Bonded (1/21/18)

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Emperor penguins are the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. They grow to heights of 44-48 inches tall and weigh between 55-84 pounds. Some have been known to stay submerged for up to 18 minutes and dive to depths of 1800 feet.

Their reproductive cycle begins at the start of the Antarctic winter, in March or April. They walk at around 1 MPH to their breeding grounds, which is anywhere from 31 to 75 miles from the sea. After the female lays her egg, she transfers it to top of the male’s feet. The female returns to the ocean to feed while the male incubates the egg for about two months.

The female returns around the time the egg hatches. She then feeds and tends to the chick while the male walks back to the ocean for food. The parents take turns going back and forth from the ocean to the chick so they can feed it. They do this until the chick is around 140 days old. Then the chick is on its own.

In many species of animals, the male has nothing to do with raising his own offspring. He breeds the female and then leaves. The mother assumes total responsibility for raising the young. Penguins are different. The project of hatching and raising a chick to adulthood will fail unless they both work together through every step of the process. For example, if they aren’t successful in transferring the egg from the mother to the father’s feet, the cold temperatures will soon freeze the egg. This means all of the work they’ve done up to this point has been in vain.

In many ways, we’re no different than penguins. There are many areas in our lives where we need someone to help us. Ecclesiastes 4:1-12 says, “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Fools fold their hands
and ruin themselves.
Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 Verses 8-12 teaches that accumulating wealth and possessions should not be our life’s purpose. This is futile, especially if there is no one there to share it with. While these verses were not written about the marriage relationship, they certainly apply to it.

Look at the advantages there are to being married. Working as husband and wife gives a better return for their labor (Vs.9). One spouse can help the other one up if she or he falls (Vs. 10). They keep each other warm. This can be spiritually and mentally as well as physically (Vs. 11). A team is stronger than an individual (Vs. 12). Having all of these things in a marriage is a great benefit to each person.

The saying “opposites attract” is true when it comes to choosing a spouse. We’re typically attracted to those who are strong in areas where we’re weak and weaker in areas where we’re strong. In a perfect world, we’d understand there’s a reason we married someone who is much different from ourselves. This should lead us to not only embrace their differences. We should celebrate them as well.

If you’re married, please think about your relationship to your spouse. Do you typically embrace and celebrate the area’s where your spouse is different than you are?

Usually not. Instead of looking at our spouse’s differences as a strength to our marriage, many people look at them as weaknesses. They spend tremendous amounts of energy trying to change their spouse from who God created them to be into an image of ourselves. They’re like Dr. Evil in the Austin Power’s movies. They try to create their own Mini Me.

This leads to frustration. Frustration leads to arguing. Arguing leads to emotional and physical withdrawal because people quit trying to make their marriage better. Once it reaches this point, there are many areas in the marriage where the husband and the wife just exist together. They’re no longer working together or supporting each other. Just like penguins who don’t work together, much of their hard work from the past has been in vain because they’ve allowed the coldness to come in and kill their dreams and goals.

Are there areas in your marriage where you and your spouse have quit trying because you wonder “What’s the use”? Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m waiting for my spouse to make the first move. I’ll change when he/ she does.”

What if your spouse is doing the same thing?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m doing everything I need to do.” Let’s be honest. There’s always areas where we can do better. Let’s do a little exercise and see how you’re doing.

One of the greatest things that husbands need is respect from their wives. Wives, please step away from whatever device you’re reading this on. Look into your husband’s eyes and ask him this question: “Am I respecting you as I should?” What did the look on his face tell you?

Wives need to know their husbands love them. Husbands, please step away from the screen a moment and look into your wife’s eyes. Ask her this question: “Am I loving you as I should?” What did the look on her face tell you?

Did the look on the face of your spouse show there’s work to be done? If there is, it’s not going to be easy or you’d already be doing it. Perhaps the years of frustration and arguing have worn you down and you think it’s impossible that things can get better.

I have good news. There’s hope. The very last sentence in Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Three strands that are woven together to make one larger cord are much stronger than the three strands will ever be on their own. What are the three cords? Wife, husband and Jesus.

If we’re willing to allow Jesus into our marriages in new ways, he can and will give us the strength we need to work on our marriages in the areas where we no longer have the strength to try. Isaiah 40:29 says, “He gives strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak.”

The question is: Are we willing to allow Christ in? And, are we willing to recommit to our marriage vows and work at making our marriages better? If we are, we’ll find something interesting happens. As we get closer to Christ, we’ll also get closer to each other.

Christ can make our marriages stronger. Pray for Jesus to give each of you strength, love and forgiveness. Ask him to unleash his supernatural powers into your relationship. Do your part as well. Read books on how to have a better marriage. Watch videos from marriage experts. Go to a counselor together if you need to do so. Attend a marriage enrichment seminar together. Strive for a better relationship.

There are a lot of marriages where the couple has allowed coldness to kill their dreams of “what could be.” It doesn’t have to be this way.