By Victoria Ostrosky
“‘Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)
To God, marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, and is a great mystery. Jesus loved His church and gave Himself up for her. His love is absolute and complete. His sacrifice is absolute and complete. And the intimate communion God desires with His children is of paramount importance. The Garden of Eden was a place of communion and rest. Walking and talking with God every day, all day. But the fall happened, and everything changed.
God instituted marriage way back in the Garden of Eden. We know how difficult it can be to maintain the level of love and commitment necessary to stay together for the lifetime we’ve promised each other. We can get led astray by attention from someone else. We can keep a mental list of all the times our spouse has hurt us or disappointed us. We forget that we have culpability in the daily decisions we make. And, over time, we become strangers.
But God knew what He was doing, and, as Believers, we need to set an example for the world. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Those aren’t just pretty words to put on a wall plaque.
Garland Rowland, a small group pastor at Destiny Worship Center, says “I love building small groups and I love to pray with people. I love to see them grow in Christ.” Everyone knows the awful statistic of marriage failure. “The enemy,” says Garland, “is attacking marriages big-time. You’re not alone. The good news is that there’s a 100% chance of success if both spouses will get on the same page and follow Christ’s words.”
You may be wondering how you can do that. Garland lists three things husbands and wives must do. First, is to humble yourself and put Christ first. Then you need to repent and stop looking at things the same way, and lastly, forgive. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount – “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14)
In our society, it’s become normal to hold a grudge, to hold onto anger and hurt, to not forgive because the damage done to us was so bad. But God doesn’t have a sliding scale when it comes to forgiveness. We are commanded to forgive. Period. As Jesus would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“Forgiveness is huge,” says Garland. “When you truly forgive, what they did fades away.”
When it comes to working on saving your marriage, it’s about really taking the time to look at yourself and take stock of who and what you are. “We may think we want to move on, but marriage is a blood covenant, not a contract. There’s hope if you humble yourself, are willing to change, and honestly see yourself and your failings. Read your Bible and start conforming your life to the Word of God.”
Garland explains that men are to be the spiritual leaders, and when wives begin to see Christ in their husbands, they fall in love with Jesus more and more. “Keep Christ-centered and your marriage will fix itself.”
Garland knows that the more you become like Christ, the closer you will become in your marriage. In his counseling, he stresses the importance of putting Christ at the center of your marriage, to be forgiving and loving. “God gave your wife to you, and when you honor and cherish her, you honor God.”
The more you both become like Jesus, the closer you and your spouse will become. “You must bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
Garland and his wife, Gretel, can testify to the truth of these words. Focusing on Jesus and their relationship with Him, saved their marriage, and yours can be saved, too.
You can hear Garland’s entire story and listen to many other incredible interviews on the weekly Road to Redemption radio show and podcast at www.rtrdestiny.com.