May 29, 2006
Your mother and I are now at the age, it seems, when we are starting to see more and more married couples we have known that are close to our age (late twenties, early thirties) headed for divorce. Currently, I could list three marriages in which both the husband and wife at one time professed faith in Christ, but in each of these marriages one of the partners has or is committing adultery and refuses to repent.
Currently, your mom and I are quite thrilled with one another. Having your mom as my wife is one of the reasons I have no problem believing that God is gracious toward me! But is our marriage strong because we are so loving toward one another? Have we avoided falling because we are so smart and our friends were not? Well, there is definitely human responsibility involved in growing together as husband and wife, but ultimately the reason we remain and grow together is the grace of God. Amy Maxwell, our dear friend and sister in Christ, has addressed this issue so thoughtfully that I want to provide her thoughts below (these were originally recorded on her husband's blog, "Blind Man's Fancy"):
"Our prayer walk began in its usual way today. I unloaded the stroller, buckled Lidi in and then she and I began our quiet stroll through neighborhoods and our favorite city park. I began thanking God for the cool breeze, the towering trees that give us shade, the soft grass that is wet on our feet, the songs of PRAISE from birds soaring through the air.
I then began to pray for our dear friends and family. Every day I persist in prayer for each of them believing that God CAN restore broken relationships. How I hurt over our dear friends who are teetering on the brink of divorce. I weep just thinking about those we love the most being ripped apart by lies: lies that stem from the very lust of their own hearts (James 1).
But, today as I was pleading on behalf of those I love and lifting up my heart's requests, my Father gently spoke to me! How I treasure those times of prayer when I can hear that gentle whisper of the Father, speaking truth and reminding me of who He is!
No longer do I hear my own babblings and selfish desires. No longer is my mind racing and wandering with each new request. No longer is it me that takes front and center. But it is God alone who holds my attention. It is He alone that speaks so loudly that everything else is silenced and still.
I am humbled.
My Father gently reminded me today that I am no different than my adulterous friends. I am no different from the man who abandons his wife and child searching for a life free of rules and conviction. I am no different from the women who got pregnant out of wedlock. I am no different than the man who sits at his computer overtaken by images of pornography. I am no different from the man who beats his wife. I am that very same sinner.
As my Father replayed the images of my life and reckless sin, I began to see His ever present hand.
What has made my marriage different? What has kept my life intact? It is nothing I have done. It is not because I am "good" enough or that I have the strength to restrain myself. It is only through the provision, mercy, grace and love of my Father. For reasons we may never know this side of Heaven, He allows His hand to raise a bit higher on some, letting them reap the full consequences of their sin. And yet, for others, He keeps them close in the "shadow of His wings" (Psalm 57).
As I remembered my stupid, selfish, ignorant sin, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. Why did God spare me? Why did He not let me rot in my sin and spiral down into the trenches of Hell?
I see a Father who is ever present. He is always with me, teaching me and correcting me. He is a Father who disciplines. Sometimes it may have been a gentle reminder through His Word. And yet, sometimes His discipline has been hard and painful.
But my Father has always been there, always loving and always wise! It is my Father who has been at work in me, not I. I see how He has been at work all of these years transforming me and conforming me into the likeness of my elder brother, Christ Jesus!"
Kids, please pray that God would continue to pour out His grace upon mom and me "until death do us part." And may you consistently recognize your sinfulness and zealously depend upon the provision, mercy, grace, and love of God in Christ both in your lives and, if God provides a spouse, in your marriages.
Grace to You,