As the pastor for median adults at First Baptist Dallas, I not only hear from a lot of couples working through “empty nest” adjustments, but my wife and I are also right in the middle of the empty nest. Truly it is a different season of life. Both of our children have graduated from college and married. In every season of our marriage and our children’s growing years, our goals have looked different. Now in this empty nest season, our primary goals are to save for retirement and take a few key trips abroad for missions and personal development. Another big goal is to continue to work on our marriage in this season, and that requires marriage maintenance.
Granted, not all relationships survive this phase of marriage. It can have its challenges. I am thankful that I am not the same man I was 30 years ago. I pray that I have grown spiritually and emotionally for my wife, my family, and my employer. I pray that God continues to hewn me for His use and His glory. I know He isn’t finished with me yet. I dare say He isn’t finished with you yet either. As long as we have life and breath this side of heaven, we have a duty to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself. There is no greater demonstration of love than to share the hope of Christ with our neighbor.
In Psalm 78, the writer virtually begs the children of Israel to keep telling the story. In that illustration, the writer emphasizes the fact that telling the stories of God impacts future generations. We can see that it only takes one generation to stop telling the story. Throughout history we can see where agnostic generations rise up and pull away from their creator God. If we are to be the men and women God has called us to be; if we are to be the mentors to our own children and future generations; if we are to be the beacon of light to our church body and community then we MUST be diligent for Bible study and prayer. We must be on guard for the enemy’s traps and snares.
It is easy for us to get comfortable and to think that we’ve “got this.” We can be rocking along day to day, but then something knocks our feet from beneath us. We lose our balance, and we quickly take a tumble. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that we must be ready for everything Satan might throw our direction. We could fall into anxiety or depression as we fret over the pandemic. We could take a second glance at an inappropriate ad or photograph on the internet and fall into pornography. We could let our guard down and start ignoring our spouse, treating them more as a roommate than a gift from God. We are clearly reminded in 1 Peter 5:8 to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” I have always believed that to be true, but I believe it now more than ever. I’ve seen with my own eyes how relationships are being torn apart, marriages are dissolving, and people are losing their jobs due to moral failures stemming directly from a lack of discipline.
Today’s mid-life marriage maintenance advice is to be on guard always! You never know who is watching. Your reputation, and more importantly the reputation of Christ, is on the line. As we live our daily lives carefree and without caution, we can set an example for others and send messages that we may never intend to send. No, we do not have to live perfect lives. But we do need to exercise extreme caution. George Washington said, “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” Always be on guard!