This is from my precious friend Janan, whom you've heard a lot about if you've read much on my blog. She is my spiritual momma, and I love her dearly.
I trust that her words will bless your life, or the life of someone you know. If you find that they do, or that the previous message on marriage did, you can just click the button that looks like an envelope, and forward it to anyone whom you know that may need to "hear" these words of encouragement today.
I've been blown away by how many phone calls I've had regarding the post on marriage that I wrote a few days ago...and by the work that the Spirit of God has seen fit to do in several womens' lives already.
I love you today,
I read your post the other night after getting home from a long week of travel. It has pestered me all night and all day, so I decided to tell my story in hopes in can help someone.
First of all, I pray in the Name of Jesus for any and all of you that are dealing with thoughts of separation or divorce. I understand it, as I have been in your situation, and it is only through God's saving grace that my husband of 31 years and I were able to keep our marriage together. And since it was truly a work of God and not our own, our love and committment have grown deeper with each passing day. God not only saves - but also heals.
After about 5 years of marriage, I began thinking about leaving my husband. I had left my first husband, so when things started getting hard in this marriage, I thought maybe leaving was the thing to do. He told me matter-of-factly that, "Kashes don't get divorced."
He began receiving treatment for depression, which helped for awhile, but eventually our lives began spinning out of control. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to put things in order. I would think and pray until my head hurt - if I could just get a vision of what needed to be done, I was sure I could pull it through. This went on for almost 20 years.
I should mention that in our situation, neither one of us was a Born Again Christian. We both grew up in the church, and we knew the concept of Jesus as Savior, but we had never made Jesus our Lord. So it was about this time - after 20 years of marriage - that God was gracious. Within a one-year period of time, all four members of our family gave our lives to Christ. This was after a precious lady, who worked for me in my home 3 days a week for 3 years, prayed for me and my family for those three solid years as she worked in my home. She prayed over our beds, over my children's video games, over our entire home. (We were totally unaware of this.) And after three years, when God started moving in our family, He moved with POWER.
That was close to 12 years ago. What happened was that we allowed GOD to put our lives in order - it was never something we could do on our own. He gave us the vision we needed, the power through His Holy Spirit to hold our tongues with one another, and when we began to attend church regularly and study His word individually, His word never came back void (Isaiah 55).
It took time for me to re-learn how to be kind and respectful to my husband. I pretty much quit asking God to change him, and started begging God instead to change ME.
I realized that the things we do become habitual. Over the years, I had developed terrible habits of disrespecting my husband, talking back, feeling superior, feeling self-sufficient,etc. And for me the change to rid of those things came one day at a time. In an argument or discussion, I would pray for God to hold my tongue, and He did. After awhile of this, my husband quit the arguing because I was not arguing back. Cycles were broken.
I heard something on the radio once, and I decided to try this and friends - it really worked. This is how it went. They were interviewing a lady who had written a book or Bible study - I can't remember which, and I never knew who she was. But she said that in her daily quiet time, she would pray fervently for her husband. She kept a running list of all of his faults and daily she would go down the list and pray for God to rid him of these things. She did this for YEARS. She said that one morning, she heard God very clearly telling her to throw the list away. Instead she was to make a new list of good things about him and focus instead on those. What she came up with is what she called the 30-day challenge - 30 days because this was a period of time when bad habits can be replaced with good habits.
The 30-day challenge works like this. Every day for 30 days, you are not allowed to say ONE - NOT ONE - bad thing to your huband. No matter what - no way. You must instead compliment him in some way. This could be in the form of saying one nice thing about him or his character or appearance, making one nice comment about something he did for you or someone else, leaving him one nice note - you get the picture - one nice thing a day. She even emphasized if you could only find one nice thing to say, you could say it over and over for 30 days.
I tried this myself and it worked. What happened is I quit focusing on my husbands faults and instead began looking at things that were good about him. Many of those things were things that I originally loved about him when we met. God allowed me to see much deeper into him than I had ever seen him before.
It was probably close to 30 days into the challenge when I remember my husband and I were on a trip - we were driving somewhere in Colorado I think. I remember looking over at him and saying, "Can you tell "I" have changed in the way I treat you?" His reply shocked me. He said, "Yes, and I think you really mean it." My point in all of this is that God helped "me" to change and in the process "my husband" changed as well. But it had to start with one of us, and I knew it had to be me.
I have a Bible story I want to remind you all of. It is told in two of the gospels - Luke 9:37-45 and Mark 9:14-32. This story followed Christ's transfiguration. Jesus walked into the scene and some of his disciples were trying, unsuccessfully, to cast an evil spirit out of a boy. Jesus said to them, "Oh unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." The boy's father told Jesus he had been like that since childhood and he said to Jesus, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
Jesus replied, "If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes". The father replied, "I believe, help my unbelief," and Jesus drove out the evil spirit and the boy was healed. Later the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon and Jesus told them that "This kind can come out only by prayer."
As believers we have been given power to overcome the enemy, but that power is not of ourselves, it is from God. And the way we activate that power is through prayer. We must be deligent to pray!
I know this is lengthy, but I have one more story I want to share which I am sure everyone is familiar with. And this story will, in fact, be my prayer for anyone who is struggling in their marriage. This story speaks to me in a mighty way of what Jesus did to my own marriage.
It is found in in John 2:1-11 and reads: On the third day a wedding took place at Cannan in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jeus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding fom twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridgroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
I think of my marriage as the wine at the wedding. Somewhere over the years, we ran out of wine. But then Jesus showed up and performed a miracle in our marriage. He told the servants to "fill the jars with water." The jars were empty, but Christ had them filled. The part that I love the most about this story is this - he turned the water into wine - but not just any kind of wine - but CHOICE WINE - FINE WINE! And this is what Christ can do with any marriage. He can take an empty marriage - dry - and fill it up and then turn it into fine wine!
I pray that if this message is for you today, that you will 1) Turn your eyes upon Jesus - make sure He is your Savior AND your Lord; 2) PRAY! Don't ever quit praying! 3) Quit asking God to change your husband and ask him to change YOU! 4) Take it one day at a time - pray to God "Give us this day our daily bread."
I hope these words will be a blessing to someone. I love you in the Name of Jesus!