I am not one who is prone to having “visions” from God. He most often speaks to me through His Word and through His people. However, occasionally I will see in my mind something that He wants me to “hear”. A number of years ago, God spoke to me through a vision, and He has reminded me of it several times lately. With the full knowledge that some of you may think I’m crazy (others of you already KNOW that to be true), I feel compelled to share my vision.
A little background: Dave and I met and married at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University). Several years after graduation (after our own marriage had teetered on the brink of divorce and been redeemed by Christ), we were hearing about many of our fellow alumini’s failed marriages. This was a very difficult time for me, because Dave and I were on the tail-end of re-claiming our relationship for Christ and I was exhausted from the struggle– but we were just starting to reap some of the rewards that come from a well-fought war. Now, on to my vision…
As I was going about my day, all of a sudden a light shone down from Heaven and I heard angels singing.
Just kidding. That didn’t really happen.
Actually, in my mind, I was standing at the entrance to JBC, facing the campus. Dozens upon dozens of couples were streaming out of the gates, smiling broadly, hand-in-hand, with determination on their faces. I understood that they were ready to change the world. As I was watching these peers of mine walk past me, the “cameraman” panned around to the opposite angle so that I was watching them walk away from me. Every single one of those people–my friends, my Christian family, my peers–had a target on their back. I felt the sneer of the Enemy as he watched them and plotted to destroy what God had brought together. I then got goosebumps as I discovered a target on my own back. Satan wanted me to fail. He was after my marriage and He was after every other God-ordained and Christ-centered marriage on the planet. That made me angry. It still makes me angry.
Some of you think I have a perfect marriage. I don’t. As long as my husband is married to me, this union will be imperfect. I am hopelessly flawed. (Well, maybe Dave has a few slight imperfections, too…but don’t tell him I said that.) Our marriage has survived a lot of ugliness, and there are things I would still like to see change. But, if those things stay the same, I am still committed to Dave.
Dave and I have a choice as to what kind of legacy we want to leave to our children. Some days, I may not be thinking about the long-term; I’m more focused on the petty annoyances of the here and now…or maybe I’m thinking about the aches and pains of the past. Believe me! There are LOTS of aches and pains in our past. I think the only marital misery that hasn’t touched us is that of substance abuse. In our almost nineteen years, we’ve dealt with (or are dealing with) the rest of them: financial pressures/differences, adultery, selfishness, intimacy issues, pornography, unrealistic expectations, family boundaries, differences in parenting styles, insecurities, baggage from previous relationships, blah, blah, blah.
Marriage is tough. We make it tougher when we take our eyes off Jesus. So…what made the difference in our marriage? Jesus. You can roll your eyes if you want, but He did. I had to change the way I was doing things in order to come more in line with what He wanted me to do. It was hard. I resisted. It wasn’t fair. But it worked. The bottom line is that I had a choice. I couldn’t control Dave. I still can’t. To be honest, I got tired of trying and have pretty much given up on that. That’s up to God above. And, to be honest, it’s a relief. I have a hard enough time trying to control ME! Why in the world do I want to add another person to my list?
The more I’ve focused on doing what God wants me to do, the less I worry about Dave doing what I want him to do. And, remarkably, I find less to pick at about Dave. If I’m not focused on his handful of flaws, I can bask in his many gifts. I certainly don’t want him to focus on the negative parts of my personality, so why would I focus on his?
Anyway, for all of you who are in a marriage ordained by God Almighty: Your marriage is under attack. Your spouse is not your enemy. Satan is. The Bible tells us that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). Marriage is under attack on a number of levels. Do what you need to do to win this war. Go to a Christian counselor, read God’s Word, talk to someone you trust who will guide you with wisdom and compassion. Ask for forgiveness, forgive freely. Keep your mouth shut. Refuse to engage in verbal assault. Fast. Pray. Humble yourself. Break off damaging relationships–relationships that detract from the spouse you are called to be. I have done all of these things at different times. None of them are easy. There were times when even one of them took every ounce of strength I had available to me at the time. As I honored God, though, He gave me HIS strength–made perfect in my weakness. I am so thankful for that.
Remember: This is war. And it’s a war worth fighting. For yourself, for your children and for the Kingdom of God. Please let me know if I can pray for you specifically. I will commit to doing so. Hold onto the HOPE!