Come with me to the 15th chapter of Jeremiah, and read along as this well-known prophet is having a conversation with the Lord. I warn you in advance, he is not in a good mood.
15 Jeremiah: “Lord, you know it is for your sake that I am suffering. They are persecuting me because I have proclaimed your word to them. Don’t let them kill me! Rescue me from their clutches, and give them what they deserve! 16 Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear your name, O Lord.
17-18 I have not joined the people in their merry feasts. I sit alone beneath the hand of God. I burst with indignation at their sins. Yet you have failed me in my time of need! You have let them keep right on with all their persecutions. Will they never stop hurting me? Your help is as uncertain as a seasonal mountain brook—sometimes a flood, sometimes as dry as a bone.”
19 The Lord replied: “Stop this foolishness and talk some sense! Only if you return to trusting me will I let you continue as my spokesman. You are to influence them, not let them influence you! 20 They will fight against you like a besieging army against a high city wall. But they will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and deliver you, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:15-20 TLB)
How well I remember running smack dab into that scripture years ago when things were pretty heated at my house! I was being persecuted just like Jeremiah for being obedient to the Lord. And I, too, felt that the Lord was just sitting there doing nothing about it! I kind of let it be known to the Lord that is how I felt. (ugh)
Was the Lord saying to me like He did to Jeremiah, “Stop it, Martha! Stop this foolishness and talk some sense! You are to influence them, not let them influence you. (By them, I knew He meant my husband, the one who was persecuting me for my faith.) Influence him? I can’t even get my head off the pillow, and You want me to influence him?
Influence is defined as: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Obviously, I needed help in that corner, so I went on a search. For starters, I looked at the life of Paul. A statement from the Apostle Paul shocked me: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
Paul’s words sounded brassy, almost arrogant. How could Paul possibly suggest that people follow his example? Wasn’t Paul flawed just like me?
As I continued studying Paul’s life, I came to see this statement in a more positive light. As you know, Paul had a dramatic conversion experience and was transformed by Christ. I think he was simply saying, “I am trying to follow the example of Christ so closely, that you can look at me and know how to influence lives as Jesus did.”
And thus my journey took a shift. Instead of whining about my persecutor, I made an all-out effort through prayer and study to change my attitude, my behavior, and grow in knowledge of my identity in Christ.
Was I now influencing my husband with this transformation in me? Let me put it this way. I still have days like Jeremiah, (though fewer in number) but like Paul, I am giving it my best shot to follow the example of Christ, so I can positively influence the man I live with.
Fast forward to 2019– another teacher, author, prophetess–our own Lynn Donovan, entered the arena calling for another shift in how to influence our mate.
When we categorize a person, Muslim, unbeliever, looser, etc., unbeknownst to us, in the spiritual, we asserted an accusation against them. Upon doing so, we unknowingly lose all influence in their life because a wall of accusation is constructed.
We can’t consider them properly. We are unable to see them through the eyes of Christ because we haven’t honored them for who they are currently.
Let’s catch our words and ask the Lord, “God, who is this person? How do you see them?” And when we choose to let go and reject any residue of religion, societal protocols, family history, and cultural constructs, the walls crumble and we see the truest part of the human in front of us. And when we catch a glimpse of what God beholds and adores. This intentionality changes our heart and our prayers. It opens up influence.
And with that, she showed us how to pray Marriage Prayers of Influence.
Sumites, our journey may be long, even hard at times, but I believe that we have been chosen for such a time as this.
I’d also like to believe that when we get to heaven and Jesus is passing out rewards, we will hear Him say: “Sumites, come forward, and bring your spouse with you.”
And then, He presents us with an engraved trophy.
Can you say Amen for being an influencer??