As summer is quickly approaching, I realize how much I will miss those cool fall nights, the ones where you get together with friends and have a friendly little fire in the backyard. It is always a great time of fellowship, and I know our kids love watching the fire, keeping warm, and making s’mores.
When you look at the fire, it is beautiful in so many ways with its ability to produce light, warmth, and even protection. On the other hand, fire has the ability to cause destruction, death, and disaster and can, at times, even destroy families. It’s a rhetorical question, but how can fire have two opposite effects? The answer is simple: a disaster is sure to come about when a fire is taken out of the containment setting it was meant to stay within.
Let me flashback about seven years ago before Dana and I were married and when my life was, there’s no other way to say it, a complete train wreck. Knowing what I know now, I can understand why my walk had such deficits and now makes more sense and why I try to seek joy or momentary pleasure in things that could not sustain it. I tell this story because as much as I do not like it and knew there was no intention behind it, I now realize how it could have led to something of mass destruction. Dana and I only had one car at the time, and she was picking me up from work, so I was outside waiting for her. One of our female guidance counselors came out and remained out front with me. We were talking about a student when one of us said something funny, and I started laughing, as did she. Now I did not know where Dana was, but I could feel a disturbance and whenever I tell this story, I call it “in the force”. I knew I was not doing anything wrong, but I knew that something was not right, and sure enough, Dana came pulling up. I thought, well, maybe this is nothing; we won’t have to address anything; I will just get in the car and go home. So, I got in the car, and we started driving, and there it was, “so what was so funny”, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
I could not understand what I had done wrong, and Dana, as graceful as she was, broke it down for me step by step, and I mean step by step, from the gestures of flipping her hair to suggestive body language that displayed her emotions that these situations signal. I was disappointed that I would be perceived as anything other than who I am, a loyal and trustworthy man, but needless to say, it was a vital lesson and has now taught me how to affair-proof my marriage. Now I never physically cheated on my wife, but emotional intimacy with another individual would be just as devastating. I have learned to put measures in place to ensure that there are no mixed messages; for example, I do not let a woman in my office without taking precautionary measures such as keeping the door open. I also always speak to a woman as if my wife is present, I do not attend to other women’s problems, etc. If there is a woman at work I am friends with professionally and will offer advice, I always run it by Dana to make sure it will be ok because if there is an issue, then I will not do it.
So, to be honest, I was not sure where to go with all this, but the Lord has been pressing the importance of making sure that what God has created for marriage stays within that covenant. Let’s get it out of the way and be straightforward about it. Still, the truth is both emotional and physical intimacy seems to be one of the significant areas that Dana and I come across both with men and women that seem to leak out of the containment of marriage. Unfortunately, the affair, the addiction, or whatever the proclivity results from multiple actions before the final act.
We see in Job 31:1-2 that “he understood the temptation that existed because of the lust that existed within himself “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?, For what is the allotment of God from above and the inheritance of the Almighty from on high?” Job is saying that who am I to look upon something that is not mine, it is not meant for me. Guzik points out that it is only what God has given us in our spouse for which is ours to look upon in the first place.
Proverbs 5: 15-18: Soloman writes about the importance of remaining within your own marriage.
Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
So how does the fire get out of its containment? Our experience is that when one looks to satisfy a need that lacks substance, it begins a cycle of escapism. When one goes to the opposite sex to feel valued, have a need met, crack a smile, have a conversation, or look to a visual image, the list goes on and on; the fire amber begins to get outside its natural containment. As the ambers start to get out, the fire begins to grow, and before we know it, a forest fire has set in, and putting it out is hard to do.
The fire remains within its containment when we remain steadfast in the Lord and His word, 2 Corinthians 10:2-5 “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not [a]carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” when we are grounded in the word of God, have communication with our spouses, and seek the Holy Spirit to fill us.
So, I ask, is your fire within its proper source of containment?