Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review - You and Me Forever

 Take a few minutes to think about the following quotes.     
            “Your relationship with God is far more critical than your marriage, and it is everlasting.”
            “Couples spend a lot of time looking at themselves and each other, but very little time staring at God.”
            “It should burden us deeply that many of our marriages paint the gospel in a bad light.”
            “Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever as a part of.”
            “Regardless of how satisfying your marriage is or isn’t, the real issue is how satisfied you are with God.”

Each of those statements – and many more – stopped me in my tracks when I read them and prompted me to put down my reading and think.  And that, I believe, is one of the things a good book should do – prompt someone to stop, to think and hopefully to adjust their perspective and/or actions as a result.

The above statements are from a different type of marriage book.  As I have noted in this blog previously, it is my habit to try to read a marriage book every year, not only to benefit those I counsel, but to benefit my own marriage.  (You will have to ask my wife if it has made any difference…)  The marriage book I read this year was You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan.  Francis Chan is well-known as a speaker and writer.  Lisa is also a speaker as well as mother to their 5 children.

The book has a rather unique structure.  The first half of each chapter is written by Francis Chan.  Francis faithfully and relentlessly applies Scriptural truth to the reader’s marriage to help them see that their marriage priorities may not line up with God’s priorities for their relationship.  The second half of each chapter is written by Lisa Chan.  Lisa often repeats the same themes as her husband, but with a woman’s touch and perspective.  I found the structure very refreshing.  While my male brain responded to Francis’ exhortations, Lisa’s discussion of the same themes often brought out things I have not thought about.  It is almost like the reader is getting two good books in one.

Most of the marriage books I have read over the past 20 years or so, with a few notable exceptions, have focused on the typical, external marriage problems.  Communication.  Money matters.  Sex.  Compatibility.  Gender roles.  And those are all good topics to talk about.  The Chan’s book does not directly deal with any of those things.  Rather the focus of this book is very refreshing and to the point – a good marriage starts and ends with our relationship with God.  We put so much time and energy into our marriages – do we put that much time and energy into our walk with God?  Our marriages have a greater purpose – to point people to the love of Christ and the marriage between God’s son and God’s people.  Are we obsessed with our earthly marriage, or the eternal, heavenly marriage to come?  Humility before Christ by both the husband and wife are keys to a good marriage.  After all, what matters most – winning arguments or becoming more like Christ?  Our marriages are made for something bigger than ourselves, our happiness or our comfort.  They are made for God’s mission – to make disciples, to actively seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  When a couple is fighting spiritual battles together for God’s kingdom, they are less likely to fight each other.  Finally, are couples raising their children to love God far more than they love them?  That is a shocking question on the surface, yet is a necessary one to ask.  As Francis Chan asks, “What will break my heart more – if my kids don’t end up loving me or if they don’t end up loving Jesus?”
You and Me Forever is a different type of marriage book.  If you are looking for a book with practical, step by step tips on you and your spouse can communicate better, this is not the book you are looking for.  This is better.  This book will shake your marital assumptions, make you examine your marital and parenting priorities and cause you to gaze deeply into the grace and love of Jesus Christ.  This book will encourage you to direct your vision to Jesus, because when your eyes are on Jesus, your marriage and your family will be infinitely better for it.

P.S. – Francis and Lisa Chan have made this book available for free in electronic format for those who cannot afford to buy the book.  Check out the FAQ and the many resources they have provided at http://www.youandmeforever.org.

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