Marriage Minute (probably more tonight)

Down, but not out. That’s a story that many of us can relate to. Bottom of the 9th and rally caps are out. 3 minutes left in the 3rd period and the goalie gets pulled for the extra attacker. The offense puts pressure on and the goal gets scored. The momentum changes and the tide shifts. For some of us, we’ve lived through that. For some, they are still praying for that rally. There is nothing God can’t do in your marriage, especially for 2 imperfect people who keep fighting for each other.

Let’s take a look at Genesis 38. A guy by the name of Judah was having a rough go. Years ago, he was the same brother who conspired to kill his younger brother Joseph. Story a bit familiar? The brothers decided not to kill him, but Judah had the wonderful idea to sell him into slavery. After all, why not turn a conspiracy to commit murder into a bit of profit? Typically, what happens to Judah in Chapter 38 is usually skipped over and the focus of the story arc is on the younger brother Joseph. But let’s take a look here. Judah had multiple sons and they weren’t great. In fact, for those of you who are a bit older and remember “flannel-graph” at church, what happens to his second son in verses 8-10 would never show up on those boards, let alone in a Sunday morning message. 

Judah’s wife died and he went to be consoled by his friends that sheared sheep. Apparently, they knew how to party. Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law Tamar heard Judah went down to see friends and she took off her widow garments and covered herself with a veil. Judah, apparently still grief-stricken over his wife’s passing, decided to pursue a woman believed to be a prostitute (who was actually his widowed daughter-in-law Tamar). He slept with her and she became pregnant. At the point of being killed by fire, Tamar identified Judah as the father of the children she was going to bear and she was spared. 

In an honor/shame culture, Judah wasn’t exactly sitting pretty. He loses his wife and then thinks paying for a prostitute will make things better and ends up having sex with his daughter-in-law. There’s stupid, and then there’s stupid on steroids.

Maybe we’ve done some pretty dumb things. Maybe they were selfish, out of ignorance, or even out of spite. Some of you know the details of our story (some may not). There were times or a period when all evidence pointed to “there’s no good reason why they should be married or still be married.” As an imperfect person, there’s a lot I had to own. I humbly say the bulk of our struggles/dumpster fires in our relationship were my doing (Emily would tell you that she still had a part to play/part to own). I don’t live with regret, but I would tell you there were a lot of decisions I wish my younger self didn’t make. But GOD…He had a plan. His plan was to have people come into our lives who actually spoke encouragement. His plan included a wife who did not cease praying for herself and her husband even when there was no feeling behind it. I can’t explain it. The prayers changed her and then changed me. People ask me what was the moment things changed. I can’t pinpoint it. The same thing happened to Judah.

Fast forward to Genesis 43 and 44. Shamed and disgraced, Judah offers himself up as a bondservant for his younger brother Benjamin. What makes someone with a terrible character offer his life for someone else? Previously, Judah has failed morally…multiple times. He can’t be trusted (along with the rest of his brothers 43:6) and yet, he gives us a glimpse of the coming Messiah “For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying “If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life. Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy, as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me…” Genesis 44:32-34

Judah said, “I will take his place, I will be his safety, so he can return to the father”. If that’s not prophetic about Jesus, I don’t know what is. God changed Judah’s heart. This was a restoration. Joseph might get all the accolades for saving the family, and he should. But Judah’s story arc often gets lost in these passages. 

Fast forward to Revelation 5, whose tribe does the Lion come from? Right, Judah. A man who did incredibly foolish and dumb things, the Messiah came from his lineage. Taking a man who was morally corrupt, untrustworthy, and all around pretty crappy character, and being transformed into someone who would willingly lay down his life for a brother.

That’s my (our) story. If you’re struggling, that can be your story. Don’t quit, please don’t quit the fight. We plead and pray for you. Never give up on what God can do and never stop fighting for each other. There’s just too much at stake.