October 7, 2014

Pulling Tubes

Gary Thomas — 

Pulling Tubing


Having just heard me speak on marriage, the 60-something woman was already in tears by the time she reached the front of the line.

“What you’re saying is so true. I’ve worked at a hospice for twenty years. Caring for people is what I do. Yet somehow, it never got transferred to home. I resented doing the very things I spent my whole day doing for others…”

After a pause, she went on. “Until, that is, my husband got cancer. After the first operation, he stayed home for six weeks, and I stayed with him.”

She broke down here, finally getting out the words, “It was the best season of marriage we’ve ever had…”

I’ve learned to let people pause and continue their story at times like this. She didn’t need a comment. She just needed to rest before continuing her story.

“Pulling tubes, cleaning sutures—I’m a nurse, I can do all that—I was doing for him everything I’ve done for everyone else, but I had never served my husband like that the entire time we were married. But now I was. And it just drew us so close together.”

I’ve never read a marital book that talks about building romance by pulling medical tubes and cleaning sutures on your partner, but this dear woman had stumbled onto a powerful truth. She entered “full extent love” and received the award.

You remember Jesus in John 13, at the Last Supper, when Scripture tells us He got up from the table to show them the “full extent” of His love. And what does He do?

He washes their feet.

That would be one thing—to show His humility and service by washing His followers’ feet. But Jesus goes one step farther and says, “So, if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (vv.14-15)

Then there’s a promise—one our woman in question experienced tenfold: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (v. 17)

Are you serving others more than you serve your spouse? Husbands, it goes without saying here that any sense of superiority, any sense that your wife is there primarily to serve you, goes completely against the spirit of what Jesus is saying. Just about every man knows there’s something very practical we could do to serve our wives, this very weekend, but why aren’t we doing that? We’ll do favors for our friends, we’ll drop what we’re doing if one of our parents call, so why do we put our wives’ comfort on the back burner?

And wives, do you find yourself offering nurturing care to others outside the home with a sweet spirit, but resenting it when you’re at your own address?

We don’t need a medical crisis to enter full-extent love. Let’s recognize that Jesus’ example—including pulling tubes and cleaning sutures—can strengthen marital affection in a powerful way.

What tubes need to be pulled in your own marriage, today? What sutures need to be cleaned?


Have you checked out Gary’s new book? Go to www.alifelonglove.com

When you subscribe to Gary’s blog, you will receive blog posts directly to your e-mail inbox. You will be one of the first to learn about the latest in Gary’s writing.

3 responses to Pulling Tubes

  1. Your words are confirmation that I am doing the right thing, regardless of what others think. Thanks so much!

  2. Gary–your words affected me like the book of James does: a gut check for the reality of my faith. I have often seen people in my congregation squirm when I insist that the FIRST place their faith should play out is in their homes–and especially with their spouse. Your call to serve mine in mundane, practical ways is a great challenge for me today… thanks.

    • Served my husband for over 20 years. Know what I got– screamed at, lied to, made fun of, physically accosted and now that I have multiple health issues I was screamed at that it’s my “job to take care of him.” And he never misses church