THERE are times when we have to start again. It happens in simple things like taking the wrong turning when we have to go back to the crossroads; or, when we wrongly follow the knitting pattern and have to undo rows of stitches.

Does this happen in marriage? A recent report in a newspaper described how a lone yachtsman was caught in a storm which broke the ship’s mast, and he had to limp back to port for repairs. The same kind of thing sometimes happens to a marriage. Maybe we have to re-think our whole life because disabling illness permanently cripples one of the partners, or a lucrative job beguiles us and we are seriously drawn away from Christ. It can happen if a third party has encroached on the preserves of marriage and drastic action is needed to keep the marriage together.

What to Do?

It is not open to us to abandon the marriage. The yachtsman had his mast repaired and put to sea again in the same vessel. Take a close look at your marriage-ship. Let’s suppose you have hit very rough and dangerous waters. How do we handle the ship in the storm?

Marriage is a partnership and we are inclined to regard the partners as the husband and the wife. Is that right? No! True marriage is a partnership between our two selves and Christ. It is possible, of course, to manage a marriage without Christ. Thousands of people do it and, in Britain, 40% of such marriages end in divorce. Four out of ten ships are wrecked in one way or another.

Christ is never shipwrecked. His vessel will not capsize. We need, therefore, to put our marriage in Christ’s hands – consciously, surely, and permanently.

Sometimes big problems arise because we neglected warning signs earlier on. Whatever the warning signs are, do something about them as soon as you know what they are. For example, communication between the two of you is suffering, arguments are constantly arising, interest in things spiritual is not good, daily work is taking over too much of your time, mutual trust is diminishing, money matters are not being handled satisfactorily, the intimate things of marriage are not what they should be, or any indicator that tells you that all is not well. Take note and apply as soon as possible the remedies which follow.

Guaranteed Helps

If you are married, ask yourself these simple questions: Is the Bible truly God’s word? Is Christ real to me? Do you and your partner talk together about these basic things? Do you pray together? Do you believe that if you really read God’s word every day, and truly believe that Christ is our compassionate mediator it would improve your life and your marriage? Then, why not do it?

This is not simply pious talk. It is the essence of a marriage with Christ at the helm.

Experience shows that some marriages are ‘this life’ marriages with spirituality tacked on. Other marriages have the Word-Christ threads throughout the very fabric of the partnership. The rest of us may lie somewhere in between, wanting to do the right thing but not always succeeding.

What If?

What if we hit rough seas? Is the Captain really aboard? Have we got the ship’s chart straight in front of us? Or are we going to send out our Mayday signals, even though we have been neglectful of the rules of the sea?

What if there was no Captain, no Book of life’s sea? All of us would be on a doomed voyage, and our children would be equally helpless because we would have nothing to tell them. Mercifully, the question, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” has been answered by, “Wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Have a look at your marriage, your courtship, your own life, and get back to square one, and apply the Word-Christ test to it. You will discover a new happiness and a wonderful assurance. Bring your difficulties, large and small, to the same test bench. Place your anxieties and concerns in God’s hands in prayer.

You will be genuinely surprised if you honestly keep yourself spiritually ‘shipshape’.

Communications

Ships at sea can check their position by taking their bearings on two known fixed points onshore. We have those bearings in the Word-Christ reckoning.

For everyone’s safety, crew members need to communicate with each other. So must we do in marriage and in courtship. We are not sole mariners in charge of our own ship. We are companions in need of each other – all the time. Keep your lines open and use them. Do not isolate yourself and imagine that the marriage or courtship will survive in some way. Please, communicate, communicate, communicate.

On a ship there is a ladder called ‘the companion way’. It joins together two separate parts of the ship. Use your companion way to keep yourself in constant touch with your partner. If you have to be away from home, remember to write, to telephone or, if you have it, use the e-mail.

These days mariners do not have to depend on bearings from the shore. Direct satellite readings are instantaneously available. That is truly wonderful and a great aid to safe sailing. We have even better bearings in prayer to our heavenly Father. Daily prayer steadies the ship, strengthens the crew and keeps us in God’s safe hands.

All will not be plain sailing. But the Pilot will bring us safely to our desired haven.

Therefore …

If you have problems, apply the sure remedies: communicate with each other always, let God communicate with you by unfailingly reading His word, and trust the Captain in prayer to God. The answer will come, “Peace, be still”. Your ship will come safely to land. Meanwhile, keep in touch with others in the great convoy of ships in fellowship with fellow-mariners in Christ