THE IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL UNITY WITHIN A MARRIAGE
By Robin St Clair
Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
I have found over the years that it is quite common to find husbands and wives’, who are established believers, on quite different “spiritual” levels. Oftentimes, wives are soaring with great experiences with God, or husbands are soaring with great experiences with God, but rarely is it found when both the husband and the wife are experiencing the joys of the Lord together. I believe it is such a beautiful thing to see, when a husband and wife, are experiencing the depths of Christ together. We must understand that this is the Will of God for the Christian marriage.
Some may say. “That sounds great, but my husband isn’t very interested in experiencing more of Christ” or “That sounds great, but my wife isn’t very interested in experiencing more of Christ”. If this is the case, then whichever party lacks desire needs to find a place of repentance, for a believer who does not desire more of Christ is in a bad spot indeed. May we be found praying for our spouses if we ever find ourselves in such a reality of life.
In understanding that there are times that the desire might be lacking, I do believe that in most marriages, there is a desire, in both the husband and wife to know and experience more of the Lord. I have found that there are times when both the husband and wife are privileged to experience things together. Whether that be in a prayer meeting, convention, revival, the School of Christ, or Church service. However, I have also found that there are times that a husband or wife experiences things with the Lord alone, for whatever reason (travel expense, sickness, temporary spiritual coldness, etc.). When it is found that a husband or wife is granted greater revelation, deeper experience, or any other life changing encounter alone, there should be a desire by the one that was granted such graces to see their spouse experience the same. There should never be a “gloating” or “relishing” in the fact that one has experienced an encounter with the Lord, and the other hasn’t. This attitude is not pleasing in the sight of God, and is a terrible testimony to your spouse. Unfortunately, I have seen this on many occasions.
With this ground work being established, I believe the account given to us concerning Samson’s parents illustrates to you and me what a Christian marriage should look like. It should be two people, who love God, love each other, and who both desire that their spouse progresses in the things of God, as they themselves desire to progress. If Phillip desired to tell his brother Nathaniel about his encounter with Christ, how much more so should a husband or wife posses that same desire.
There are 5 things I would like to bring to your attention.
Isolated experiences with God do occur at times
There should be an “openness” to hear about your spouse’s experiences with God
There should be a desire to experience that same “revelation” as your spouse
Time is never wasted in “making haste, and running” to bring your spouse into the same revelation that you possess. God doesn’t mind waiting.
And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Here we find that the Lord “appeared” to Manoah’s wife, while she was alone, away from her husband. Scripture does not tell us where she was. She could have been anywhere, at home, in the field, at a revival service, etc. We learn that God gave her a very important Word. It was a Word that was going to impact her, her husband, their eating, their drinking, and the normal routine of their life. The whole of their existence was going to be completely changed. No longer was their home going to be quiet, but a child was going to fill their world. I have often thought “Lord, why did you appear to her alone?”. One would think that it would have been much easier for the Lord to speak to both of them at the same time , in the same way. However, “His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways”. You see, this does occur. Scripture gives us many examples of a husband or wife experiencing things alone with the Lord. I find the next step after such experiences is very important, for it can determine in great degree the level of spiritual unity within the home.
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death
Here we find Manoah’s wife’s next step. She didn’t go and tell everyone in the church about her fresh experience first, she didn’t call and tell her friends first, she didn’t go and visit her mother first, scripture says she “came and told her husband” first. I believe if our marriages are what God intends they should be, then we will do as Manoah’s wife. We will tell our spouses first for “we are one flesh”. I do think it necessary to mention that Manoah’s wife undoubtedly knew she would receive an open mind and heart from her husband. I don’t think she dreaded telling him, but knew he would be more than happy to receive her joyous testimony. I believe she knew that when Manoah discerned she had something she greatly desired to share with him he turned off the TV, set down the hammer, and made time to hear her with a humble “openness”. This is very important within a marriage. We must always make time and genuinely desire to receive “spiritually” from our spouses.
Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah;
Here we find that Manoah did not simply brush off the testimony of his spouse, but he earnestly sought God in prayer that he too might have such an experience. He understood that God desires “unity” in a marriage. Manoah, no doubt wanted to be able to sit up at night, and wake up early in the morning and be able to talk with his wife about the “deeper” things of God. This has always been a pleasure of mine. My wife and I have always been able to share and talk about the things of Christ together, as we have both desired to “progress” in the things of God. You see, oftentimes a husband, or a wife neglect prayer, when there should be prayer being made. If you find yourself in the position, where your spouse is sharing wonderful testimonies with you and you have yet to experience what they are testifying about, do not be discouraged, but pray. I can assure you that God will hear and answer your prayer. Scripture says “And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah”. How wonderful this is! The Lord didn’t say “No Manoah! This is just for her”. Scripture says “He hearkened” or “He answered”. How many times I have seen the Lord do this. Time and time again I have seen the Lord answer this prayer. A prayer made out of a humble heart. We must notice in Manoah’s prayer that “marital unity” was at its core. He didn’t say “Come again to me…teach me” but “Come again to us….teach us”. What a wonderful testimony of Manoah’s and his wife’s marriage. He fully understood they were together in this walk with God.
And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man
It is a wonderful thing when God answers prayer! Here we find that God answered Manoah’s prayer. However, the Lord did not answer it the way I would have assumed He would have. Scripture lets us know that God appeared unto Manoah’s wife “as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her”. Initially, this can be somewhat perplexing. Why would the Lord appear to Manoah’s wife alone when it was Manoah that was praying for this experience? Once again, at times “The Lords ways are past finding out!”. If we can for a moment be brought into this “scenario”. Here Manoah’s wife is, she is in the field and all of a sudden the Angel of the Lord appears to her. She undoubtedly knew how her husband had been praying for the “angels return”. She had no doubt heard, and seen him seek the Lord in the place of prayer. You see, even in the midst of this “heavenly” experience her husband was on her mind. It is quite astonishing to me that Manoah’s wife didn’t just sit there and enjoy God presence on her own. She got up, made haste, and ran to tell her husband. I do believe that she knew deep down that the Lord would not “disappear”, as she desired to bring her husband into such an experience. We must realize this fact. The Lord will never penalize a spouse for desiring deeper realities for their spouse, and taking the time to bring them into such experiences. The Lord will wait! I believe it pleases Him to wait. I have to believe that there was a joy in the heart of God, as He waited on Manoah’s wife to go get him. As she ran, sweat dripping, heart beating, and feet swiftly moving. I want to possess this type of desire daily for my spouse. The journey is far more pleasant when a husband and wife possess this type of desire for one another. May we take notice as well the response of Manoah. Here his wife comes to him. He sees her excitement, and her exhaustion, and in this moment he must make a choice. Get up and follow her, or question why the Lord didn’t come to him. Manoah made the right decision. He “arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man”. We must realize that sometimes we must follow our spouses “as they lead us to the man (Christ)”. As long as Jesus is the destination, it is quite irrelevant who is being followed in this particular context. There are no scores being kept in a Christ-centered marriage.
Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe”
Lastly, we find that Manoah was ultimately, “in time”, brought into the same revelation as his wife. Scripture lets us know that everything Manoah’s wife told him was validated by the angel “Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware”. In this we can realize that the 9 months leading up to Samson’s birth was a glorious time, as Manoah and his wife were in “spiritual” unity. When they went to Church they both wanted to sit on the front row, when they went on vacation they both wanted to attend Church, before they went to bed at night they both wanted to read scripture, etc. It wasn’t always a tug-of-war concerning spiritual things, but a pleasant walking with God “in the cool of the day”. Also, we must note that Manoah was admonished by God to “let her observe” the greater consecration required, which he ultimately did allow. This is vital in marriage. There are times the Lord needs additional time, greater energies, etc. to do a work in the earth. It does us well to allow our spouses to observe what the Lord is requiring. You see, there are big things, “Samson” things, that God calls marriages and families to do, and in these things there must be “unity”, for the work is a deep, life changing work, a “Samson” work.
My prayer is that every Christian marriage exemplifies the marriage of Manoah and his wife. Two people who love God, who are open and ready to receive the testimony of their spouse, who pray that they too may have such an encounter, who walk in humility toward each other, and who put “US” above ‘I”. I believe if we would be such people, Christian marriages would do so much more for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”. Wherever you may find yourself today, take courage in the “spiritual” progression clearly seen in the life of Manoah and his wife. I am quite confident every marriage can walk in “spiritual” unity if both parties sincerely desire to know Christ in his fullness.