Lounging in the guest bed watching an early evening movie with one of my daughters, bickering penetrated our peaceful haven as an offended sibling burst in to report an unacceptable incident. The tattling sister made a deal she never should have, the sister watching the movie allowed it, and the originator now found it to be completely unfair. It was the end of the day, and any trace of wisdom I might have started with was completely depleted.
Numb in the brain, I froze as I contemplated which issue to address – the one sister being a woman of her word, letting her “Yes” be a “Yes,” or the other sister having the consideration to be generous with her heart and reject unfair deals. James happened to pop his head in the room, and when he heard “the deal,” he swiftly and decidedly addressed the offense. He exacted a consequence, and it was over.
What a relief! Yet, at the same time, I felt a twinge of inadequacy. Why did I sometimes feel so paralyzed with confusion and indecision? Why can’t I have wisdom not just some of the time but all of the time? Chatting with James later, I explained how sometimes I just feel like I’m failing my children.
Shortly thereafter, a friend and I were discussing the challenges of consistently training up our children and choosing worthy battles. She and her husband had recently agreed that he would help balance her approach to disciplining their children, and she found his covering over her – his help in rescuing her when she was overwhelmed – to be a huge relief.
It occurred to me how desperately we need submarines in our muddy rivers!
I once heard men are like submarines, while women are like rivers. Men compartmentalize their lives – job, wife, kids, hobbies, friends, responsibilities, etc. If something goes wrong in one compartment, he just seals it off, leaving the rest of his submarine completely functioning. Flashing red sirens may be screaming as water floods the damaged area, but the rest of the craft is dry and fully functioning.
But for a woman, whatever gets thrown in or stirred up in her life throughout the day muddies all the water. There’s no separation. All disappointments, aggravations, emotions, interactions, stresses, hormones, relationship issues, and the like flow into the current. There’s no plucking out a single pollutant. All the water has to be purified!
When “the deal” blackened my waters, I needed James to navigate his submarine into my murky water and start dealing with some of the pollutants! Even though he has to immerse himself in order to get me out, he seems to have this remarkable periscope that gives him incredible perspective. He can clearly see everything that’s really going on at the surface when I no longer can!
God knew I would need him to be my head. He’s the one who set it up that way for our benefit!
Ephesians 5:23 explains, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is Savior of the body.” We are to be subject to our husbands, and they are to love us as “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself to her” (verse 25).
It’s a matter of order, like the military. People are arranged by rank for optimum function and protection. If everyone’s the admiral, there are going to be major problems. Without a clear head of operations to give orders and expect obedience, when the enemy strikes, confusion will ensue. Chaos. Defeat. Bloodshed. Death.
The order in our homes is that the wife is subject to her husband, her head. She is arranged under him. He is her covering, and she willingly, by her own appointment, yields to him. Obeys him. Accepts his admonition and advice. And help.
The good news for us is that right order clears murky waters. The reason Christ loved the church and gave Himself to her, as our husbands are to mimic in their love for us, is “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word” (verse 26). When our husbands love us like Christ, and we subject ourselves to their headship, we are sanctified and cleansed by the washing of the water by the word, which in the Greek refers to that which is spoken.
When James came into the guest room and laid down the law, he de-muddied my waters! He was my savior (little s). It’s a principle of application: James is head, I am subject, and I benefit, just as it is in my relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Is there mud in your river?” James will often ask if he senses I’m overwhelmed or agitated. It’s our code for gauging my state of mind. Am I a happy wife and mommy or drowning maniac?!?! Then he’ll sweetly inquire, “What can I do to get the mud out of your river?”
Husbands, at the end of the day when your wives lay lifeless on the beds of their muddy rivers, navigate your submarines into those cloudy waters and take authority over them mudslingers! Wives, let your husbands be the head. Let them propel their way into their proper place.
Lord, help us to submit to Your perfect order as we become more wholly Yours today.