My husband and I had taken some time away, just for the two of us. We had ventured out on a camping trip, which was both refreshing and relaxing. Having more quiet time than usual gave me time to reflect on so many things.
We had finished sitting outside, and my husband began to fold up the camp chairs to insert them into the sleeves in which they are stored. He was having trouble inserting one of the chairs so, without giving it any thought, I reached over and held the sleeve open, and the chair slipped right in. Then together, we did the second chair.
The thought entered my mind, “That’s it!” It wasn’t my thought. I thought, “What’s it?” Then came, “That’s submission.” Those words really made no sense to me. That wasn’t submission, I thought. I just reached over to help him. But I had to stop to think – Was that submission? There had been no discussion, no requests, no disagreement. I just did what seemed like “second nature”.
But in giving the situation more thought, I could see it. I had just moved alongside my husband and quietly helped him accomplish his goal. Hmmm …. I thought … That’s way too simplistic! But that single incident caused me to embark upon a journey in my mind of the many truths that The Lord has taught me over the last thirty years to where (at times) submission has become “second nature”. But, oh my, has it ever been a journey – a long journey. This journey of submission has been filled with both victories and failures, and with both delight and discouragement.
I invite you to join me on this journey, one which has changed my marriage and changed my life. It is one which I would never trade, even at the times yet when my flesh would rise up in quiet resistance. I know what The Lord has worked into my heart, and truly, submission is a matter of the heart. I much desire for that work to be completed in me.
Where did this long journey begin? Would you believe that it was at that same kitchen table which I have mentioned before? There, with all my Scriptures spread out before me, I discovered a very simple, but profound truth. What I found, by comparing scripture with scripture, was that Wives, be subject to your own husbands was the single most frequent command in the Bible that was given specifically to women. Look to see what I discovered:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto The Lord. Ephesians 5:22
Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:24
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in The Lord. Colossians 3:18
Older women were instructed to encourage the younger women to … be obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:5 (Note: the word translated as obedient is the same word that is translated as submission or subjection in other verses.)
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (behavior) of the wives. 1 Peter 3:1
Can you see the same instruction consistently given over and over again?
Of course, I had heard of submission before, but this time I observed several things. First, this was God that was speaking through His Word, and He continually said the same thing. Next, I realized that this truth was written in the imperative – it was a command! It really was not optional.
I knew that I would have to understand what God was really saying to wives. I asked Him to show me His ways. What I learned, over the course of the next few weeks, was that Biblical submission is not at all what people try to make it.
Importantly, we must understand that the unbeliever cannot and will not walk in this truth. This truth was written to Christian wives. As with any other directive given to Christians, it is all about reflecting The Lord as He is, as we walk in humility and love. Biblical submission is one of the primary ways that a Christian wife will honor her Lord, because it is He who instructs her to do so.
Also, I learned that there is no harshness nor rigidity found in submission. The wife is the one who takes this action. Wives, submit yourselves … The husband is nowhere instructed to “force” this submission. The wife is to willingly submit because it is right in The Lord. I know that we do not see this anywhere in the world nor in our culture today, but indeed, it is according to the truth of the Word of God.
Next, I found that everywhere this directive is given, there is only one person named to whom this command refers. Wives are instructed to submit themselves to their own husband – not to any other man, only to their own husband. That sounds easy enough, right? Just submit to one man? But here is right where the enemy will fight us. We may be able to submit to our pastor, or to our boss, or to someone in a position of authority. But to our own husband – you have got to be kidding! You just don’t know what he is like! So to the single most frequent command to the wife, we find some reason to refuse! How tragic! And how disobedient!
Now, I no longer had room to argue. I knew what God was requiring, but I still needed to understand the meaning of the word submit. I went to a Bible dictionary and found that the word was actually a military term that meant to be arranged under. Ok, I could understand the application. I was to arrange my life under and around my husband – around his life, around his direction. We were to be on the same team, and I was to be on his side.
It was then that the “light bulb came on”. This was the exact truth that I had found when I had studied being a “help” in Genesis. For me to be the kind of help that I needed to be, I had to be with my husband, for him, on his side, arranging my life around his, and under his authority and direction. Oh, the consistency of Scripture! And again, I was reminded that this was God’s plan and design BEFORE the fall. It was goodness, all goodness.
I also was absolutely amazed to understand that this one truth of submission would bring me out from under the curse, concerning my relationship with my husband, and back into the joy for which the Lord had created the woman – BEFORE the fall. Oh, how I desired to walk there! But I knew it would take the Lord to teach my heart. As I said, submission is a journey of the heart. It is not an external rule imposed on the Christian wife. It is a high and holy calling, to which, through my study, The Lord had planted a desire to learn to walk therein!
Lord, nothing about my fallen nature understands or even wants to understand. But the precious Spirit that you have placed within me calls me to a place higher than I have ever been! Help me, teach me, show me, grow me. I want to step into this journey. Change me. Change my marriage. Let me bring glory to you!
What truth had I been reminded of when I had simply helped my husband fold up those chairs? It was my Lord who had taught me through the years: Wives (that was me) submit yourselves (arrange my life under and around) my own husband (David). It had all seemed way too simplistic when we were folding those chairs. But really, it is a simple truth. Thank you, Lord, for truth! Please help me live in obedience, in a way that pleases you!