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“Finally, all of you should be in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family, being kind and humble. Do not do wrong to repay a wrong, and do not insult to repay an insult. But repay with a blessing, because you yourselves were called to do this so that you might receive a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9 NCV)
Who are you? Are you a Stander who is believing God for a restored Marriage? Are you suffering for doing right because of the wrong your Beloved Prodigal has done? Are you like me – a Prodigal-turned-Stander? The one who walked away? And then brought to her knees by the reality of her own sin — and how it has grieved God? Are you not just sorry for what you have done because it has affected your conveniences – but rather you’re sick to the core of your being because of what it has done to your relationship with God, your relationship and witness to your Spouse, your children and those around you? (And, oh by the way, we’re not supposed to do anything to lead another Christian into sin (Rom 14:13))! And do you possess the sorrow within that brings life out of the smoldering ashes of your Marriage and home? Whoever we are, this is the sorrow that God wants – it is the sorrow that leads us to repentance, to turn away from the wrong way we were headed. This is the sorrow that is born of the will of God and He will use it to change your life. (2 Cor 7:9-10)
This is the gut-wrenching and oh-so-humbling sorrow that has caused me to seek God and come to Stand for the salvation, restoration and reconciliation of my One-Flesh Covenant Marriage.
“The person who has suffered in the body is finished with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1 NCV) One way that can be looked at is this: if you’ve made enough bad choices – or even one big, bad choice, lived like you were “of the world,” spent everything you had and more – and now the “bills are coming due,” and when you have suffered the consequences of your disobedience and rebellion, you are D-O-N-E, done with sin “. . .so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2 NASB)
I am not in any way accepting the blame for ALL of the breakdown in our Marriage. Neither should you. Nor am I placing all blame on my Husband – and neither should you place all blame on your Spouse – but I am accepting MY part for the breakdown in our Marriage. I have owned it and come face-to-face with MY responsibilities – MY sin. My Beloved is responsible for his own actions before the Lord he professes and he has to come face-to-face with God on GOD’s terms, not mine.
So how do I know what “MY” part is? How do I know where to draw the line in the blame game? Easy. Me, Myself and I were NOT living in accordance with 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. I was not living and walking in Love. I also know this because the Bible says “Love NEVER fails.” (vs 8). If we think of that in relation to Who God is – He is Love Personified – then Love Himself NEVER fails. Did you get that? We were living under OUR views on and definition of love. Well we can love a pizza too. It may look good and smell good but if it has unhealthy ingredients, it’s still going to make you sick. If mankind lived according to all that was written in those eight verses, there would be no breakdown in Marriages, no separation, NO divorce. But the reality is there is separation and divorce because one – but usually both – in the Marriage is NOT loving AND forgiving as we are commanded to do.
Love and Forgiveness are NOT optional.
Last year I lost my job for the second time since our divorce. Yeah, it’s been a bit of a rough ride. I could no longer stay in the place I lived and I “lost” nearly everything I owned. What I didn’t lose from my three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, 2000 sqft town home now fits very neatly into a 10 x 10 storage shed. I was devastated. “Friends” disappeared. I was out of work; out of money and out of time. All of my props have finally been removed. I had no where to go. I fought for six months to stay afloat and it seemed there was no end in sight. I had struggled hard to keep everything in tact – including what dignity I had left. I was moments away from walking away and packing up my dog and just going wherever the road took me – however far until I ran out of gas. My entire being felt totally destitute. All this did was magnify the lonely emptiness I was feeling from missing my Husband. At this point, I realized I really was totally dependent on God. HE is ALL I had (and have still). I had nothing to lose. I cried out to God till I could no longer muster the strength to cry.
Some would offer that this is not really suffering for what is right. Maybe. Maybe not. At the very least it’s a part of the Law of the Harvest. You reap what you sow.
But at the same time — in my determination to do the right thing before God, God took what was meant to harm me (long story) and turned it around for my good. I’m quite sure my Husband thought it was my “just desserts” and God was “paying me back.” After all, he was not having these kinds of problems so he must be doing *everything* right, right? (He who thinks he stands should take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 1:10)
BUT! God has a plan. He was positioning me where He could bless me!! Would you believe my Covenant Mate, my Husband, offered me a place to live? At first, I was not going to accept his offer. In one sense I was too proud — but at the same time I felt like a failure and a leech. I had no place to go. I told him I’d think about it. . . .
Can you hear the devil whispering in my ear?
It’s the pride like that that got me into trouble in the first place. Here I had been crying out to God for an opportunity to be with my Husband, be close to him – just to be able to smell his cologne as he walked by or hear him breathe as he sat quietly in his chair. I missed him terribly. And here I was going to tell him no… Apparently I’m not very good at recognizing God when He shows up because this is exactly what I had been begging for – and I couldn’t see it! I was in the process of setting myself up to go work in the desert of Afghanistan as a contractor for two years. Then God said clear as day: “It is I, do not be afraid! Stay in this land and I will be with you and bless you.” Then later, “Listen my daughter, don’t go to gather grain for yourself in another field. Don’t even leave this field at all, but continue following closely behind.” God was very clear in what He said to me: “Don’t!”
Not knowing what to expect, in a huge leap of shaky faith, I said “yes.” I moved in.
Two weeks later I had a call for a J-O-B! I interviewed and competed for this job on a Thursday, signed the offer letter on Friday and started work the following Monday. More than that, I got a substantial amount MORE than what I had asked for! When they gave me my salary, I boohoo’d all over my brand new Supervisor – a man I had never met. Thank God for a gracious man – and plenty of tissues. He is a Christian man, by the way. When it happened, it happened! It fell into place so quickly, I *knew* it was God.
God is so good. Yes He is.
I have been in my job now for nearly one year – and living in the same home with my Husband. I have been blessed with so many opportunities to go places and do things with him. I have seen a lot of softening in his heart.
But then I have seen the cold hard days as well. It seems when he gets closer, satan steps in and my Beloved will become someone I don’t even recognize. Sometimes words & actions can be cruel. How heart breaking times like this are. I know this is a battle. I also know what is at stake….
I know it is the times like those that I am suffering for doing what is right. Because I continue to Stand no matter what. And in these times I know I am showing myself faithful. I have not run far and fast because the going got tough like it did when we were Married. If I’m going to run during this time of testing, then I’m probably not going to stay in a Marriage that might get a bit testy at times. It also means I’m not Standing for the right reason.
“Since Christ suffered while He was in His body, strengthen yourselves with the same way of thinking Christ had. The person who has suffered in the body is finished with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1 NCV)
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice. . . .but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God . . . . Therefore, those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, 16, 19 NASB)
“Therefore, humble yourselves under the Mighty Hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:6 NASB)
“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above ALL things keep fervent in your love for one another because Love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:7-8 NASB)
It is the Love of God Who gives you Grace in your suffering – Grace to be able to do all things in Christ Who strengthens you. It that same self-sacrificing Love that will allow you to Forgive and Love no matter what is going on around you.
Love will never see the sin of the Prodigal but will always cover over a multitude of sins.
This was the suffering of our Lord. This is the suffering of the Stander.
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