Encouragement for Chasing Boldly After God Together

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In today’s episode on the Marriage After God podcast, our goal is to encourage you on your pursuit to chase after God. Everyone needs encouragement and to be reminded of the hope they have from time to time. We urge you to listen thoughtfully to this episode and share it with your spouse or anyone else that could use some cheering.

“The first encouragement we want to give all of you on your journey is: don’t be afraid! This journey can be fear-filled sometimes, and the enemy wants to make us afraid. So, I just wanted to read this verse, Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.'” – Aaron Smith

We pray this message leaves you hopeful as well as excited about God’s plan and purpose for you.

 

READ TRANSCRIPT

Aaron:
Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

Jennifer Smith:
Help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Aaron:
And today we’re going to give some encouragement for couples chasing boldly after God together. Welcome to the marriage after God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.

Jennifer Smith:
I’m Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife.

Aaron:
And I’m Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution.

Jennifer Smith:
We have been married for over a decade.

Aaron:
And so far we have four young children.

Jennifer Smith:
We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years, through blogging and social media.

Aaron:
With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.

Jennifer Smith:
We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one full of life.

Aaron:
Love.

Jennifer Smith:
And power.

Aaron:
That can only be found by chasing after God.

Jennifer Smith:
Together.

Aaron:
Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God’s will for our life together.

Jennifer Smith:
This is Marriage After God. Hey guys, thanks so much for joining us this week. And we, before we jump into today’s topic, wanted to encourage you as always to leave us a review. If you haven’t had time to do this already, now would be a great time. You can leave a star rating review, and or a comment review. And we just want you to know that these really encourage us. So many of you have done this already, and we just want to say a big thank you to everyone who’s done that. But if you haven’t done that yet, we just wanted to invite you to leave us a review.

Aaron:
Also, we created a free prayer challenge. Hundreds and hundreds of couples have already gone through this prayer challenge, and we want to invite you to participate. Marriageprayerchallenge.com is where you go to sign up. It’s completely free. And if you’re the wife, you choose the wife prayer challenge. If you’re the husband, you choose the husband prayer challenge. And we will send you an email every day for 31 days with prayer prompts to pray for your spouse. And we want to make this to encourage your prayer life, to inspire your prayer life, and to challenge you to get into prayer daily for your spouse. And so that’s marriageprayerchallenge.com. It’s completely free. Go check that out today.

Jennifer Smith:
All right guys, before we jump into today’s topic, Aaron and I had an extremely beautiful, and incredible surprise that we got to share with each other this week. And so we just wanted to take a second to highlight that. We know a lot of you follow us on social media and so you probably already heard the news. For those of you who your main thing is just listening to the podcast. We found out this week that we are having a sweet little baby girl.

Aaron:
We found out the gender.

Jennifer Smith:
We are so excited.

Aaron:
Yeah, and for those that don’t know, this would be number five for us. And we’ve been in the dark about the gender two times.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. Every other time.

Aaron:
Every other times. We found out with Elliot. We didn’t find out with Olive. We found with [Wyre 00:02:52]. We didn’t find out with [Trude 00:02:53].

Jennifer Smith:
Here’s why, because I like to find out, and Aaron doesn’t, so this is our little gift to each other back and forth.

Aaron:
Right, but we’re not even, so that means we have to go to the next one, and then we’re going to have to keep going. But…

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, I did think it was pretty sweet after we found out we were having a girl. Aaron said, “Well we got a full house.” But like we really do have a full house. And I love it. It’s so fun.

Aaron:
And I just want everyone to know that, the reason we would like to bring these topics up about our children, is not to boast about our children. It’s because we love children. We’re excited that our family’s growing. Is it difficult? Yes, but it’s so good. It’s so fruitful. The Bible says… Everything the Bible says about children is good things. So we just want to be positive affirmers of childbearing. Of rearing children.

Jennifer Smith:
Children are a blessing.

Aaron:
They are a blessing. So we just want to let you all know about our journey with children. So that was just a little side note about our little baby Edith that’s coming in March, and we’re so excited about that.

Jennifer Smith:
Okay, now can I go.

Aaron:
Yeah. So we’re going to be… This is just a fairly straight forward episode. We just thought so many people are going through our book, Marriage After God right now, and many, many, many couples have had our devotionals, Marriage After God, and Wife After God, and our prayer books, 31 Prayer For My Husband, 31 Prayers For My Wife. All these marriages, they’re chasing after God. They said, “We want more of God. We want to find out what he’s doing in our life. We want to chase his will for our life together.”

Aaron:
And they’re doing it boldly. And you know what? Sometimes we need to be encouraged in our pursuit, and that’s what we want to do. We want to encourage you, the listener, in your pursuit as husband and wife, in your pursuit of God, in your pursuit of holiness in your pursuit of what God’s doing in his will for your life, and the ministry that He’s uniquely created you to do as a couple. And so that’s kind of what we’re going to do.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, and if you have the opportunity to share this episode with your spouse, I’d say do that, or listen to it together.

Aaron:
With them, yeah. And then also share it with someone you know that needs some encouragement in their journey, in their faith, in their journey towards knowing God more, and hearing him better and pursuing him.

Jennifer Smith:
And that same journey of just building unity within their marriage.

Aaron:
Yeah. So we have 10 encouragements we’re going to walk through. We’re going to give some scripture, and we’re just going to share about it. It’s going to be fairly straight forward, but just want you to be encouraged by this. So what we’ll do is we’ll just go right into number one, and the first encouragement we want to give to all those that are listening in your journey is, don’t be afraid.

Aaron:
Don’t be afraid. This journey can be fearful sometimes, the enemy wants to make us afraid. And I just wanted to read… So I just want to read this verse Jeremiah 17:7-8. It says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when he comes. For its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Aaron:
This verse is very reminiscent of Psalm one. But this is in Jeremiah, and it’s just this idea of like when our trust is in the Lord, when our trust is the Lord, which is… I love how it says that, “We’re like a tree planted by water.” We always have what we need. We’re sturdy. And even when things come, like the heat, right? When the fears and the trials and the struggles come that we don’t fear. We’re not going to fear withering. We press forward.

Jennifer Smith:
I love the fact that this is a beautiful picture for us to remember. I think it’s sometimes easier for us to remember pictures versus words. So I bet the next time we feel afraid, or fearful, or overwhelmed, or anxious, we’re probably going to get this image of a tree planted by a stream in our minds. And hopefully we do, so that we’re encouraged about what this scripture is saying to encourage us.

Aaron:
Yeah. Trust in the Lord, and we will have no reason to fear.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. One thing I thought about this encouragement, was just that this world is dark. The culture that we live in-

Aaron:
Yeah all you’re going to do is listen to the radio, or turn on the TV.

Jennifer Smith:
There is evil everywhere. And it’s not like we can avoid it, or pretend like it’s not happening.

Aaron:
Right.

Jennifer Smith:
But we do live here, and we can’t be afraid. We have to put our trust in God.

Aaron:
Be bold and just know that He’s our fortress. He’s our shelter. He’s good. He is our trust.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. So the things that are happening in this world, we can’t let it push us into a corner, or make us feel less than… We have to remain and continue chasing boldly after God.

Aaron:
So I just want to give a quick story about something that… In chasing after God, and asking God what he had for us. One of the things that recently came up with us, was branching off from our home church to start another home church.

Jennifer Smith:
Right. One of the reasons is it makes room for more people and…

Aaron:
Exactly. Our home church was growing so large and-

Jennifer Smith:
… deeper intimacy.

Aaron:
… it was time. We needed to branch so that they can grow. And we were one of the couples to help start the branch, this new home church. And you know what? In that season, it was a little scary. We were like, “Well what’s this going to mean? Are we going to have to hang out with?” We had all these relationships. We just were so close within love and we’re like, “Are we ever going to see them as much? And it’s going to be different, and who’s going to come? And how’s this going to work?”

Aaron:
And we just had to again, trust God, “God, you’re doing this. This is a good thing. You’re going to make it… Well you made it work before, you’ve grown us, and shown us, and taught us. You’re going to continue to do that.” And that’s what we had to lean on during that season. And you know what? How awesome have you felt with our new home church?

Jennifer Smith:
It’s been great. It’s been really incredible. And with that example, I can say this is true, but also probably for many others, when you are stepping out and doing things in ministry, or trying to persevere in a call that God has spoken to you, that we get afraid because of unknowns. And-

Aaron:
What does this mean? How’s it going to work?

Jennifer Smith:
… that can become a trigger for why we feel afraid. And so it’s really important that even in those moments we trust in God. Going back to that word, trust. And something that’s really been encouraging to me, is the times that I’m afraid and I… Especially because of those unknowns, or I don’t understand something. I find so much comfort in trusting you, Aaron, in the way that you lead our family, and make decisions.

Jennifer Smith:
And so I just wanted to share that, to encourage the women and the wives who are listening, that God has given us a gift in our husbands, and we can enjoy that comfort and that place of security when we trust in our husbands, especially when they’re trusting in the Lord. It’s just been a huge encouragement to me.

Aaron:
So don’t be afraid. Number two, and this kind of goes along with it, don’t grow weary, because it can get wearisome. The day in the day out, the pursuing God, the steps towards what he’s put in front of you. For us it’s our online ministry, and it’s our books, and-

Jennifer Smith:
It’s our children.

Aaron:
… it’s our children, and it’s our home church. And sometimes it just gets difficult, and drudgery it can feel like.

Jennifer Smith: Well, I think sometimes we can be impatient to want to see the fruit. And so when we don’t see like the benefit of, “Why are we doing this in the first place,” it can feel like, I don’t know. Sometimes that weariness is more apparent to us than the actual fruit that’s happening, because it takes time to mature. So I don’t know. That’s-

Aaron:

I think about people that are praying earnestly for someone’s salvation, or healing, or a burden that they’re going through, and you’re just praying like, “Lord, release them from this. Help them in this. Change them Lord.” Right? And that could get burdensome and wearisome like, “Lord, I’ve been praying for so long. Why hasn’t it changed? Why isn’t he changing? Why isn’t she changing? Why am I not seeing the fruit of my labor?” And again, don’t grow weary.

Jennifer Smith:
Persevere. Keep going.

Aaron:
I think of Galatians 6:9, it says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”

Jennifer Smith:
Don’t give up. Also Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Aaron:
Yeah. And there’s this idea of, in running a race and we cast off the sin so easily besets us. And it’s a journey that we’re on, but it takes a consistency of movement. That we’re not stopping, because the moment we stop, we’re moving backwards. And so it’s like, “No, move forward. Take that next step. Keep going.” And again, not fearing, because we just talked about that, and remembering who our prize is. Our prize is in heaven. It’s eternity with the father.

Aaron:
We have the prize now even in our salvation in Christ, and knowing that he’s the one helping us move. As Paul said, “It’s no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.” He’s moving in us. And so I also think of that scripture that Jesus said, “All you who are heavy burden, heavy Laden, I will give you rest,” and that’s who our God is. And so don’t grow weary.

Jennifer Smith:
You gave some really great examples just a little while ago about what this could look like, and not growing weary, and doing those things. But I also just want to speak to the mundane for a second, because I think so often our day to day life is not super impressive to the world’s standards.

Aaron:
Yeah, there’s not a miracle that is happening and…

Jennifer Smith:
Well, we can easily get in that comparison trap, especially through social media of like, “Well. I’m not doing what they’re doing, or I’m not this person. I’m not up on this platform,” or any of those comparisons. And so we belittle the impact we have with the mundane, and that could look like so many different things. I know for me it’s the day in and day out of having four, almost five little kids who we’re homeschooling, and we’re taken care of. And so changing diapers and… I think those examples are used a lot when you talk about the mundane. But I think for a lot of people, it probably-

Aaron:
It’s reality.

Jennifer Smith:
… looks a little bit different. Maybe it’s going to that nine to five job that you don’t feel like has an impact. But think about all the people there that you get to influence and- [crosstalk 00:13:43]

Aaron:
And why God has you there.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, why does God have you in those moments? Even if those moments feel mundane, and don’t grow weary in doing good even in those smallest opportunities that you have, because what’s that verse about working into the Lord.

Aaron:
We’re doing all things because of the lord.

Jennifer Smith:
We’re not doing it for man’s sake. We’re not doing it for ourself.

Aaron:
Hey Marriage After God family. Jennifer and I have been parents for over six years now, and we have our fifth child on the way. But that by no means makes us experts. I don’t know about you, but there are many days where I literally feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But the one thing I am sure of, is that it is my wife’s and my responsibility to raise our kids to know God and His word, especially in the world we live in today.

Aaron:
That is why it is so important that we reach out for help from other Godly Christian parents when we need it, and sometimes we may just need some friendly reminders and encouragement. With that being said, we want to introduce you to our good friends, Isaac and Angie Tolpin, from the courageous parenting podcast. They’re offering our listeners completely free parenting workshop, where you will learn six keys to equipping covenant Christian kids for an uncertain world.

Aaron:
Isaac and Angie Tolpin have eight kids, ranging from young adult to toddler, and have been married for over 20 years and they’ve been our close personal friends for over five years. Please take a moment today and register for their free workshop at courageousparenting.com Now, please enjoy the rest of this episode uninterrupted. We are doing all things-[crosstalk 00:15:05]

Jennifer Smith:
We’re not doing it for man’s sake. We’re not doing it for ourselves. We’re doing it unto Him for his glory.

Aaron:
I want to read a story in 2nd Chronicles about a King. One of the Kings of Judah, I think the third King of Judah, his name’s King, I think it’s Asa. In chapter 15 it says this, the spirit of God came upon Azariah, the son of Oded, and went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, ASA and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you. But if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

Aaron:
For a long time Israel was without a true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when in their distress, they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel and sought him, he was found by them. In those times. There was no peace to him who went out, or to him who came in. For great disturbance, afflicted all the inhabitants of the land. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. But you take courage. Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

Aaron:
As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah, the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. This was a story of a King who just entered into a wicked kingdom. His father served idols, and he heard the word of the Lord through Azariah and said, “No, I’m going to go, and do what God’s called me to do, and I’m not going to let my hand be weak.”

Aaron:
He was encouraged, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do to you listening, is to encourage you so that you hear the word of the Lord and the encouragement to continue and go to do that, which seems hard. This is a King that when… And it goes into saying he tore down all the different idols and he brought out the Holy items. And he did all these things it was like… They call it religious reform in this chapter, he brought the nation back to God, this one man. And he was encouraged to not let his hands be weak, but to continue on and to do that thing that God had for him to do. It was Asa’s job to do.

Aaron:
And so I just want to encourage you, God has a job for you. He’s says, “I got a ministry for you, a plan for you to not grow weary and be encouraged,” and take these words and say, “Oh, we’re going to move forward. We’re going to persevere.”

Jennifer Smith:
That’s really good. I have one more thing that I want to share very quickly on this. And it’s… We already talked about trees earlier, but it has to do with that. I was thinking about-

Aaron:
You like your analogies.

Jennifer Smith:
I know I like pictures. Maybe you guys are with me on that, but we started this garden when we moved into our house, then we planted some fruit trees. And when I think about, “Don’t grow weary,” I think my fruit trees, because it takes time, especially if you get them as babies, to mature, to be able to produce a fruit that you can actually enjoy.

Aaron:
A good fruit.

Jennifer Smith:
And also throughout the year you get to watch them go through different seasons and it takes so long. I remember we were going… We were traveling in the spring time to visit our family, and I was so worried that I was going to miss their blossoms, the fruit blossoms because it is so beautiful. But there’s different seasons that you get to experience before you enjoy that fruit. And so part of not growing weary is actually enjoying those different seasons that you’re put in, and seeing why God has you there.

Aaron:
Yeah. Knowing that you’re being cultivated to bear good fruit. All right. Number three, remember you’re not alone. That’s a good one, because sometimes we can feel alone, especially when we’re pursuing God and we’re, and we feel like we’re hearing from Him and we’re chasing after something He’s given us, and we…

Aaron:
There might not be a lot of people in our lives that are in the same place as us. Not that we’re better, it’s just we’re in a different place. I know for a long time we were the only one out of people that we knew that had children, had a child, and that that can feel lonely, or five children. But luckily we have a lot of people that have large families now. But-

Jennifer Smith:
I even want to point out this in the beginning of our marriage when we are going through a lot of hardship, I felt really lonely. I don’t know if you did honey, but I felt lonely in our marriage-

Aaron:
Oh, yeah.

Jennifer Smith:
… because of how we were struggling with intimacy, and struggling with each other. And so even in marriage, even though there’s two people in a marriage, you can feel lonely if you guys aren’t… When we weren’t communicating, we weren’t building up our friendship, we weren’t being intimate with each other. And that had a really big impact on me, because I… When you feel lonely, when you feel alone, it does feel hard to do stuff.

Aaron:
Oh yeah. But I want to encourage this that if there’s a marriage where the husband may be, pursuing God and the wife isn’t, or the wife is pursuing God and the husband isn’t, that even in those situations, and you may feel alone in your marriage, you’re not alone. And I want to start with 2nd Corinthians 4:8-10. It says this, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed. Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifest in our bodies. Jesus is in us. His death and life are in us and with us.”

Aaron:
And Jesus also says, “I’ll never leave you, nor forsake you.” He says this in several spots in the Bible, in the Old Testament and then in the New. So in the first place you have Christ, he’s your friend, your Redeemer, your healer. And so that is something that should bring us comfort and not in a superficial way, not like, “Hey, you got Jesus, ” legitimately. I was reading in my devotional at the very end it said, “I ought, to spend an hour with my savior,” and the way he said it, I just thought, I want to feel that. The way you wrote that, I want to feel that.

Aaron:
To spend an hour with my savior, and the idea that he’s with us, and that even in a prison, Paul can write a beautiful letter to the Philippians, and sing songs of joy and hope and praise. So you’re not alone. Christ is with you. Secondly, John 14:16 you want to read that.

Jennifer Smith:
It says, “I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper to be with you forever.”

Aaron:
For ever. Who’s that helper.

Jennifer Smith:
We wrote about this in the last chapter of Marriage After God, and I just love that part of our book, because it’s such an encouragement to us to be reminded that we aren’t doing any of this alone. We have the Holy spirit with us.

Aaron:
And what’s awesome is, he’s doing it. I keep going back to like we’re vessels. The Bible calls us vessels, or living stones, or living sacrifices. All of these terms are God’s doing it, and we’re the object, that He’s doing it through. We’re not the thing doing it. Which should bring us hope and excitement like, “Oh thank God he’s doing it, because if it was me, like I’m going to…”

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, what I think about in that verse John 14, is that he says helper, and everyone knows that someone who helps you, it’s so rewarding and it’s an active thing. It’s not here you haven’t helped and they just sit there and watch you do what you’re doing, or they are paying attention, no. They’re active, and like Aaron said, the Holy spirit is the one doing it right.

Aaron:
Right, and I want to… And I might be wrong here, but that word helper, it sounds very familiar to me. It reminds me of what God called Eve, to help meet that perfect helper for her husband. And so that role is not a passive role. The Holy spirit in our life is that perfect helper to us. And I have a wife who is a perfect helper to me, or could aspire to being a perfect helper to me. And that’s one of her roles in our marriage, which is I think a beautiful thing. Because I think of the power of the Holy spirit, I think of the power that you have in my life. Just a cool thing.

Jennifer Smith:
Something that I’ve been thinking about lately just in my own capacity too with knowing that number five is coming, and we have this ministry that we love and we love doing together, is I question often my capacity and I’ve been praying about it a lot lately and I just over and over and over again feel God telling me that it’s not me doing it and I can’t possibly do it on my own strength. And if I even try, or attempt, or think I can, I’m going to fail. And I do, if I do it without Him.

Jennifer Smith:
And I have been leaning so hard on Him because I want Him to use me. I want him to use us as a team for His glory. I want Him to use us as parents, righteous parents and good parents in our children’s lives. But I can’t do it without Him. So we really just wanted to encourage you guys to remember that you’re not alone. You have the Holy spirit, you have your spouse. Unity is such a powerful thing. And-

Aaron:
And then also you have the body of Christ. You should be in community with other believers walking with you that can encourage you-

Jennifer Smith:
Absolutely

Aaron:
… and let you know like, “Hey, I know this seems hard right now, but you’re doing a good job.” That’s what we need believers for. Number four. Just like we can’t lean on our own strength, and that we need to lean on God, and his son Jesus, and his Holy Spirit, and the church, we lean on God’s wisdom. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”

Aaron:
So as you’re pursuing the Lord, there’s going to be times that you’re like, “This just doesn’t make sense.” Be in the word of God. Be in prayer. Be in community, and find out what makes sense to Him, to God, in his kingdom, in his purposes. Sometimes giving doesn’t make sense, right?

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. I think the world looks at that and says, “That’s foolish.”

Aaron:
Yeah. Sometimes being sacrificial in your life doesn’t make sense, because what the world says, is like, “No, no, no, you’ve got to preserve yourself.”

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, look out for yourself?

Aaron:
Right? Sometimes, yeah… All of these things that we can say like, “Man, this doesn’t feel like wisdom, but we’re thinking in our own understanding.” It’s God, we have to look at God’s wisdom. What does His word say? When we find godly counsel- [crosstalk 00:25:38]

Jennifer Smith:
I was just going to say, sometimes, a lot of times leaning on God is not just looking at his word and applying it to what you’re doing, but it’s having that godly counsel where you tell people what you’re doing, you submit your plans and your desires and what’s going on in your lives so that they can be praying for you. So that they can be giving you that counsel and advice and exhortation if it’s needed.

Aaron:
One of the things that many of you might be doing is trying to get out of debt right now, and too many people in the world that’s kind of a crazy thought. It’s like, first of all, everyone’s got debt why are you trying to get out of debt. Second of all, you’re burdening your everyday life so much just to get out of debt. Like what’s the big deal, right? Isn’t everyone in debt? And so that’s not… God’s wisdom is like, “Well, I want my children to be free.” Right?

Aaron:
And the world says, “No, we shouldn’t be slaves.” That’s what the world says. But number five says, “This is our encouragement to you, is to stick to the plan and budget.” This is an encouragement for you, because- [crosstalk 00:26:38]

Jennifer Smith:
It’s got to be an encouragement, because first of all, finances, I mean it just… There’s a lot that-

Aaron:
It’s a huge part of our life, and it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to be a missionary, or starting a company, or working nine to five, or whatever it is. Like literally right now we’re like trying to figure out how to fix our house and our car tires and the electric bill and all these things are ordinary, normal life.

Jennifer Smith:
And we know what it’s like for God to plant a seed in your heart for ministry and to have this dream, or desire to do something good in this world and-

Aaron:
Not be able to afford it.

Jennifer Smith: Well, I was just going to say oftentimes it requires money. And so like Aaron said, if you’re a slave and if you’re in bondage to debt, then it will hinder that process. And so we just wanted to be a huge encouragement to remind you guys to stick to the plan. If you and your spouse have talked about it, and you know what you’re supposed to be doing. Oh it’s so rewarding. Aaron and I have been debt free and it’s been so healthy for our marriage.

Aaron:
It changes every decision we make. But like if you… So like Jennifer said, if you got this budget you guys have a goal, right? And it can get easy. It can get wearisome, we just talked about not being weary, and you’re like, “We just need to. I want to spend some money, or I want to go on vacation, or I want…” There’s going to be things that your flesh craves. Stick to the plan, be on the same page. Maybe find a smaller way to get that craving out. Like go get ice cream, and just enjoy that. A small cup of ice cream, enjoy it and say, “You know what? We’re doing a good thing.”

Jennifer Smith:
Encourage each other.

Aaron:
We’re being obedient, and encourage each other. Yes, use those positive words of encouragement and say, “We’re obeying God. He wants His children free, and we’re pursuing a good thing.” Let’s keep working at it. We’re going to get out of this debt. We’re going to crush this. We’re going to have that freedom.

Jennifer Smith:
I know I kind of like said a lot in just a few seconds about finances, but it really is a big topic, especially in marriage to tackle. And I almost feel like we should have started one step before this and say, “Make a plan.”

Aaron:
If you don’t have a plane.

Jennifer Smith:
I just want to encourage those of you who are listening right now going, “We don’t even have a plan.” Please talk to your spouse about this. This is so vital you guys, especially for Christians to talk about finances.

Aaron:
We have an episode about getting out of debt. Go check that episode out later. It’s an awesome episode. Talks about making a plan. Talks about budget. It talks about a lot of stuff. I want to read one more scripture in this section. Hebrews 12:13, you might think this is weird, but it’s a good scripture. It says, “Make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”

Jennifer Smith:
First, can I just point out it says straight paths, and there’s another verse that we talked about that.

Aaron:
Yeah, so keeping to the budget and the plan, is kind of like, you stay straight. There’s another verse that says, “Don’t look to the right or to the left, but keep your eyes forward.” Right? And Jesus even says… And in one place he says, “If you put your hand to the plow, and you look back, you’re not fit for the kingdom of heaven.”

Aaron:
There’s this idea of moving forward and you’re in this mode, but then you keep looking back like, “Whoa, what am I missing out on? Or is this even worth it? Or what am I doing? This is too hard.” And Jesus is like, “No, put your hands in the plow, put your head down. You just keep moving that plow forward.” That’s what it feels like sometimes getting out of debt.

Jennifer Smith:
Oh yeah, for sure.

Aaron:
Pushing the plow.

Jennifer Smith:
But it is rewarding. And I just want to go back to this verse really quick in Hebrews 12, because talk about word pictures, it says, “And make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

Aaron:
And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Jennifer Smith:
One side of my hip hurts really bad. But when you make a financial decision, especially against your spouse, or without your spouse, “Oh man, it hurts so bad.” Right, Aaron?

Aaron:
Well, and that’s the point is you’re trying to heal something. And so unless you keep that path straight, you’re going to make that thing that’s trying to be healed worse.

Jennifer Smith:
Hey, that’s a really good verse for finances. It is awesome.

Aaron:
So last thing… I know I said last thing already. This is another last thing. Make your plans public. Not just internalize them. Because we do this. This is a strategy we use to make ourselves feel better about something we’re planning to do, but to not actually commit to it.

Jennifer Smith:
Is this going back to talking about biblical community?

Aaron:
There’s a lot of things. Yeah. So if I inside I’m like, “You know what? I’m going to stop eating cupcakes.” And I say that to myself-

Jennifer Smith:
But you don’t tell anyone.

Aaron:
But then cupcakes come up. Not a single person in my life knows that I said I’m not going to eat cupcakes. And then I can tell myself inside again, “It’s just this one time I’m going to have this cup cake. It’s not a big deal. No one even knows.”

Jennifer Smith:
And then you get back on that.

Aaron:
And then like, “Yeah, I’ll just do half a cupcake.” But if I say to someone out loud, or like my spouse, “Hey, I’m going to stop eating cupcakes. I know that’s a problem with me.” Now my wife knows, and you know what happens?

Jennifer Smith:
They’re glaring at you when those cupcakes cakes- 

Aaron:
Yeah, the cupcakes come out, and they don’t even think about it. But you reach for one and they look at you like-

Jennifer Smith:
“What are you doing?”

Aaron:
“You just said you’re not going to eat cupcakes.”

Jennifer Smith:
It’s called accountability.

Aaron:
It is. So I just want to say, don’t internalize your plans, make them public. Tell people. Tell people that are going to look at you and be like, “Hey man, you said you’re not going to do this. Why are you doing that?” Right? That’s a good thing. Okay. Encouragement number six. The journey may be overwhelming at times, but remember the fruit’s going to be good. Okay. You talked about the fruit tree.

Jennifer Smith:
I am. Here we go, just looking back around.

Aaron:
We had all this growth this year on the fruit tree. And I go out there and I haven’t been doing the horticulturing you have been doing that. And I looked at it and there’s like 14, 18, 22 inches of new growth on all these branches. And I looked at them like, “I don’t even… What do you do?” You’re like, “Well, you need to cut here, you need to cut here, have to cut here.”

Jennifer Smith:
No I said they’re [inaudible 00:31:52]

Aaron:
Yeah. And when you’re moving forward and you’re chasing after God, there can be seasons that feel overwhelming, but you have to understand that on the other side there’s going to be good fruit. And there’s this allegory, or an old saying I’ve heard and it says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” And ideas like the overwhelming things in life, this can go for a lot of overwhelming things.

Aaron:
One strategy in business is, tackle the hardest thing first. That’s kind of the idea is like, it takes one step, it takes one bite, it takes one choice in that season of being overwhelmed, one right choice. As our pastor Matt always said, he said, “In times that you don’t know what to do, just do the next right thing.” And that’s usually what being overwhelmed makes you feel like. That you don’t… You’re like, “Oh, there’s all this stuff.” There’s all this input. That’s where all that overwhelmed-ness comes from. Or there’s too much stimulus. This choice, this choice, that thing, this problem, that issue. I don’t know what to do.

Aaron:
Just remember that there’s fruit on the other side of it and to slow down, and also to remember that Christ has already overcome all of this, and he’s the one in us. In John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace.” Which is like-

Jennifer Smith:
Talk about world peace.

Aaron:
Peace is like the kryptonite to an overwhelmed heart. It just melts it. So that you may have peace. In me, you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart. I have overcome the world. So we serve the over-comer. He has overcome all things, and we’re in him. And that’s just such a good feeling. So don’t be overwhelmed. Slow down, pray, get down on your knees, take a break and start praising God also, and thanking God, these are all antidotes and Christ will be our peace.

Jennifer Smith:
All right, moving onto the next one. It’s just remembering that your marriage is your first ministry. And this was a huge thread through our marriage, after God. But we always are encouraging it, because this was something that we had to learn in the middle of our marriage a few years ago that, no matter what kind of impact we have in this world, nothing is more powerful than the ministry within our marriage, and our interactions between each other, because that’s the truth of it. That’s where it all comes from.

Aaron:
And nothing can destroy our other ministries faster, than our marriage falling apart.

Jennifer Smith:
That’s true.

Aaron:
And not being cultivated. We even wrote in the book about how we were already in the ministry of talking to marriages and encouraging them and we’re doing that full force and writing devotionals and we had forgotten about our marriage. We were confronted on it. We looked at each other like, “Oh well we need to be looking here.”

Jennifer Smith:
So I have a question that just came to my mind. If you listening right now feel like you are chasing boldly after God, can I ask, are you chasing boldly after your spouse? Because when you’re married, the two go hand in hand.

Aaron:
Yeah, they’re the same thing in essence that, when I’m told to love my wife as Christ loves the church, one of the ways I chase after God is in loving my wife as Christ loves the church. I practice that with my bride.

Jennifer Smith:
Pursuing each other, walking in understanding, truly loving each other.

Aaron:
Right.

Jennifer Smith:
So I just want to put that out there, and think about-

Aaron:
So don’t neglect your marriage as you guys… Because this can happen. Maybe you’re starting a business. Maybe you’re in the process of adoption, which we know people that have gone through the adoption process. It is a heavy thing. It’s hard. It’s long. It’s drawn out. There’s so much stuff that goes into it. And in those seasons, don’t forget where your first ministry lies, where your first love lies, that your marriage is so important, because to be honest, all of these things you’re doing, if you’re adopting your marriage better be like on point for that child. And you know this. Everyone listening understands this, but it’s just good to be reminded and encouraged, don’t neglect your marriage.

Aaron:
Number eight, if you’re having a hard day, remember that it’s temporary. It’s temporary. These hard things are temporary. I didn’t write this verse down, but there’s a verse that says the current struggles are nothing to be compared with the coming glory-

Jennifer Smith:
That’s beautiful.

Aaron:
The things that we currently… It doesn’t matter what the worst thing possible you can imagine, or have gone through. It’s nothing to be compared to the coming glory in Christ Jesus. The renewed body, the no more tears, the streets of gold, the eternity with the father, the eternal praise. Nothing can be compared with that. So make the choice to move forward even though you had a hard day.

Jennifer Smith:
That’s good. Yeah. I think we do get hung up on hard days, because we’re human. We make mistakes, we choose wrong, we mess up, and we can’t let those things hinder us, or keep us down. What do we got to do?

Aaron:
Well, we got to be appropriate with them. So when we make mistakes, when we choose to do wrong, when we mess up, when we choose sin, or anger or those things that hinder us, we’ve got to confess. We’ve got to forgive. We’ve got to remember that God is good, and loves us, and let’s get back up. That’s what we got to do.

Jennifer Smith:
What happens if it’s a hard day, because of someone else’s choices or, some other external circumstances that we’re enduring through. What would you say to that person?

Aaron:
I would say that, you know what? God has a ministry for all of us. And if it’s sickness, or turmoil, or a relationship, that’s where God has you, and we need to be asking, “Lord, why am I here? What do you want from me? How can I be a light and salt in this situation right now?”

Aaron:
Okay. Number nine, talk often about where you are emotionally and spiritually. So there’s an encouragement to talk-

Jennifer Smith:
To who?

Aaron:
Your spouse. To other believers. Mostly your spouse, like in these more interpersonal things, but be talking about stuff, because a lot of times we can internalize so many things, especially for an introvert. If someone’s naturally inside- 

Jennifer Smith:
So I’m like my tendency is more introvert show on…

Aaron:
Introverted.

Jennifer Smith:
I’m more introverted. And I know that there’s some things that I don’t even know I’m actually thinking about and wrestling with until you look at me and go, “What?” And I’m like-

Aaron:
I know. I look at you, and I’m like, “What are you thinking?” And you’re like-

Jennifer Smith:
But the moment I say it out loud, sometimes even halfway through a sentence, I just stop myself because I go, “I didn’t even realize that was a thing. And now I know what it is. And I’m going to go-“

Aaron:
We should do an episode one time about how we have full blown arguments in your head.

Jennifer Smith:
No, you just made me sound crazy to everyone.

Aaron:
No. We all do it, because we have the… Anyways, we internalize a lot of things.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, I do.

Aaron:
And so what I’m saying is talk about them.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. I’ve been super encouraged by the way that we communicate in our marriage and just having that space to talk and hush it out and sometimes we-

Aaron:
It’s been a lot better. I’ve been really encouraged by it as well.

Jennifer Smith:
Well I was also going to-

Aaron:
I’m glad you mentioned that.

Jennifer Smith:
… say that sometimes our days are so full of things and sticking to business, or the plan, to homeschool whatever it is that we’re working on, that sometimes it doesn’t even happen until we lay down in bed at night. But then still just like making… Again marriage is our first priority that we are making time to look at each other, and hold hands, and talk about what’s on our hearts. It’s so important.

Aaron:
And so I wanted to make a note about this. About just talking, getting out of us in a healthy way what’s going on inside. There are very few hours in a day, so let’s make sure to make it a lifestyle of communication, not just, “Oh, I’ll talk to you on Friday when we have that time off.” If it’s in passing, not just dumping a load of like everything ever, but like, “Hey, I just want you to know I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately, and I would love for you to pray for me,” and that becomes a pattern.

Aaron:
“Hey, yeah. I was thinking today this thing came up and it’s really bothered me. I feel burdened by it. I don’t even know how to handle it.” Having a lifestyle, because there’s so few hours in a day that we’re not with each other 24 seven. You’re not around all your Christian friends, and family all the time to make it a lifestyle of communication.

Jennifer Smith:
Also, people can’t read your mind. Your spouse can’t read your mind, and something that I shared on social media last week was just that, no one will know you unless you let them know you. So your spouse doesn’t-

Aaron:
Ladies, your husband can’t read your mind.

Jennifer Smith:
Hey husbands, no. This is for everyone listening. Your spouse will get to know you, when you let them know what’s going on in your heart. So this idea of… This encouragement of talking to each other is so vital, and it makes me think of that. I was really encouraged about King Asa and just that story you shared, because just like he was encouraged to do the thing that God was calling him to do, there were a ton of idols wiped out of the kingdom.

Jennifer Smith:
And I just think like how the power of our words have such an impact in our lives. And so just by Aaron and I sharing this encouragement with you today to go talk to each other, I feel like could be super powerful just in the kingdom of your marriage. And so I don’t know why I was just encouraged by that so much as now.

Aaron:
Thank you. Number 10, you may not know what God is calling you to tomorrow, or in the future, but be faithful to do what he is calling you to do today.

Jennifer Smith:
That’s good.

Aaron:
Yeah. And so sometimes we get, what’s the word? Paralyzed by the unknown of tomorrow. Like how is it going to work? How’s this going to happen? Will I ever be here? Is God going to do this thing? And it’s always out in the future and it’s… And we can’t… We have no control over tomorrow.

Aaron:
That’s what the scripture tells us. But guess what we have today? We get to walk today with Christ. We get to be in the spirit today. We get to make the right choice today. We get to chase him today. And so the encouragement to you is, be concerned about today. Where’s your heart today? Are you just trying to like shut down and check out-

Jennifer Smith:
Or rush through it?

Aaron:
Or rush through it? Or get people out of your way? No. We only have today. No one’s promised tomorrow. Not a single person in the whole world is promised tomorrow. Okay. But we have today. Tomorrow probably will come. But the Bible wants us to be concerned about who we are, what we’re doing, how we’re thinking, what we’re saying in this moment right now. We have this moment and there’s… I’ve mentioned this quite a few times. There’s something incredibly liberating about realizing what you have no control over, and being okay with that.

Aaron:
I have no control over tomorrow, but you know what, I have control over right now, so I can pay that bill so that my electricity might be on tomorrow. That’s a practical thought, but it’s right now. How are we going to walk right now? Are we going to make that right choice right now? So going back to the money idea real quick, we can say like, “Oh, I just want to feel better right now. Let’s go to the movies.” Maybe when you should take that $25, or it’s actually like 50 bucks down at the movies, it so expensive-

Jennifer Smith:
It’s so expensive.

Aaron:
… and put it towards your debt. That’s definitely not going to feel as good as going to just sit down, and relax for an hour, two hours. But what’s the right thing now?

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. And just talking about how we shouldn’t be worried about tomorrow, or even the future. Everything that you’re saying just makes me think like the choices that we have in this moment right now, and shortly thereafter is going to impact tomorrow. It’s going to impact the future. I remember a friend of mine who… She’s like a health coach/fitness person and she shared something that was really encouraging, but it was basically like, “If you want to be a certain way, if you want to be healthy, if you want to be fit and strong, it’s going to take time to get there.” And so every choice-

Aaron:
I think I heard this with someone today.

Jennifer Smith:
Did you?

Aaron:
Yeah, that’s so crazy.

Jennifer Smith:
It was so powerful. But just thinking about how right now matters-

Aaron:
Yeah, what you do today-

Jennifer Smith:
… not three months from now.

Aaron:
… to make tomorrow better, right?

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. It’s so encouraging.

Aaron:
And so this verse, Proverbs 16:9 it says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps,” and there’s a contrast here. The,” Plans, his way,” there’s a whole path set out. The way, it’s like there’s this, there’s this, there’s this, and then down the road there’s going to be this milestone, there’s going to be this milestone, and that’s what we’re going to do. And then it says, “But the Lord establishes his steps.”

Aaron:
What are the steps? They’re the individual things. They’re the one, two, three.

Jennifer Smith:
The little choices.

Aaron:
And the Lord establishes them. Establishing is the fortifying, the making strong and steady. Right? Because we can run… Have you ever ran into rock path and you’re like falling over the place? I’ve really weak ankles, and I’ll just fall if I try to run too fast. But if we put our mind on the Lord and say, “Okay Lord, today-“

Jennifer Smith:
For security.

Aaron:
“… your foot…” And every… And that one step, that one moment right now, will be established by the Lord. The last encouragement here, we just want you to realize that today’s what you got. And that’s okay, because no one else has anything more. You’re in the same place as all of us today.

Jennifer Smith:
That’s good. It’s really good.

Aaron:
Okay. So I hope this encourages you. 10 encouragements for you, because you’re chasing after the Lord with us. You’re on this journey. That’s like our whole purpose for this podcast is doing this with us.

Jennifer Smith:
I feel like I should throw in a bonus one. It’s, don’t stop chasing boldly after God.

Aaron: Don’t give up.

Jennifer Smith: Don’t stop, persevere.

Aaron:
So we like to end in prayer. Before I do that, I just want to remind you to take advantage of that free prayer challenge. It’s marriageprayerchallenge.com. You can get that right after this if you want. It’s free. But Jennifer, would you pray for us?

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. Dear Lord, thank you that you are so patient with us. Thank you that our salvation is not contingent on our perfection, but your son’s. Thank you for giving us your Holy spirit to guide us, convict us, and teach us all things in your word.

Jennifer Smith:
Lord, we pray you would encourage and inspire all of us to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Lord, fill us with more hope and joy and help us to continue to walk in your spirit every day. We pray we will continue to chase boldly after you, in Jesus name. Amen.

Aaron:
Amen. Well, thank you for listening. Go have a conversation with your spouse about this stuff. We always want to encourage you to do that. To just take the things that we’ve presented as ideas for conversation. And so we love you all. Look forward to having you next week.

Aaron:
Did you enjoy today’s show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you’re interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

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