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How To Persevere In Marriage

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 14, 2021 2:00 am

How To Persevere In Marriage

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 14, 2021 2:00 am

How can you keep going in your marriage when it feels so hard? Dave and Ann Wilson encourage couples to persevere and finish well.

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So, let's talk about track. You don't judge a winner in a race until the finish line. And that's the way life is. You know, you don't judge your life, your Christian walk, your marriage by how you start.

You judge it by how you finish. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So, let's talk about eighth-grade track. Oh, yes. Don't you remember eighth-grade track? You were an amazing runner.

Oh, thank you. Weren't you the Ohio Buckeye Conference Women's Hurdles Champion? 800. 800? So, you ran the 800? I did.

I didn't even know that. I ran the hurdles, but I wasn't as good at that. I didn't know you ran the 800. But did you run the 800?

That's what I wanted to tell my famous 800 city meet in middle school. So, 50 years ago, I was in eighth grade, and I ran the 800 because I wasn't fast enough to run the sprints. Track isn't your thing. How'd you end up running track? I hated track. Absolutely hated it because I didn't want to, especially the 800, you have to run two full laps around the field, you know, and the only reason I did it was to be in condition for football. That's all I was doing. It's like, this will help me be ready for, you know, the late summer and fall football.

So, I go out for track, and they stick me in the 800 again because I'm just not super fast, but I can run distance, right? But here's the thing. And you know, this was Donnell Junior High School. Now they call it a middle school.

I went there too. Yeah, later. You were in fifth grade when I was in eighth grade. You're just a little girl running around. But here I am, you know, so you remember the city meet is the best of the three middle schools in our city of Findlay, Ohio. And you compete for this championship of the city. So, this is like the biggest meet of the season.

It's the end of the year. And I never once won an 800 ever. My teammate, Tom Jones, won. You were in a sport that you weren't the best at? There's one that you weren't? I never won that one time. I always came in second or third because my teammate, Tom Jones, he was fast, and you know, he ended up playing high school football with me in baseball.

So, he always won. So, you've heard me tell this, I think. I decided I'm not going to finish this race. I hate this race. I hate it all. I'm not going to finish it.

What do you mean? How would you not finish it? Well, I didn't tell anybody, but I just hated it so much. And I know I'm not going to win anyway. Now we got Tom Jones who's going to win. And there were six of us, two from each school.

So, the six fastest in the whole city. And I'm not going to win. I probably won't even get the top three. So, I'm like, why even try? So, I decided I'm going to run the first lap. And right at the turn going into the second lap, I'm going to fall.

What? I literally planned it all out. This is not like you at all. You're going to fall and pretend that you're hurt. Yeah, I'm just going to not finish because I hate this race and I'm not going to win anyway.

So, why do it? So, I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm telling this story publicly. So, sure enough, the gun, you know, they start the race and Tom's in first place and I'm literally in last place going in, you know, the first lap, coming around the turn at the first lap. And now we have one more lap to go and I'm looking up ahead and I'm last. And I'm like, there's the turn. And right at that turn, I'm just going to trip. I don't know what I'm going to do. I literally looked into the infield. I'm just going to fall into the grass, grab my leg and be done with this.

Maybe somebody can relate. Just like, I just don't want to do this anymore. And this is my moment. I didn't want to be humiliated to come in last place too.

In the city meet, that's probably more of it was my self-image. So anyway, as I'm coming up to this turn again in last place, I wasn't, you know, far behind, but I was, you know, behind the last guy. And you're at the flagpole.

I know where this is because it's when you start your kick. No, this is the beginning of the second lap. I didn't stay that long.

There's no way I'm staying a whole day. If I'm going to check out, I'm doing the 400 and I'm out. That was it, the 420 more yards. And so I'm starting the second lap and just as I'm getting, I mean, like three more steps. There it is.

There it is there. I'm going to step out. All of a sudden, right in front of me, like five, four runners got jumbled together and they fell down. They stepped on each other and they all went down right in front of me. I literally had to step over them.

Did Tom Jones fall down? Yeah, Tom goes down and the other two, three runners that were right there in first place with him because they were all jockeying for position. And you've seen it, like in the Olympics or something, they go down. Well, they went down right in front of me and I literally have to swing outside them and jump over them. Next thing I know, I look up, I'm in first place. And there's like two more runners left and they're all trying to get back up and run.

But, you know, we're 30 yards ahead of them now by the time they get back on the track. So now I'm like, I'm going to finish this thing. I could win. And I did. What? I won the city meet, eighth grade, 800.

I'm your champ right here. Oh, there has to be a great lesson learned in this. Well, I mean, it's because they fell down and they finished later. But yeah, the lesson learned is this. I learned a really important lesson that day.

One is this. You never know what's going to happen. You may just think it's too hard. You want to give up.

You want to quit. You just don't know what's around the corner. That's really true for marriage. It's true for life. It's true for parenting. It's true in your marriage. But here's the big principle that I think we want to talk about today.

And this applies to marriage and family. You don't judge a winner in a race until the finish line. Like if you would have looked at me at the starting block, you would have said, loser, he's in last place right from the beginning.

There's no way he's going to win. But you get to the end of the race and there I am standing. And that's the way life is. You know, you don't judge your life, your Christian walk, your marriage by how you start. You judge it by how you finish. And so I thought it'd be good to talk about how do you finish well. Now, here's the thing about finishing. You know, in a race, you know where the finish line is.

It's two laps or one lap or whatever. In life, you don't know. But if you're going to finish well, it means I got to live today well, because today could be the finish line. So you're living today like it could be your last day. Yeah.

In many ways. And I would say this. This is the big idea. The big idea is not how you start that matters, but how you finish. You know, you often think the greatest picture of a marriage is your wedding picture on your wedding day. And that's a glorious moment and in many ways a glorious picture. But I think a more beautiful picture is a couple that's standing together 20 years later, 40th anniversary, 50th anniversary. That's finishing well. And you know, and we know after being married 41 years, there are a lot of dark moments that have been in 40 some years, 50 years for any couple where you want to quit and you can quit.

And you can even pick the day like I'm checking out right here, right now. But you just never know what could be around the next quarter. And I think that's true for those that have been remarried to think if you're thinking right now, like, oh, the first one didn't work.

And maybe they feel like this one's not either to not give up. But I'm thinking about my parents. They were married 70 years. And I remember looking at them. We were there to celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary.

We went down for that. And I can remember seeing them and my mom had had Alzheimer's for 12 years by that time. My dad had cancer.

He also had several heart attacks. But I'll never forget they had both fallen asleep in the head chair side by side. Remember this?

They were asleep and they were just holding each other's hands. And I thought that's a picture of marriage, of being in it the long haul. Like that's a true picture of love because they've endured and they've gone through so much.

Dave, here's a word I think we need to resurrect. Persevered. I actually looked up the definition to persevere. Look at this. It says to continue on a course of action, even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

Wow. That's perseverance. And I mean, if you're dating or engaged or in your newlywed days, you may think, oh, we're not going to need to.

Oh, yes, you're going to persevere in the face of difficulty with little or no prospect of success. I mean, our great start to marriage lasted less than six months. Six months of paradise. I mean, it was glorious on wedding day. And we go to the weekend, remember, even two weeks before our wedding. And we think we don't even need this conference.

Because we are so amazing. Yeah. Six months later, we are struggling. And that didn't end. It continued to struggle. And here we are 41 years later because we persevered. And many know our story, but God met us there and helped us persevere.

In the valley. But it has been tough. It's sort of interesting. I think we live in a time where we're watching a lot of people not finish well.

They're falling on the track. Christian leaders, people are deconstructing from the faith and some of our leaders have made decisions that have become public and they're not finishing well. So what would it look like to finish well? Not just as a follower of Christ, but as a husband or a wife or a mom or dad. And I think of Paul writing to Timothy, one of the last books that Paul wrote was the second letter to Timothy. It is the last book that he wrote. And so the last chapter is sort of his closing remarks on his life.

And I love what he said in chapter four. He says, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead and by his appearing in his kingdom, preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching, which is a great word as he's speaking sort of on his deathbed. You know, be ready in season to do the work of the kingdom. And then he goes on, as for you, always be sober minded, enduring suffering, doing the work in evangelists, fulfill your ministry.

We all have a call. And then he says this, for I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. I love this statement in verse seven. I have fought the good fight.

I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. That's perseverance in the Christian walk. And we know Paul's story is all kinds of hardship, all kinds of persecution. He could have easily quit and said, I'm done. But man, you talk about a leader in the faith who persevered and finished.

Well, it's Paul. Well, let me ask you, we both have this passion of finishing. Well, it was even before we were finishing. We're older now, but we just wanted to burn for Jesus. And I see that in you. What compels you? Like, why is that? Why do you want to finish well?

Why do you want to do it so well? I mean, I think it's a marathon. It's a long race. And the testimony of God's power and presence is finishing well. I think it's a testimony to our generation and the next generation that they didn't quit.

They didn't turn into the towel. They hung in there in good times and dark times. And they experienced the very power of God in their life and in their marriage and in their family. And even when it got hard, they rolled up their sleeves and they said, Jesus is here.

He can meet us and can get us through it. Is that what you're looking for? Yeah. And I think I feel that same way of like, man, Jesus changes lives and he gives people hope and he gives marriages and families hope.

And isn't that what people are looking for, especially in our culture today? Like, we need hope and we need answers of how to do this well. Yeah. And I would say, you know, as you think about this, I would be asking this question.

So how? How do you finish well? And so we're going to give you four stays to finish well. And if I can remember 20 some years ago, I think I read in a book by Steve Farrar what he called the four stays.

And so I'm borrowing from Steve Farrar, but it's like the first one would be this. Stay in the Word. Stay in the Word. I think we get off the rails or we lose focus and purpose when we get out of God's Word.

And if we do that, we can easily not finish well. And I think what Jesus said in John 15, he said, Abide in me and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine. Neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. So when you hear that, what do you think?

That same thing. Like, how do I stay connected to Jesus? And I don't mean when I'm about to die or finishing. Every single day, staying connected to the vine is essential. Like we're going to wither and die. I think of our grandson picking flowers for me. And by the time he walks them into the house, they're kind of wilting because they're disconnected, you know, from the root.

And so for us, man, we cannot be disconnected because that's our power source. And I know one of the greatest things I love about you, which nobody gets to see but me, is almost every day of our marriage, I can remember, and it's still true now, walking into the kitchen and seeing you with your one-year Bible, or seeing you on the deck with your one-year Bible and your journal and your pen and your paper, sometimes seeing you on your knees with your hands raised, even on the deck worshiping God. How many years have you gone through the one-year Bible? I think 16 now. In a row.

Yeah. And every year I do it, I'm like, oh, this is so good. Like, there's new things that God shows me.

There's new things that I want to study, and it ignites my soul. I can remember one time talking to these women about what happens when I don't spend time in God's Word. And I brought out this old sponge that hadn't been used in years.

And if you took your finger across that sponge, it would sound like, you know, it's just crusty and hard. But when you're in God's Word, it's like you pour water. Like Jesus said, I will give you rivers of living water. And so every day that I'm in that word, I feel like God's Word is being poured into me and it softens my heart.

So it's not hard and crusty. And it helps me then to hear God's Word. It helps me to obey him. It helps me to know what he says.

Yeah. And one of the things that, you know, our listeners don't know is every time we get in the car and we're going on a trip, you say this every time. Hey, let me read you. When I'm reading today into one of your Bible, and I got to be honest, every time, like, you're going to read it out loud. But you love to read it out loud. And honestly, I never stopped you. And then I say the same thing.

Oh, isn't this so good? You do every time. And it's like the fire in your relationship with Christ and the fire in my relationship with Christ really resonates out of staying in the Word. And you do the same thing. You're not going through the one year Bible, but you're always studying God's Word.

Yeah. And I'm just like, you know, even as a pastor, I thought over 40 plus years of ministry, I realized people really only want from their minister. They want to know that you've been with Jesus today. They just want it. When they meet with you for lunch or they need help and counseling, they just sort of wonder, have you been with Jesus today? Has he met you?

And do you have anything for me? It's just it's either an overflow or isn't like Jesus said, you abide and there will be fruit. And it's so easy in ministry to concentrate on the fruit. And he's saying, no, don't concentrate on the fruit.

Concentrate on the root. Connect. And so we said, even in our vertical marriage book, man, if you're going to keep your relationship dynamic, you need to pray together daily. And that's staying in the Word together so that you finish well in your marriage. So I would say, man, if you're married and you're not praying together daily, that's your action step. Just choose today to say, what if we started praying together as a couple? And some of you, maybe you're thinking, we've never, I don't pray out loud.

You can start today. It could be a very short prayer and you say, honey, let's pray. And what would you say if your husband doesn't want to pray?

You say this all the time. You pray anyway. Just pray anyway. Put your hand on your husband and thank God for them. Pray, Jesus, I pray that you would protect us, guide us. And if your spouse isn't good with that, just pray anyway.

Maybe if they don't like you to pray out loud, just pray silently, but to love them and to show them the love of Jesus. Because I think one of the things you put down this quote, which is so good. Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn. And isn't that true? Like you can tell when people have been with Jesus because they're burning for him and there's something so attractive.

Like, man, I want that fire. They have a joy and an essence about them that's contagious. And I think it's the same thing's true in a home. Kids sniff out fakery. You know, if mom or dad aren't really walking with God, aren't standing in the Word, aren't abiding, you can't fake it. You may be able to fake it outside your home in some ways. You cannot fake it in your marriage. You cannot fake it with your kids as a parent. And you can't fake a fire. It's got to be stoked in the furnace of God's Word and God's Spirit. And so it's like, you can't go a day apart from him because Jesus said, apart from me, you can do nothing. Can you do a marriage that stays hot for 10, 15, 20, 30 years?

And I know it's easy to think I just need to fall more in love with her or more in love with him. And that's part of it. But I think the fire comes from the Word of God and the Spirit of God alive in our lives. So I think a good question to ask at this point is, if you had your heart in your hand, would it sound like, like that crusty sponge? You know, how have you filled up that heart? And we don't do it perfectly by any means.

And none of us do. But man, there's something when God gets a hold of those hearts, when we surrender them, that he does something magnificent. You know, I would even add, you know, we said there's four stays and we've only talked about one.

We're going to continue this. But I do think if this first stay in the Word is not the foundation, the others don't matter because you don't have power. You don't have his perspective to be able to do the others because they're action steps. But this first one is like, am I going to be willing to sit and train in godliness by making the Word a part of my daily workout?

I mean, many of us work out physically and we don't miss that workout. What about your spiritual body? Are you willing to pay a price to say, I'm going to walk with God.

I'm going to lead my family in a walk with God. And, you know, again, one of the ways to do that is just to pray every single day together with your spouse. And I would add one more thing. Oh, one more thing. As you said, pray and getting God's Word, like download the YouVersion app. I'm talking right now to young moms. You're thinking, I don't even have time to read, but you can listen. Put one earbud in and listen to God's Word as you're doing the dishes, as you're doing something like you can get God's Word in your life.

And I'll add one more. I just thought of this. Get the story of us. Yeah. It's the devotional that we as the Family Life Speakers all wrote in. And it's a devo for couples.

And you could just open that thing. It's a guide. And that's one way you can get in the Word together and literally let God transform you and transform your family as you stay in the Word. I think the key idea in what Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking about today is that we need to be purposeful and intentional about building spiritual practices in our own lives and in our life together as a couple. And the resources they just mentioned, the story of us devotional that the Family Life Weekend to Remember speaker team helped to create. That's a great resource for couples to use. The YouVersion app. We've got a link to that app on our website at The app is free.

You can download it and start using it immediately. Again, go to if you're interested in any of these resources. And of course, Dave and Ann have written a book called Vertical Marriage that is about the kinds of practices that we build into our marriage that will help our marriage go the distance. It's available both as a book and as a small group study. All of the information about these resources can be found on our website at Or you can call if you have any questions or if you'd like to order any of the resources from us. Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Now, a quick shout out today to those of you who are the folks who made today's program possible. Those of you who are not only listeners to Family Life Today but who financially support this ministry. Thank you for that support.

You made this conversation possible. And there were hundreds of thousands of people who have been impacted because of your generosity. Family Life Today is listener supported. Your donations make it available as a podcast, our website, our resources, our events.

All of that happens because of your financial support. So we're grateful for that. And if you're able to make a donation today, we'd love to send you a copy of a book we talked about earlier this week. Becky Harling joined us to talk about how we can be better listeners to our children, things we can do to help open them up.

Becky's book is called How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk. It's our gift to you when you make a donation online at or when you call 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Thanks in advance for your support. We appreciate you. And we hope you can join us again tomorrow when Dave and Ann Wilson are going to talk not only about the things we can be doing so that our marriage will stay strong all the way to the finish line, but some of the things we can avoid doing, we can watch out for. We'll continue the conversation tomorrow. Hope you can be with us for that. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-10 22:52:24 / 2023-08-10 23:03:12 / 11

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