prayer That Left Me Gloriously Ruined

I was a young husband, and during an intense time of prayer, I sensed God telling me very directly that Lisa wasn’t just my wife, but she was also His daughter and I was to treat her accordingly. It was an intense application of 1 John 3:1: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (ESV).

This was a moment of revelation for me, and the force of this insight grew once I had kids of my own. If you want to get on my good side, just be good to one of my kids. Conversely, if you really want to make me angry, pick on one of my kids. My blood pressure will go up if your name is even mentioned because I’d much rather you mess with me than with one of my kids.

So when I realized I was married to God’s daughter—and that you, women, are married to God’s sons—everything about how I viewed marriage changed. God feels about my wife—His daughter—in an even holier and more passionate way than I feel about my own daughters. Suddenly, my marriage was no longer about just me and one other person; it was very much a relationship with a passionately interested third partner. I realized one of my primary forms of worship throughout the rest of my life would be honoring God by taking care of a woman who would always be, in His divine mind, “His little girl.”

We often hear pastors contemplate the Fatherhood of God, a wonderful and true doctrine. But if you want to change your marriage, extend this analogy and spend some time meditating about God as Father-in-Law. Because when you marry a believer, He is!

When I disrespect my wife or am condescending toward her, I am courting trouble with her heavenly Father, who feels passionately about her welfare. In a positive sense, when I am actively caring for my wife, loving her, and seeking opportunities to showcase her beauty to others, I am pleasing God on about as high a level as He can be pleased.

“She’s Going to Be Okay”

Three decades ago, my soon-to-be earthly father-in-law, broke out in tears during my and Lisa’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Bill wasn’t particularly sentimental, and almost two decades passed before he explained what was behind the tears: “Gary, when you married my daughter, I thought to myself, I don’t have to worry about Lisa. She’s found a guy who will take care of her. She’s going to be okay.”

Now that I have two daughters in their twenties, I can empathize. It’s almost scary to me how desperately I want my daughters to be loved, which helps me understand that the best gift I can give a father-in-law is to take care of and even spoil his little girl. Viewing God as Father-in-Law has helped me understand the apostle Peter’s words when he wrote, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Pet. 3:7).

That used to seem backward to me; I thought I needed to pray for a better marriage, but Peter is telling me I need a better marriage so I can pray. Looking at God through the lens of Father-in-Law resolved the dilemma. If a young man came to me, praising me, complimenting me on my character, even singing songs about me and giving me 10 percent of his income, and all the while I knew he was making one of my daughters miserable through abuse or neglect, I’d frankly have nothing to say to him except, “Hey, buddy, start treating my daughter better, and then we can talk. You say you respect me? Then take care of my little girl.”

That would be the first and only thing I’d want to discuss with him every time he approached me. So it makes total sense to me that if I don’t treat Lisa well, respecting her as God’s daughter with all the privileges such a high standing involves, that my prayer life will be hindered.

Women, to get a feel for how well you’re treating your husband in God’s eyes, just consider how you’d feel if a daughter-in-law treated your boy the way you treat your husband, in any area. Would you thank God for her, or would you be pleading with God that He would convict her and soften her heart?

We can never begin to repay God for what He has done for us. But we can love one of His precious children with devoted excellence. We can make Him smile by the way we take care of His son or daughter.

(This post is just one example of how applying biblical truths serve a couple seeking lifelong intimacy in marriage. If you’ve found it helpful, please consider checking out the book from which it was taken: A Lifelong Love: What if Marriage Is About More Than Just Staying Together? www.alifelonglove.com )

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8 responses to Father-in-Law

  1. Fan-dang-tastic, as per usual, Gary. Thanks for this TRUTH!! Sharing this post with the Future Marriage University (FMU) community at https://www.facebook.com/FMUniversity.

  2. What a thought provoking, insightful message Gary. I never thought about the precept of God being my ‘Father-In-Law before, I always thought of my wife as a shield of God and a ‘Gift’ from God, but this makes perfect sense. As a father of 2 Young Women, I will have the task of ‘Giving Them Away’ into a marriage relationship with their husbands, thus becoming their ‘Father-In-Law’s’, and this sheds new light to my perception. My daughters will be my gifts to these young men for them to treasure as precious, priceless keepsakes of mine, to which I will insist on their undivided attention, devotion and care just as I have given to them. And God expects the same out of me in my relationship with my wife. More proof that we are not gifted with the knowledge of how to be husbands or wives, but it is a daily learning process for us refine ourselves as God’s children in Union with another child of God! Always maintaining the fact that God has to be the ‘Main’ strand in our ‘Three Fold Cord’ marriage relationship in order for our marriage to grow and remain strong, with God holding us together and ‘One’.
    Thanks for your blogs!

  3. We are all imperfect people. May both genders self-reflect on ourselves as we aim to follow God’s perfect plant.

    Great post, Gary. Heard you on focusonthefamily a few weeks back and am waiting on your book.

  4. Many thanks Gary for this wonderful insight and may God bless you and keep you are forever overflowing with his glory. How I wish this would be included in the standard wedding vows that are made by brides and grooms at every wedding ceremony. “…do you take Beatrice, daughter of the Lord Most High, to be your ….”

  5. A timely word….thank you so much! Can’t wait to read the whole book!

  6. Pure excellence. Thank you, friend.

  7. Thank you for this piece, Gary. God has used you to reveal this wonderful truth to me about my relationship with my husband. While I cherish my husband, the revelation of needing to see him as God’s son added a new dimension to the importance of how I care for, love and appreciate him. Treasuring the things that belong to God means so much to me. My husband is a treasure and our 40 years together just took on added value. Once again, thank you.

    Of course I will share this article with husband.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful insight.
    Please pray that I will honor God and trust him with this season that I am in.