Myths - Believe It Or Not
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And They Lived Happily Ever After

We're looking at Malachi 2, beginning in verse 13, "Another thing you do: You flood the Lord's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 'I hate divorce,' says the Lord God of Israel,..."

This one great myth that they lived happily ever after gives rise to three other myths. Real quickly, the first one is: We come to marriage with exactly the same expectations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many times men come to marriage expecting it to be full of just sex, and women come expecting it to be full of romance.

For instance, let's say that she thinks this is going to be stability and dependability. Her vision is that they'll be working in the garden alongside. His idea of marriage is excitement and spontaneity. For him it is riding a motorcycle. They both have different expectations.

Another little myth that rises out of this is: Everything good in my marriage will get better. It may not get better. It may get worse because we have to give up things. One of the things we have to give up is our childhood. We cease being a child; and that's tough. The second thing is: I have to give up a free lifestyle. Marriage is kind of like a beautiful tree right in the middle of a house. Beautiful! But you have to go around it. It gets in the way sometimes. You run into it. You get the picture. And the honeymoon ends, and the work begins.

I'll tell you the number one problem in marriage and causes more problems and more divorces than anything else. They find out they married a Fallible Human Being. All of a sudden they realize they married a human being who makes mistakes, who's not always right, who messes up, and all of a sudden they can't deal with that. It's the fact that they married a human being and they have to work at this marriage. It won't necessarily get better. It may get worse. They knew they had to work a little bit, but they didn't know it was seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Do you know that the average marriage, the average ceremony is a 200-guests list and costs today between $15,000 and $30,000? Now when I saw that, I thought how tragic. They spend more time, more money, more energy, more plan and detail than they spend on the marriage all to make everything right for the ceremony and nothing to work to make the marriage go.

Another myth that rises out of that big myth is...the first thing we come to the marriage with the same expectations, and everything good will get better. The third one is: Everything bad will disappear. Because now you will make me whole and you will complete my life. Not true. All the bad that's there will continue to be there. The ills don't go away. You have to work at it for it to happen, folks. And it's not some magic just because I get married. Many, I think, ladies particularly, think that they have this vision, it may be subconscious that one day the handsome prince will ride along and he will just carry me away into never, never land and we'll live happily ever after. Folks, that is a myth. It won't happen.

Can you imagine Cinderella? Hey, she came from a kitchen, and she's going to live with this guy with pomp and ceremony. They don't even have anything in common. Can you imagine that? Educationally, nothing else, and they're going to live happily ever after? Then when you look at the facts, half, more than half of the marriages that are taking place today will not make it. They will crash. I tell my students at school, you can go on the street and blindfold yourself and throw darts and do better than 50%.

Here's the way it ought to end. I said half the marriages are ending in divorce, but here is God's plan. Here's the way it ought to end:

They had all but given up

When she and Edwin fell in love.

She touched his face and shook her head.

In disbelief she smiled and said,

In many dreams I've held you near,

Now at last you're really here.

Where've you been?

I've looked for you forever and a day.

Where've you been?

I'm just not myself when you're away.

He asked her for her hand for life,

And she became a salesman's wife.

He was home each night by eight,

But one stormy evening he was late.

Her frightened tears fell to the floor

Till his key turned in the door.

Where've you been?

I've looked for you forever and a day.

Where've you been?

I'm just not myself when you're away.

They never spent a night apart,

For 60 years she heard him snore.

Now they're in a hospital

In separate beds on different floors.

They seem lost to memories,

Forgot the names of family.

She never spoke a word again,

Then one day they wheeled him in.

He held her hand and stroked her hair,

In a fragile voice she said,

Where've you been?

I've looked for you forever and a day.

Where've you been?

I'm just not myself when you're away.

No, I'm just not myself when you're away.

That's the way it ought to end. It's not live happily ever after. It is work and work. It is commitment. It is making a covenant that he talked about here in Malachi 2. The whole nation of Israel knew what it was to make a covenant. They knew their own nation was based on that. Just like we understand what a constitution is in America; there wouldn't be an America without a constitution. There wouldn't be an Israel without a covenant. And so here God was saying you make a covenant within the covenant. It's a covenant they live by and you make a covenant before God that you're going to live with your wife, and you're going to be faithful to your wife. You make this kind of commitment. That's what makes marriage work, and that's what makes it last. Not because you're just happy.

I'm convinced personally, I'm leading a class now that we're teaching on His Needs, Her Needs from Job, I think it's the greatest thing that I've seen on marriage because it catches them upstream before they get to the waterfall. Most everything that we do in the church to try to help marriages is after they come over the waterfall, and we try to catch them and we miss. It's messy, get the picture. We try to clean it up, and you can't clean it up. So you get up the waterfall and you talk about how to love each other, meet each other's needs. But I'm convinced we can't meet enough of each other's needs at times unless we're committed. We just have to be committed. I am convinced it is the only way. That is the first thing, the commitment to marriage. And that we will stay, we will work it out. Then we can start meeting each other's needs and hopefully we can fall in love.

I grew up in Alabama; I grew up in the woods down here in the country. I mean we lied so far back in the country that we had to go toward town to hunt. That's country isn't it? We didn't get the Grand Ole Opry until Monday. The sun set between our house and town, it seemed like. We were so poor in those days we had to go down to Kentucky Fried Chicken just to lick other people's fingers. That's poor, isn't it? But do you know what came out of those woods in those days in that country? That philosophy came out that a man's word is his bond. What you say, you will do. When you give your word, when you shake your hand, that is it. You never go back on your word. That's what came out of there. It's called finishing what you start. That's what it's called. You finish what you start. You stay with it.

Love says love never fails. What it means is that love is persistent, love keeps on keeping on. We just quit too soon. Did you know that? In my class, I mean even in school, two weeks ago, it happens every semester. I can't believe it. I look around and say, "Where's Joe?" And somebody will say, "Well, I think he quit." And I say, "Quit! He can't quit. There are just two weeks to go." "He quit!" I couldn't believe it.

And here's the scenario. Your kid wants to get in band, right? So you rent this horn, and they get in band. Two weeks later, they come back and say, "Well, I didn't know you had to march. I quit." Then they want to get in track, and they come back and say, "I didn't know you had to run." They quit. Then in football, "I didn't know you got hit." They didn't stay in anything longer than two weeks. These are the same kids who are walking down this aisle and saying, "Until death do us part." Do you understand what I am saying? These kids haven't stayed in anything that's been tough for over two weeks; and here they are coming down and saying, "We want to get married," it's a laughing...that's what I'm saying. Somehow as parents, teach your kids to finish what you start. You don't have to play football next year, but you gave your word this year. You finish what you start. You gave your word, that's the greatest thing you can teach your children. It's not just get married and you live happily ever after. It is work and work and stay with it and committing to something that you never give up and you look back on.

By the way, let me stop and say lest I forget, I'm not talking about the past, okay? I'm not condemning anybody, I'm not making any judgments. Some of you are divorced, you had no choice, and you didn't want it to be that way. We're not talking about anything that is has happened in the past, I'm talking about from today when you make a stand, from today. I'm talking about putting up a sign, literally, put up a sign saying, "We will stay." Bring the children in and let them read it and sign it and date it, this is it. You don't have to wonder, especially the young kids. Their greatest fear is that you will leave them. It is their greatest fear. Put it on the lawn and let the neighbors see it, if you have to. "We will stay, this is it." And now we're committed to working it out. See that's the difference.

I don't perform many weddings. I'm not in town long enough. I mean seriously, you've got to be there three or four days. You've got to rehearse the rehearsal, rehearse the dinner, I say, "Get married, man." We're going to have a party at the 50th anniversary that's so big a show dog can't jump over it. We'll get excited about that. That's what I'm saying. Don't spend all your time, money, energy and effort on this; put something in your marriage.

You know I don't do very many weddings, but I'll tell you what I want to do. I'm not this mean, I just feel the coach coming out in me. I just sound mean. But I'd like to say, "Will you just lay this on the line, today?" How long is this for? Could we just be honest? Is this until death do us part, or until divorce do us part? By the way, if your theology, listen to me, if your theology lasts till divorce, can we just take vows out. Is that okay with you? I'd just like to ask them? Is this until somebody who just turns you on, or if you don't find they fulfill you, they don't fulfill you, you just want don't want to be married anymore. How long is this for? Can we just tell it like it is? I'd like to read them Malachi 2 again. God hates divorce, always has, always will, and always does. I'm not talking about the past, folks, I'm talking about from today. I'd like to read them from Ephesians 5 where God says it is better not to make a vow than to make a vow and not keep it. God is serious about what you say. So here before God and witnesses today, can we just lay this on the line? Is this just kind of a promise, or is this a commitment and a covenant before God, which is this? That's what I'd like to ask.

You know Stan Cantrell, a man that was a long distance runner, when I say "long," I mean looong. I ran a marathon once, but I got over it. I'm just like that boy who jumped out of a 23rd story window. He said, just as soon as he jumped, that was the biggest mistake he ever made. Well, I got this thing out of my system. Stan Cantrell, he ran real quickly all across China, he ran 2,000 miles from the end of the wall through the huts and villages, he ran 53 consecutive days averaging over 42 miles a day. I couldn't believe that. Stan said he ran a thousand miles with a cracked vertebra. He ran three weeks in a driving rainstorm. He said when his feet were so intense and just bleeding and his nerves were on edge, that he just had to stop. Somebody would come running up and say, "There are many people waiting for you in the next village, and your coming will bring endless joy." Have you ever felt that tug? Have you ever felt that pull? That somebody is counting on you, and somebody is depending on you, and your coming and your going will make a difference. The little girl looks at dad and says, "Dad, if you leave, you will take good out of goodbye."

We have counseling on our campus, and we still counsel more kids because their parents divorced, more than any other single, all the rest of them put together. It never goes away. William Bennett, if he has any touch of what's happening in America, the value book you may remember. He says in his opinion, "Of all the things that are happening in America, the greatest, greatest deterrent in America is not drugs, and alcohol, and homosexuality, it is still the breakdown of the family. Divorce is still...it is the hotbed and the seed for all the rest of it.

Charleton Heston, as he stood before the graduating class at Pepperdine, simply said this to them. "You don't have to make promises. But if you'll make them and if you'll keep them, your world and mine will be a better place" and sat down. You don't have to make promises, you don't have to make vows, but if you make them, and if you keep them, your world and my world will be a better world.

My son-in-law, Rod Pringle, is quite a songwriter. If you've seen my films, he has written the music just instantly, captured the whole message in just a sentence or two. I was to go to the national Save the Family Conference in Dallas and they wanted me to close with a re-pledge of love. They wanted me to sing a song. I said, "Rod you've got to write me a song." And I told him what I wanted; and it's an awesome song. Today, if you're here with your wife, if you'll commit your love again, it's not to live happily ever after, it's a commitment---If you'll commit your love again, I'll sing to her for you:

I can still see you standing there,

See your eyes and touch your hair.

And even after all these years,

It brings my face a smile.

As you walk down the aisle to me,

I pledge my love for all to see.

A love that would stay true and strong

And stand the test of time.

And let me take your hand again

Look into my eyes and then

I will say I do with all my heart

Pledge my love again.

One more time I make this vow

That as long as God allows,

I will stand by you and promise to

Love you always the best that I know how.

Through the years our love has grown

From all the ups and downs we've known.

And two young lovers now have come

To be the best of friends.

Hand in hand we'll walk down heaven's road,

Arm in arm we'll share each other's load,

And I will be there by your side

Till this old world shall end.

And let me take your hand again

Look into my eyes and then

I will say, "I do" with all my heart

Pledge my love again.

One more time I make this vow

That as long as God allows,

I will stand by you and promise to

Love you always the best that I know how.

A pledge to keep, commitment, a vow before God. You see so many times when I'm standing here at the ceremony and you ask, "Do you take her for better or worse, in sickness and health, in riches or poor," he thinks that's a multiple choice question. It isn't multiple choice. When Peteroski came to America to do his concert, there were ties, tux, it was high society. Her mother brought a little nine-year-old boy just hoping he could see the great one and want to practice. They were there early. He was fidgety. She turned around to visit with some friends, and he couldn't stand it anymore, that lighted stage and padded leather bench, and that Steinway. He jumped up there and slipped on that stage and no one saw him. With his little fingers he began to play Chopsticks. Well the audience was horrified that someone would even touch the piano that the great...Someone said, "Who brought that kid? Get him down from here. Who would bring a kid here anyway?" The master heard him from the back. He slipped on his coat and never said a word, came out of the curtain and slipped his arms around the boy and placed his fingers and began to play a counter melody that harmonized and enriched Chopsticks. And all the time he's playing, he's whispering in the little boy's ear, "Don't quit, don't quit, keep playing, keep playing." And I'm telling you today folks, the things that we do in life it seems so insignificant like playing Chopsticks, but if we'll keep playing, if we'll just keep playing, if you'll stay where you're supposed to stay, keep the commitment to God, one day Jesus will slip his arms around us and he'll play a counter melody that will enhance what we're doing and glorify it. He'll get the praise and glory. All the time he's whispering to us, "Don't quit, don't quit, stay where you are." I'm telling you that music will sound like a Concerto in A-flat minor one day, if you will stay.

And they lived happily ever after? No, they worked at it. They made a vow. They made a commitment. Lesson #1249 Go To Top Of The Page