[From Gail and Bob Together]

We held our meeting in a hotel restaurant, which is very unusual for us because Bob prefers to meet in church buildings. The church facility we were supposed to meet in was a rented space, and the owners decided to renovate – by the time we arrived, there was no roof. The venue we used instead was on the top floor of a two-story restaurant and was open to the air all around, the main area more enclosed, and the patio portion virtually outside though covered so people could sit there and still attend the seminar. There was a continuous breeze passing through which kept the atmosphere very comfortable, as opposed to the usual equatorial closed-in mugginess of any closed in space here.

The Marriage Seminar in Tororo, Uganda, at the Meritoria Hotel.

Bob did not enjoy another feature of this space, but Gail did very much. The roof was constructed of thatched straw which attracted many small birds nesting in the rafters above our heads and continually flying in and out all day. Bob was at the center of the room and spent his entire three days expecting imminent bombing from above – he taught the lessons with one eye to the lesson and one eye to the rafters and Gail observed that, more than any other venue she remembers, he never seemed to stop moving back and forth while he was teaching. He explained simply that a moving target is harder to hit. Somehow, he carried it off without too much angst. Gail, on the other hand, was blessed listening to the chirps and peeps that attended us throughout the three days, sweet music to her ears that did not disturb her at all. Bob now has a new respect for her contented calmness under duress. Gail is just sitting here and asking, “What duress??” and batting her innocent eyes at him.

Students enjoying the fellowship on the break.

Now to the heart of this post.  When Bob teaches, he has learned over the years that analogies are very powerful teaching tools to bring an abstract or “delicate” concept home. Discussing our Ten Principles of Marriage, he was able to use many helpful metaphors to illustrate his teaching points. Here are some of the analogies God has given us over the years to understand this difficult and fulfilling challenge called marriage.

Marriage Principle #1 – Have a Christian Marriage – The fruit of the Spirit metaphor of how this fruit just grows naturally from the presence of God in the marriage partners just as a “tree” never has to stress and struggle to produce its fruit.

Marriage Principle # 2 –  Marriage is a Covenant Relationship – We talked about how the modern wedding ceremony in the West and in Uganda is full of symbols and analogies of two people making a covenant together – the exchange of gifts (rings), exchange of drink and food, walking the aisle between the two parts of the couple’s family – bride’s family on the left and groom’s on the right, etc., all which demonstrates that marriage is supposed to be a covenant instead of a Contract.

Marriage Principle #3 – The Purpose of Marriage – The analogy throughout the Bible of marriage as a picture of God’s relationship with His people, the husband representing Christ, and the wife representing the Church (Eph. 5:21 to end).

Marriage Principle #4 – Understand the Blessing – How a healthy Christian marriage holds up a continual teaching picture for the children so that the child is given a positive and hopeful picture of his or her future, which is part of the Blessing we are responsible to pass from generation to generation.

Gail teaching at the Marriage Conference in Tororo.

Marriage Principle #5 – Understand Biblical Love – In our discussion of the different kinds of love, God led Bob to share the story of the prodigal son from Luke. He modeled how the father would come to his door each day and look out across his fields to the roadway, yearning to see his younger son returning to him. He showed how the son wasted his inheritance and how he was brought low and decided to return, knowing that his father had every right to punish him by making him a servant in the house. Then he showed how the father, when he saw the distant figure of his son returning to him, ran out to meet him and how he threw his arms around him and weeping, welcomed him home and held a great celebration for the return of his lost child. Bob actually threw his arms around his translator and embraced him, crying out, “My son, my son, you have come home.” And then he quietly described to the hushed audience the unconditional love of God that is necessary to have a successful marriage.

Obviously we seem to have more to say about this subject than we thought. For now, blessings on your day.

[To be continued tomorrow.]