by Pastor Tim Burt
As a Pastor, I was asked to give spiritual guidance for marriage to struggling couples countless times. Sometimes I’d have both the husband and wife really wanting to make things work. That is best case scenario with the best potential to succeed. Other times I’d have a husband that wanted to fight for his marriage but his wife didn’t. Or a wife that wanted to fight for her marriage but the husband didn’t. These marriages are extremely difficult to help. In any case, I felt obligated by the Word of God to point couples to Jesus, to His Word, and to believe for a miracle of resurrected love that can only come when hearts are open to learn and be corrected by God’s Word.
The Word of God doesn’t give me permission to say, Just hang it up – you two will never make it. Only in cases of infidelity abuse, or when one person is married to an unbeliever, does God show allowance through His Word. (And by the way, this is not to judge or condemn anyone who is remarried or who has been divorced. Let’s look forward—not back!)
I have never hidden the fact that Renee and I had problems in the first few years of our marriage. We were passionately in love yet plagued by immaturity. We were stubborn and selfish and had slightly delusional ideas of how marriage was supposed to work as we entered marriage. Most everyone thinks they can figure out how to be married. They think love will conquer all—that is until they face a brutal awakening.
There were times where each of us would occasionally be haunted with the thought, We might not make it. We didn’t say it out loud to each other, but later we confessed that it was a thought we to each had to cast out of our thinking! We hated the thought. We wanted to make it but those kinds of thoughts do come when you feel like your feelings of love for each other have become faint to non-existent. So what kept us fighting for our marriage?
Being Christians, we didn’t want our marriage to fail. What kind of testimony to God’s love and power is that? We didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment. We didn’t want to be failures. We didn’t want to be viewed as phonies and hypocrites. Those were all poor reasons for wanting to have a good marriage and yet I am glad they were there. Good or bad reasons, they helped us hang in there.
There were also the right and most important reasons that we couldn’t quit. First, we knew it was not God’s will. We believed there had to be a way to turn it around. We believed and had faith in that. Secondly, strange as it may sound, in the midst of the turmoil, I knew that I had loved my wife and that love still had to be in there. Until those feelings were resurrected, I had to live out of the commitment that comes with love. Love is more than some elusive feeling. Third, we truly believed God always has the answers you need if you’ll just seek Him. He is always there and not just willing, but desiring to help you get it right! Always! The question was, were we willing to humble ourselves and seek Him in whatever way it took to get the answers and help from Him to turn it around? We were! We both loved God. We were both determined to not let Satan eat our lunch. We were both determined to fulfill God’s will. And so we fought for it harder than we fought each other!
I sought the Lord often asking Him to change me and help me do whatever it took to turn our marriage around. In the midst of marriage troubles, it almost always feels like your spouse is the problem. I went to the Lord not asking Him to change her, but to help me change. To do that took spending time in prayer and God’s Word. Honestly, most people aren’t willing to pay this kind of price. But the price to co-exist unhappily is higher than the price to seek God for the answers and strength to change what needs to be changed.
He opened my eyes to look at things that bothered me with a new and fresh perspective. He helped me be more patient and kind in my temperament. He helped me to value the good I saw in Renee and overlook little quirks she had. I had them too! We all do! He helped me in ways that I don’t have words for. He restored our love for each other. Within a couple of years of being newlyweds, with God’s help, we were able to inwardly change and mature and watch our marriage mature. Our marriage got better every year. We now have an awesome marriage and we have matured in our love in more ways than I can describe. It makes me so thankful to God.
The Word of God can be so powerful and alive! In John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is called “the Counselor who will teach us in ALL things.” Think about that. He is the Counselor. In other words, the advice, the wisdom, the help, the perfect counsel from the one whom is ALL KNOWING is available to those that seek Him! That is why we could not quit. God honored that and now I have the marriage I dreamed of when it was the marriage I toyed with throwing away.
I’ve learned that I can’t make anyone believe God when He says, “All things are possible to Him who believes,” but I know it’s true and I do believe it! That’s all I can do and all I can share with others. They have to come to that conclusion by seeking Him themselves and ask God to renew their hope and move forward from there. The true spiritual guidance any of us need for any area of our life is present within us if we have Jesus as our Lord and the Holy Spirit as our Counselor!
Mark 10:7-9 NIV “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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