How many women do you know who are serving in the church, on the board of their children's Christian school, at the local mission serving food, sponsoring prayer meetings—doing mighty kingdom work for the Lord—all while neglecting their husbands, who are at home waiting to make love? Yes, make love—the anomaly of countless marriages.
I know of several women who epitomize this kind of lifestyle; in fact, I know one woman very well—me. My life looked that way as a new Christian. With all the passion and zeal I had inside me, I allowed ministry to be the purpose I longed for while my marriage was simply an added byproduct.
From the time Omar and I were married, we added children to our family, argued very little, trusted one another—enjoyed each other's company; however, our marriage was passable at best. Enhancing passion was not a concern I had. My thoughts were, I'm married, I have four children—passion is a misleading invention created on television.
My surmise, however, was completely out of line with God. And unfortunately, a lot of marriages today represent that same thinking: sex is a formality rather than a sacred union between man and woman, and this mindset creates nothing more than a methodical presence. The Song of Songs is a gentle reminder of pure romantic wedded love. It's almost hard to read the book of Songs without feeling as if you're imposing on two people madly in love. God wants us to know that while he calls married couples to be fruitful and multiply, planning children is not the only reason a couple should be making love, and women in leadership are obligated to be well-versed in the biblical example of passion in marriage.
God Takes Control
While I was on my whirlwind serving adventure, God eventually took control. All of a sudden, one at a time, ministry opportunities were no longer part of my life. All of a sudden my value and self-worth, as I thought, were slipping away. I had to learn that while God calls women into leadership, ministry must fall in order of his plans.
In The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage, Stormie Omartian lists 16 reasons marriages will fail, and one fact on the list is to make something other than God or our spouse a top priority. It's easy to assume dividing our time between several ministries is putting God first, but that's actually a false reality. Putting God first means to be in agreement with his alliance by doing all we can to ignite a passionate flame in our marriage. My husband and my home were often neglected as I spent all my time at church, and God will never ask us to disregard our home for any reason.
God is first in our lives. Our families—or better yet, our husbands—come second. Then extracurricular activities, jobs, volunteer work, and so on. When things fall in this order, we will see God move in many areas on our behalf. When I became a Christian I should have allowed God to first enhance my "okay" marriage instead of going over and beyond my call to serve at church.
We cannot effectively lead any ministry if we do not believe marriage is the second-highest priority in our lives, and I do not mean marriage coupled with children; I mean marriage, to our husbands. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 3:5, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (NIV). The importance of a passionate healthy marriage is essential to women in leadership as more and more marriages in the church suffer a fate not designed by God. Perpetuating an already existing epidemic within women's ministry causes a mockery of God's Word.
I Took Control
I considered my husband a nuisance when it came to making love, and I found myself in the midst of other women in leadership who were often complaining about their husbands' annoyances. These women seemed unhappy in their marriages and I did not want to join their company. I did not want to think of my husband as a nuisance for wanting to make love; instead, I wanted to adore and dote on him and enjoy his love for me. I wanted to be exactly what he desired.
I went to God and asked him to help me change my marriage, and God answered when I "just happened" to be in a women's prayer meeting one Friday evening and the speaker, a 70- year-old little woman, blurted out that she started praying for her daughter's sex life. We weren't even there to discuss sex; however, with her daughter right beside her, she went on to say that we cannot take our sex life for granted and we must pray that our husbands never lose their desire for us. Omartain affirms the same: just because something is not a problem in our marriage today, does not mean it won't become a problem in the future. In other words, if lack of sex and passion are not a problem with your husband now, that does not mean it won't become a problem in the future.
I finally understood that God wants all marriages to have passion, and I wanted nothing more than to honor God and my husband. I was excited to transform our marriage into something beautiful. I first learned that in order for couples to have great passion, they first need good communication. Omar and I spoke words to one another all the time, but we did not spend a lot of time talking intimately together about our pains, our worries, and our happiness. We started doing devotions together, increased our date nights and movies in bed. I began praying daily for his dreams to come true, his perfect health, integrity that his children could admire, that he would desire only me, that he would be obedient to the Word of God.
The next thing I began to do was pray for our sex life like never before. I began to pray in our room when I knew it was "one of those nights." I began praying to myself by inviting the Holy Spirit in while we were making love. My husband had no idea what came over me. I was a totally different person. We were no longer going through the motions—just doing it because he wanted to—instead, we were both enjoying what God ordained in marriage. My husband was so appreciative that I cared enough about him and our marriage that I sought God to enhance our passion.
Marriage is a sacred union between man and woman, ordained by God, and consecration will only release God's supernatural power in your marriage and ministry. Marriages will face many trials and tribulations; however, a couple committed to the sacrifice will exemplify the inherent discipline Jesus taught by living together in selfless humility. Our husbands are men created in God's own image, and if they follow Christ, they are perfect in the eyes of the Lord. They will fall and they will stumble, but that cannot be an excuse to hold up a barrier creating distance in the marriage. A couple committed to daily prayer for their marriage will break down those barriers and the Holy Spirit will move in areas that were once depleted. The self-worth I thought ministry gave me now comes from my passionate, healthy marriage to the husband I once thought a nuisance. Our once "okay" sex life is now exciting and fun. My once-stalled women's ministry is moving again as more and more women are reading God's words through my writings.
God has a plan for you in his kingdom, and that plan includes your husband walking beside you. Remind yourself daily that you are an amazing woman of God and your value as a daughter comes from God and not activities. Remind yourself of the wonderful man God blessed you with. Remind yourself of the love and patience your husband has given you. Remind yourself that with God at the center of your marriage, it can only be astounding, extravagant, incredible. So call the sitter, light a few candles, and have a boisterous, passionate night tonight!
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba is a Memphis-based writer and speaker. She is a wife to Omar, mother of four, home educator and Bible student. She writes devotions on her blog at www.salruv7.com.