As I shared previously, at the beginning of each game of marbles, a circle was drawn in the dirt and the question was posed: “Are we playing for keeps, or are we just playing?”
You see, in marriage, it’s a lot like that and from the beginning, the ground rules or the foundation must be firmly in place and clearly defined. In observing couples over the years, I’ve often noticed that some seem as though they’re just playing while others are clearly playing for keeps. Some seem careless about the marbles in their bags… as if to disregard their value — while others cherish them knowing their worth is greater than all the finest jewels in the world.
As analogies often do, this analogy of marbles, games, and playing for keeps or just playing will break down quickly and perhaps lose the depth of meaning I’m intending to convey, but I ask you… are you married for keeps or are you just playing? If your answer isn’t an affirmative: playing for keeps(!), then may I ask you again for a moment more of your time… another visit over a cup of tea and a prayer for resolve to do whatever it takes to get to the heart of your commitment and to see any fault lines or cracks in your foundation and for you to take a sincere look at what else you’ve got in the bag that you’re treasuring. What might be competing or what might be distracting you?
As with most things, what you’ve got in your bag demonstrates what you treasure and what you’ve been willing to part with or what you’ve lost. You’ve likely had some of both, but will hopefully come to see, value and cherish your treasures more as the years go by.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the interaction in different marriages. Some, you’ve readily seen are played out sweetly with great precision as if every move is made with love and skillful intention; you might feel warmed by the loving respect you see displayed, the tender kindness you see demonstrated in even small, but thoughtful, things. You might be inspired by the kindnesses and courtesies given. You might be encouraged by the storms they’ve endured, the trials they’ve faced and suffered and the blessings they rehearse. But then in others, you see right away the negligence and disregard; careless words that make you wince, disrespectful attitudes that make you cringe, lack of respect, etc. The un-cherished treasure, the unloved gift—the bag of marbles spilling out — the pink cleary lost in the battle. I ache when I see this—but I’m instructed to take a look at my current reality–where am I at the moment?
Because I’m keenly intent on the matter, it’s an area of occasional spiritual attack and I’m so ashamed when I discover that I’ve not been gracious and loving to my husband, or that I’ve not cherished the treasure of the gift that he is. I grieve when I hear a man belittle, shame or mock his wife or a woman’s careless disrespect for her husband’s abilities, opinions or plans. It’s as if edification is for *others* but we allow a certain measure of leeway for our flaws or flexibility if we don’t feel like “playing by the rules” in our personal life or marriage that we might demand in others.
I shared with you last time that when I was a little girl playing marbles, I tried to play with intense skill and the determination of a professional as I’d guard that pretty “pink cleary” and I tried to never let it out of my site. Everyone knew it was my favourite as I rarely took it out of my little bag and played it only when I felt absolutely certain I’d not lose it. So it ought to be with each of us and the husband the LORD’s given us: each with our prized treasure: his hopes, his reputation, his home, his goals, his thoughts, his needs, his vulnerabilities, and his emotions—we ought to be so careful with these that we would do nothing to lose or damage them.
Today, a circle is drawn in the dirt… the take a look at the “bag” of the treasures of your life. Is the bag intact? What’s in your bag? Have you cherished the treasures in your bag? Is the circle in the dirt very clear and visible? Have you sought to be diligent in caring for the things the LORD’s called you to care for? Have you been careless with your treasures? Have you neglected or mishandled the treasures of your marriage?