My wife, Cathy, dragged me to our first couples small group. I believe in small groups, but the last thing I needed in my already busy ministry life was another obligation to lead. Cathy promised they didn't want my leadership.
From the first evening, I liked it. We talked about real issues. We assumed our marriages and families were not perfect.
Seven years later, I realized that those couples had helped raise our children while supporting our marriage. This community of believers had lived out Galatians 6:2 — "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
God never intended couples to handle marriage and family issues alone. A community of fellow sojourners is an essential ingredient for a healthy marriage and a vibrant faith.
In our small group, John and Rachel had the most high-maintenance marriage. As the weeks turned into years, they became more vulnerable, sharing with our group about their needy relationship. We discovered that they had never been away from their kids — not even for a date night. After discussing it with one another, our group offered the baby-sitting and money necessary for a weekend getaway just for John and Rachel. At first, they were hesitant, but soon they accepted the gift and enjoyed a second honeymoon.
A week after their getaway, they returned to our group, smiling and holding hands. Although their problems didn't go away immediately, John and Rachel committed — along with the rest of the group — to a weekly date night.
A year later, our small group gathered for a celebration and renewal of marriage vows. With tears in his eyes, John said, "I love Rachel more today than ever. And frankly, I know that I wouldn't be married today if it wasn't for this group." There wasn't a dry eye as we realized the power of community to preserve and restore marriages.
Talk about it:
- Among the couples we know, who helps us replenish our marriage?
- How can we support their marriages as we "carry each other’s burdens" (Galatians 6:2)?
- How can we expand our community of "fellow sojourners"?
For devotions to help make your faith — and your marriage — stronger each week of the year, see Jim and Jean Daly’s book The Best Year of Your Marriage: 52 devotions to bring you closer.