My wife and I came from very different spiritual backgrounds … and temperaments … and expectations. A bit of the “opposites attract” thing. So of course when we got married the idea of devotionals had totally different meanings for each of us. I was pretty much the straightforward Evangelical of the crowd: we get up early (like Jesus), we read a passage of Scripture (like Jesus), we pick the one verse that we think God wrote just for us (like Jesus), and then we share how we will incorporate that verse into our lives (like Jesus). Then we write everything down in a journal, so we can look back over our lives to celebrate God’s faithfulness.
But Anne was from a more “charismatic” point of view. She didn’t mind getting up early, but she wanted to sing, then pray, then read, then write a song about what she read. And maybe do it all while walking vigorously through the woods. What a waste of time! Half of it was of no value and the rest was completely out of order. But of course she couldn’t see that. She couldn’t see how effective and purposeful my way was.
Conflict ensued, but quietly, because this was our “Quiet Time”. We both began to dread devotionals – morning or otherwise – but I felt that to be the spiritual leader meant I had to keep trying, even though she clearly wasn’t following me. Finally, I decided we would each do our own thing. I would just have to wait till God straightened her out if we wanted to have devotionals together. Twenty-four years, three CDs, and a music ministry later, she is still writing songs from her time in the scripture and I have published two books that came from writing in my journal. We learned that not everything – even “spiritual” activities – required us to do them as a couple. Our marriage was founded on Christ and our love, not on any specific regime.
Here is the danger I discovered as a new husband: assuming God is “on your side” just because you are the man. Being a leader approved by God is different from being a leader put in a position by God (think kings of the Old Testament). I was determined that I not fail as Anne’s spiritual leader, but I was unimaginative, inflexible, and unteachable. Because I occupied a God-given position, I figured He was obligated to bless my decisions as long as they weren’t clearly unbiblical. Not so much, as it turned out. He wants us each to grow as individuals and as a couple. Sometimes, when God is training a spiritual leader, He will let us fall on our faces because we can see Him better from that position.