Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Marriage, writes: “One of the reasons the trees of the western slope of the Cascades survive so long is quite simple: The Washington forests are so wet that lightning strikes cause relatively few fires. Whereas the traditional forest, if left alone, might face a lightning-initiated fire every fifty or sixty years, in this part of the Cascades it would be about once every two hundred years. Lightning strikes still come, but they’re not as devastating, so trees have had a much longer time to take root and grow.

That’s a good picture of a marriage that is based on the ministry of reconciliation. Strong Christian marriages will still be struck with lightning — sexual temptation, communication problems, frustrations, unrealized expectations — but if the marriages are heavily watered with an unwavering commitment to please God above everything else, the conditions won’t be ripe for a devastating fire to follow the lightning strike. If I’m married only for happiness, and my happiness wanes for whatever reason, one little spark will burn the entire forest of my relationship. But if my aim is to proclaim and model God’s ministry of reconciliation, my endurance will be fireproof.”

Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000) p. 36.

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Brian Hedges is Senior Pastor of Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, MI.