One of my joyful responsibilities as a young boy was to pry the ticks off Duke when he came in from the woods, having been gone for several days. I loved ol’ Duke – a Norwegian Elkhound, the favorite canine breed of my family in those days. Do you know what a dog looks like after a few days in the woods? Imagine a dozen or so thick and plump Sumo wrestlers on a Brontosaurus with their slick heads firmly imbedded in the massive creature, sucking and sucking like there’s no tomorrow. These blood-gorged ticks were, in one real sense, draining the life out of the dog and if left in that condition, would eventually do the dog in.
Would you say that a blood-sucking gorged tick really loves the dog or is selfishly using the dog? If you asked the tick, a delusional joyful bug-eyed ‘yes I love this dog’ would be the answer. But that’s not love – it’s selfishness to live off the life of another. Parasite’s don’t love – they just drain. They don’t give – they take. They don’t lose their lives – they keep it at the expense of the host.
We often don’t realize that we love our spouses the way a tick loves a dog. And we do this because we’re empty on the inside. I wonder what it is like to be so full of knowing God the Father in the same way that the Son knew his father, that people will never be my source of sustenance ever again – especially Cheryl? I don’t mean to diminish my needs for affection, respect, friendship, and support. But I also don’t mean to exalt these things as my NEEDS, as if Cheryl is my all in all and Jesus is small. Not even Jesus functions like a dog for my tick-like passions. He will not piggy-back my blood-thirst, allowing my selfishness to swell and swell.
By his Spirit, Jesus does for us what I would do for my dog – gently extract those suckers out of Duke, head and all. Then came the fun part. Ok I’ll skip that! Don’t want this post to get too squishy.
It’s time to just say it: Don’t love your spouse the way a tick loves a dog. Why Not? Because that’s not the way God loves you. He gives, he does not take. He does command you to lose your life, not because he needs your life but because he wants you to keep it – He is the Ultimate Life Giver! And what he supplies is his own life, in you, so that when you approach your spouse, it’s with a giving heart, the heart of Jesus.
Now we see that when Jesus speaks of a cost to living for him (Luke 14:25-33), it is not because he wants us to do without but he wants us to thrive . . . on his life-blood.
The love in marriage as it displays Christ’s sacrificial love for his bride, the church, and the church’s respect and devotion for Christ, her head, is truly a mysterious joy. But it can easily become distorted and what looks like love is actually selfishness and a keeping of ones life. Often in our marriages, we use the other, living off the other in an unhealthy way not only for ourselves but also for them.
Love Jesus more than your spouse. Turn away from loving one another the way a tick loves a dog, sucking the life out of the other. Live on Christ – Jesus is much more satisfying and you’ll be free to love the other the way Jesus loves you – a life-giver and not a life-taker.