Bernie was a new Christian. He was excited to serve God in the church he attended, so he approached one of the pastors. The pastor asked him a few questions and Bernie had to admit that he did not have a good relationship with his wife. The pastor told him that God’s priority was a close marriage relationship. Church work came second.
When Bernie heard that, his eyes fell. He muttered, “How am I supposed to do that?” He’d been married nearly ten years and it seemed to him that nothing he did worked out right. A good marriage seemed impossible. He dreaded hearing another hopeless to-do list, but the pastor’s answer surprised him.
“Bernie, does your wife work at her relationship with God?” Bernie had to admit that she did. “Then your part is easy; you simply need to also work on your relationship with God.”
Bernie asked how that would help. The pastor made a triangle with his fingers and explained, “God invented marriage and He places Himself over it at the top corner. The man and wife are the other two corners on the bottom. What happens to them as they move up the sides of the triangle closer to God?”
Bernie quickly saw that as the two moved closer to God, they also moved closer to each other. He was intrigued, but wondered out loud, “How can I move closer to God?”
The pastor offered another illustration. He held up his coffee cup and said, “You are like this cup. As a believer in Christ, you are open to the ministry of God who daily pours Himself into your life, just like we pour coffee into a cup. Most of the time, you gladly receive His ministry, but what happens if you sin?”
Bernie thought for a minute. “I fall over . . . I turn from God. And everything inside gets dumped out.”
The pastor laughed as he tipped the empty cup. “Yes, that’s about it. The openness to God is gone too. You can’t receive from Him anymore . . . at least until you get right-side-up again. Do you know how to do that, how to get back under the blessings of God?”
Bernie thought for a minute. He was a new Christian, but he knew that if he “confessed his sins, God was faithful and just to forgive his sins and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.” He learned that verse from 1 John in adult Sunday School. He recited the verse to the pastor.
The pastor said, “Right on, Bernie!” and turned the cup upright again. “You also realize, Bernie, that you will go through life like this . . . ” and he tipped the cup and up righted it several times. He added, “The best you can do is shorten the down time and lengthen the upright time.”
Bernie smiled. He was new at this but he already found out that God could give him new ideas and attitudes. He was joyful when he used to be sad, patient when he used to be agitated, loving when he used to be resentful. He could easily see how being right-side-up applied to an improved marriage.
Today, Bernie is still working at keeping his cup upright before the Lord. In the meantime, his marriage amazes him with the depth of its intimacy and its strength. He now is quick to tell others if you want a deeper relationship with someone, first get right with God!
(true story, names changed) © 2002 by Elsie Montgomery