I love this woman…

This is from Beth Moore-  and just when I think the Lord is done speaking to me, He sends me a messae from a friend I have never met. I am a faithful Beth Moore reader and find her Bible knowledge something to admire, but I find her honesty something I enjoy. As a married woman who has faced hard times the last two years, this gives me overwhleming peace. Thank you to those who stuck by me without harsh words or judgement. Thank you to those who have fought for us and fought with us, thank you to my ladies to have pointed out the hard reality of truth and most of all thanks to all of you for praying for both of us. I love you beyond words…. Read on and be richly blessed!

Today’s Treasure: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

A couple of months ago Keith and I were asked if we’d be willing to come to the newlywed department on a Sunday morning at our home church for a Q and A session. Since I no longer teach a Sunday morning class on a weekly basis, we were able to say yes and, joyfully, didn’t kill each other in the lapse of time between the invitation and the presentation. This morning was our morning. As we drove the fourteen miles from our home of twenty-two years to our church of twenty-four, we were both a little quiet. Not a bad kind of quiet but an amazed kind of quiet. I think the question most on our minds was who’d have thought it? Who would ever have thought we could have a healthy enough marriage for a long enough time to be a little help to about a hundred couples just starting out? Certainly not Keith or I. We were an accident waiting to happen. Both of us broke up long term relationships that seemed vastly more promising to take the risk on one another.

Two things drove us together: strong physical attraction (I’ve long since said it was a good thing Keith was handsome. Still is.) and matching sets of emotional baggage. We were each the cutest messed up person the other had ever encountered and we began the rockiest marriage this side of the divorce courts. Our college friends made bets on us and called us the couple least likely to succeed. Our parents were galled. They liked our ex-boyfriend and girlfriend better and couldn’t see for the life of them one single thing we had in common. Keith’s parents were in shock at the wedding and mine were in mourning.Keith took a cut in pay when he went from his successful father’s allowance to a real job. After being told I’d need surgery to conceive, I turned up pregnant the second month we were married and the financial pressure nearly suffocated my new husband. Despite my inability to help bring in the bacon, I am convinced that God sent us our firstborn as a little Elmer’s glue to give us some extra incentive to stay together.

I loved Keith. I hated him. I adored him. I deplored him. I resented him. I lamented him. And I loved him again. Often in the same day. He invariably felt the same way. We’ve made it, my man and I. We made it to two stools in the newlywed department of Houston’s First Baptist Church. We lived together long enough to testify to what Keith said so beautifully this morning: We are a miracle. Never think God doesn’t perform miracles anymore. Our marriage is one of them. I looked at the lines on his handsome, tan face as he told the young men to pray for their wives and my heart surged with love and gratitude.

Above all, to our unfathomably powerful and gracious God who simply believed in us when we didn’t believe in ourselves, but also to that man sitting next to me on the stool at my church this morning. I’d like to tell you two reasons why. Keith has been a handful in plenty of ways but he has some characteristics that, to me, exceed what I’ve ever experienced in an interpersonal relationship. One is that, where I am concerned, the man has kept no record of wrongs. I have done my share of things to tear at our marriage in our history together. Some of those things he could have thrown up to me every time he needed extra ammunition in a conflict. He’s never done it. Not once. When I have sincerely (he is the fastest bull-reader in the West. He’s onto insincerity in a second flat) and tearfully asked Keith’s forgiveness for something, I have gotten it. Once and for all. Kind of like Jesus. Keith has done plenty of things I could have held against him, too, but you’d have to be a pretty big loser to keep a record of wrongs with someone who doesn’t.

The other is that Keith has always been willing to talk through something with me. You will never meet a manlier man than Keith but his heart is as tender as warm butter. I realize how blessed I am when a wife tells me her husband just won’t talk about their problems or a broken place in her heart. Keith has always been willing to talk something through. My man, handful that he is, has also been the first of us to go face to the floor before God when he knew we had acted stupid and needed God to restore us.

I am a blessed woman. Not because I’ve always had a great marriage but because I have a man willing to change, willing to say he’s wrong, and, more than anything else, willing to fall in love again. I told the group this morning that I could have walked away from my marriage about seven or eight years into it and justified for the rest of my days why I left. I could have thought to myself for decades to come, “I’m so glad I got away from that jerk” and I would have missed the most precious, fulfilling relationship of my earthly life. And the hardest.

 Many of the people you know who divorced really could have been happy and healthy if they’d waited it out, humbled themselves before God and one another, and gotten over the hump. Please don’t misunderstand me. The last thing I want to do is condemn people whose marriages have ended. Many of them have suffered plenty. Furthermore, Keith and I have had such sin in our lives that we’d dare not cast a stone. This devotional is a plea to those who haven’t divorced (yet) to stick it out, stay married, and let God perform a miracle in your hearts no matter what has happened. The difference between divorced couples and long-married couples is not the amount of problems. It’s not the amount of passion. It’s the amount of pure, unadulterated tenacity.

At Living Proof Ministries, the prayer requests that most often come to us are for marriages. Today I write to you and plead with you to fight for yours. To try again. To forgive again. To love again. To go get counseling…maybe again. To pray again and again and again and again. And, if at all possible, together. This morning when Keith was asked what one thing he believed I had done that had contributed most to our marriage, he said without hesitation, “I’d get up in the morning and she’d be praying…for me.” Prayer is your most powerful weapon as you fight for your marriage. Pray for God to return love where it has long since waned. Pray for God to create love where it has never existed. Pray for God to give your spouse eyes for you and you eyes for him…alone. Pray for change and be the first one to volunteer. Pray with faith, knowing that the God of the universe is for you.

Put space between yourselves and every person (even family members) who speak poison into your marriage.And, if you haven’t already, get your hind-ends in a church with other couples who want to make it. Keith and I realized today that every single one of the couples in our very first young-marrieds Sunday school department are still together…except the teachers. It’s one thing to say what we believe. It’s another thing when life is hard and other options look appetizing to live what we believe. Fight for your marriage. Do the hard work. And one day you’ll look a young couple in the eye going through the shock of early marriage and be able to say with passion and authenticity, “You really can do this.” And perhaps they will.  

Lord, I earnestly ask for the faith to believe that my marriage can be successful.  I know that nothing is too hard for You, Lord.  I believe You are for us and You are willing to equip us for victory.  I ask for the tenacity to get over the hump when we go through seasons of marital hardship.  Please birth in us the desire to pray together and pray for each other.  Enable us through the power of the Holy Spirit to do whatever it takes to make it.  Let us refuse to accept defeat.  Lord, may the testimony of our marriage bring hope to others and glory to You.  In the redeeming name of Jesus Christ, Amen.   

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