This is one of my favorite times of year in Arkansas. People in the South love dogwoods and azaleas, and they are in full bloom. Just driving to work you see splashes of color everywhere you turn.

It seems to me that the very nature of gardening and landscaping means that you are investing in the future. You put time, effort, and money into something that won’t grow into maturity for several years. I’ve noticed, for example, that azaleas seem to grow pretty slowly. That means some of the larger bushes here in Little Rock were planted at least 10 years ago, and the very large ones have been around for decades. The people who planted those bushes were investing in the future.

To illustrate, look at the first photo on the right. This is a view of my daughter Missy’s backyard. The former owners of her home invested a lot of money into landscaping, and now Missy and her husband are enjoying the results.

Now look at the second photo. This is my backyard. Notice a difference? Though we’ve kept the inside of our home looking good over the last 24 years, we’ve ignored our backyard. Just think of how it would look now if we had invested in landscaping when we moved in.

The Bible has a lot to say on the subject of sowing and reaping and how it relates to spiritual principles. Proverbs 11:18, for example, tells us that ” … one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.” Galatians 6:7-9 describes the difference of sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit, and concludes, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

I think these passages have direct application to a marriage. We should be sowing seeds in our relationship just as gardener or a farmer sows seeds in the ground. It’s an investment in the future.

There are many ways you can invest in your marriage:

Pledge that, throughout your marriage, you will always go on dates together and spend special weekends together. This pledge may be tested with the demands of raising children, but it may be more important than ever during those years. Your children need parents who love each other unconditionally and are committed to each other for a lifetime.

Encourage each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically. You are partners in life, and as you work together and support each other, you will grow in wisdom and maturity. After 20 or 30 years you will look back and say with conviction, “I don’t know what I’d be today without my spouse.”

Look for opportunities to learn more about how to build a marriage that honors God. Attending one of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® getaways, for example, is one of the best investments you could make in your relationship.

Build memories together. Lately I’ve been organizing all the photos we’ve taken during three decades of marriage, and it’s been fun to revisit the past—our courtship and wedding and honeymoon, old friends, the birth of our daughters, special vacations, trips with the kids, time with relatives who have now passed. Each of those experiences becomes a shared memory that strengthens your bond with each passing year.

Look at the photo of my backyard again. It’s a good reminder that you truly do reap what you sow. In our case, we didn’t sow, so we didn’t reap.

What are you doing to invest in your marriage?

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