An Abiding Marriage
by
Bryan Craig

About 10 years ago, after I had been doing a few Journey groups with men in Tulsa, my wife and I hosted a meeting at our house for an Oklahoma congressman who was concerned about the state of marriages in Oklahoma. I reached out to men in my sphere of influence, and guess what? It was mostly Journey guys. Once you go through The Journey and experience transformation with a group of men, these become your “go to guys,” men you can trust. While at the meeting, I noticed that the men were clustered in a corner, acting as if they’d known each other forever, while the wives felt a bit disconnected and awkward.

We heard a lot of dismal statistics about marriage failures and heard lots of theories on how to fix the problem, from the counseling community to the spiritual community. Somewhere along the way, a thought came to me. The best way I know to help marriages is to take men through The Journey. When a man is transformed in Christ and begins to abide, he begins to become a better husband. Then, I thought, “What if married couples went through The Journey together?”

The next morning, I was anxious to call Rocky to see what he thought about my idea. Before I could tell him my thought, he said he wanted to run something by me. He had been at a community group meeting the night before, where they ate a meal, watched a Rick Warren teaching video and had some light discussion about it, then closed in prayer with shallow prayer requests. He said, “I think these people deserve more than that. What if we took couples through The Journey?” Of course, my jaw dropped, and I quickly knew the Spirit was at work. I proceeded to tell him my experience, and we both got excited.

So, we formed a curriculum committee and started meeting in earnest to work on a version of The Journey for Couples. We prayed a lot and labored in our thoughts about this. We all agreed that we didn’t need to change Enlightened, the first leg of The Journey since it was all about the intimate nature of God. Men and women both need to understand that. Then, we looked at Enabled, and believed that Abiding is for men and women, as well as The Holy Spirit and His gifts. So, we didn’t need to change that. Then, we looked at Expressing, and finally surrendered to something we already knew. The Holy Spirit did not want us to change the curriculum at all. Other than making the language gender-neutral and adding a few scriptures about marriage, we came to believe that the same curriculum that had worked with men’s groups and with women’s groups would work with couples. We also understood that our calling as a ministry was to get people Abiding, but it was the Spirit’s work to help them have a better marriage. So, trust the process.

Rocky started a pilot group in Northwest Arkansas, and I formed one in Tulsa, as we wanted to test our theories to see if they were from the Lord or just from us. Both of us felt opposition in different forms as we began these groups. It was a struggle, but I knew enough to know that if you are feeling a lot of spiritual opposition, you are usually on the right track. The devil must have sensed something special was about to happen and he was trying to thwart it. We pressed through.

Sure, there were differences in group dynamics of couples versus men, but I stayed true to the curriculum that I had seen do wonders in myself and other men. Maybe there were things that people didn’t share in mixed company, but I was reminded that The Journey is not about the horizontal relationships or about the sharing aspect. It is about each person’s vertical journey toward Christ. As a matter of fact, we told the couples not to look at each other as man and wife, but brother and sister during this Journey.

I watched some of the same things happen that I had seen in men’s Journey groups. People’s hearts started to soften to the Lord. They began to see that He loved them and that there was so much more of Him to know. God’s Word began to come alive in their hearts. Spiritual light bulbs were coming on each time we met. Men and Women alike began to abide in Christ. Challenges came, just like they do in every group I’ve led, and it was an opportunity for God to show off and bring experience to the theories.

But the beautiful thing for me was that I got to share all of this with the love of my life. Even though The Journey is an individual sport in many ways, I got to see the “marriage triangle” lived out in front of my eyes. As two people on opposite ends at the bottom of a triangle start moving diagonally up toward the apex, the distance between them gets smaller and smaller. I was growing closer to my wife, Missy, and I saw all our couples growing closer together. When we reached the part of the spiritual gifts, and I saw married couples affirming each other and realizing how and why God brought them together as a ministry couple, I knew why He wanted us to take couples through The Journey.

By the end of this process, I knew that this idea to take couples through The Journey was definitely from the Lord and not from Rocky or myself. I also discovered a beautiful gift that He wanted us to see. We learned what it looks like to have an Abiding Marriage.

When two people who are married each abide with Christ, they form an Abiding Marriage, and this is a powerful thing. Abiding marriages break spiritual strongholds and generational sin, they produce Godly children and grandchildren, they form ministry teams uniquely gifted to help communities, they form a Prayer Shield that is difficult to penetrate by the enemy, they give hope to those around them, they give life to everyone they touch, they bear fruit for eternity.

As much as I love men’s ministry and leading men’s Journey groups, I am a big proponent for Couple’s Journey Groups. I think God gives extra favor as we love our wives by abiding in Him with her. I’m now leading my fifth Couple’s Journey Group, and it is part a community group effort of a large church in the area. Once again, I’m seeing miraculous things happening, and the awesome thing is that this church is starting to take notice. Wouldn’t it be awesome if community groups at churches all over this country began to form Couple’s Journey Groups, and Abiding Marriages became the standard rather than the exception? Talk about transforming our churches and this culture!

Consider going on The Journey with your spouse, whether either or both of you have ever been through the process. If you have been through, consider leading a group. It may prove to be the most rewarding, impactful thing you have ever done. And it may just be the breath of life your marriage is needing.