Our lives–and marriages–will end one day. How do we remain strong to the end of our time together on this earth?
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
This week we end our series on Time & Marriage with a look at being strong to the end–the end of our lives and our marriages.
Our Lives and Marriages Will End
Each of our lives on earth will come to an end. God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.”
God also says to us in Hebrews 9:27: “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That’s a pretty sobering thought. It’s one we don’t particularly like to think about.
God tells us that when our time here on earth comes to an end, we will spend the rest of eternity somewhere—either heaven or hell. The good news, though, is when that time comes, we can know for certain which it will be. For we can “face judgment” without fear and with the certainty of living forever with God in heaven. (If you are not certain about this in your own life and want to know how you can be sure, please read Meet Jesus.)
Just as our lives on earth will end, so will our marriages. Our marriages end when one of us dies.
The Sadducees tried to trick Jesus by asking Him a question about marriage after the resurrection. We read in Matthew 22:29-30: “Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.’”*
Knowing our marriage will end when one of us dies can be difficult to think about. This is especially true for those with joyous, healthy marriages.
A colleague of mine at the seminary where I taught spoke at a Valentine’s banquet about marriage. He told about the blessing his wife was to him. He then said it made him wish that we believed–as some other religions do–that marriage continues on in heaven. I know how he feels.
The fact is, however, that our lives and our marriages will end one day. And we want to use the time we do have here on earth–individually and as a couple—to serve God and to serve others.
How to Stay Strong to the End
How do we make certain we use our time well to the end? Once again we turn to God’s Word.
Keep Your Focus on God
The first and foremost thing we must do is something we have discussed often before. We must keep our thoughts focused on God right to the end. Getting our eyes off of God and on the world will lead us astray in our lives and marriages no matter how old we are and no matter how long we’ve been married. Satan never gives up attacking us, and so we must stay diligent to the end.
God gives us this instruction in Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
This is how we stay strong in our lives and marriages to the end. Remaining focused on God is how we will “not grow weary and lose heart” and stumble at the end.
Live Well and Leave a Legacy of Faith
Fixing our eyes on Christ is how we–as individuals and as a couple–will leave a legacy of God’s faithfulness for our children, grandchildren and others to follow.
A legacy is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.” But a legacy can be more than material things and much more important. Merriam-Webster later gives an example of a legacy as leaving your children “a legacy of love and respect.”
In the Old Testament, dying elders often left their children with a blessing–a type of legacy.
Joseph left his family with a very special legacy that was not material. Joseph was not a perfect man–none of us are. But he had lived his life trusting and serving God. And this had allowed him to be God’s instrument to save his family and all of God’s people when a great famine had come upon the earth.
When Joseph approached his death, we find a great legacy he left to his family. We read in Genesis 50:24-25: “Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ And Joseph made the Israelites make an oath and said, “‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.’”
Joseph lived well and finished well, serving God and others. He taught his family even to his dying breath. He demonstrated his complete trust in God for the future. This blessing was not specifically spoken, but what a blessing he left for his children. It was a blessing of confidence in the fact that God and His promises can be trusted. Isn’t that a blessing you’d like to leave to your family and others when you die?
Living a life that uses every moment of our lives for God will allow us as a couple to have a blessed marriage that God will use to bless others. Then at the end we will see its fruits in the life of those we served, including our family.
Where did Joseph learn such faith in God? When Jacob–Joseph’s father–neared death he was also in Egypt, not the land promised by God. And he called for Joseph. Genesis 48:21 says: “Then Israel (Jacob) said to Joseph, ‘I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers.’”
Jacob then blessed all of his children. After doing this, we read these dying words Jacob gave to Joseph in Genesis 50:29-31: “Then he gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.’”
Joseph had learned from the legacy his father Jacob had given to him. Neither Jacob nor Joseph were perfect men, husbands, or fathers, but they sought to follow God to the very end. They left those who knew them a legacy of faith.
That legacy was kept alive for over 400 years until Moses came into God’s story. Moses led God’s people out of Egypt to the land God had promised to give them. We read in Exodus 13:19: “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’”
If you were to die today, what legacy would you leave? What would your husband or wife, your children and grandchildren remember most about you? Would you leave a legacy of faith in God?
End Strong with No Regrets
Misuse of our time leads to regret. It leads to regret for many as they face the end of their time here on earth. If we don’t use and guard our time for that which matters most, the pace of daily life will blind us to eternal priorities. Then one day we will stand on the edge of death with regret.
How do we best use our time so we can end our lives without regret?
Begin by spending time every day with the only One who knows how to turn daily life into eternal legacy. Daily make space in your life for the things that matter most – beginning with God. Seeking God and asking for His help is the first step in trusting Him and using your time well and wisely to the end.
And He indeed helps us. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” It says Jesus is in heaven interceding for us. Right now, Jesus is interceding for you, me, and our marriages. He is asking the Father that we use our time well and wisely. He is requesting that we will end well because we are using our time well to serve God, others, and one another in our marriages.
When I look back at my marriage to Sabra, it amazes me first of all that God has given me such a godly, loving, patient woman to go through this life with. It also amazes me that throughout all these often difficult years, He has been with us and has never forsaken us. I am especially amazed that considering how weak I am that I have not been totally overwhelmed by temptation and sin. I thank God every day that He has been with us through these years.
How has He seen us through? The answer is found in Jesus’ words to Peter in Luke 22:31-32: “‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.’” If we replace “Simon” with our own names, and we can see how Jesus helps us stay on God’s path for us.
God’s faithfulness is greater than our weaknesses. He is strong enough and His counsel is wise enough to lead us all the way home. He will keep us strong to the end of our time here on earth and take us into eternity with Him.
Questions for Discussion
♦ Read this week’s teaching together and discuss what God has taught you through it.
♦ As we conclude this study on time and marriage, commit to each other that you will keep in your minds that our time is a gift from God. This will help you use your time better. I like to remind myself often that just like the money I have comes from and belongs to God, so do the minutes and hours He has given me.
♦ As you go through each day, remind yourselves when you start to feel overwhelmed or angry that you might not get everything accomplished you had hoped to; that no one gets it all done all the time. The important thing is that we do the things God wants us to do—no more and no less. Anything else can wait. Commit to start each day asking God to help you discern what He really wants you to accomplish throughout the day. You might want to pray this together for each other to start the day.
♦ When we memorize God’s Word, and use it to keep our minds on Him, we rightly view all time as belonging to God, and then we see how we use our time in a different way. We will be more productive, less stressed, and more able to fulfill our calling.
Memorize and recall these two verses to help you throughout the day when time issues begin to cause you stress:
Ecclesiastes 3:1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
♦ Close by praying together asking God to help you use your time for His glory this week and into the future.
This brings our study about time and how it impacts our marriages to a close. Next week we will have a new study from God’s Word to help us have the marriages God intends for us.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,