I am wondering if any of you will be asking your spouse to attend Easter services with you?
Are you feeling anxious about asking? About Him attending?
Let’s talk about that today in the comments. I’m looking for suggestions and ideas to share with our community to encourage our spouses to attend church and yet preserve the peace in our home and at church, if our spouse decides to join the family.
Today, I want to chat about another big issue that was mentioned back in December when we began this journey.
GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.
Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr
This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.
First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.
Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???
My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier.
Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.
It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.
Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.
I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.
But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.
So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.
Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.
BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!
My heart and head is full of thoughts and emotions when I consider raising our kids in church. I share a number of my thoughts and experiences in chapter four about kids and church, youth group (to go or not to go), the conflict within our homes with Dad and so on….
But in this moment as I write about our kids and church, the faithfulness of God overflows in my spirit and stirs my heart.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m pondering an ordinary, yet profound moment. You see, everything I’ve done to raise my daughter, all the words I’ve written about parenting culminated in this morning. I was humbled to watch the faithfulness of God unfold in front of my eyes in a beautiful moment.
I will tell you that my daughter, who was raised in a spiritually mismatched home all of her life, has been walking through a season of crisis and doubt about her faith. Several circumstances have contributed to this season. I have prayed with faith for her. I’ve talked with her. I’ve argued and there may have been moments of loud conflict between us *sheepish grin*. However THIS MORNING God showed me how very powerful “my faith and my prayers” have been in the life of this child. AND interestingly, in the lives of her friends.
Following one of our long discussions several weeks ago, I decided not to push her to attend church with me while she is home on her college summer break. So, on Saturday night I set my alarm and was heading to bed. My cell phone buzzed. It’s my daughter calling me from someplace in town where she met up with her friends for ice cream.
“Mom, I just wanted to catch you before you go to sleep.”
“Okay, I’m still awake.” She knows that I go to bed really early.
“Well, Mom, I want to go to church with you in the morning. Oh and I want to bring my friend who I plan to pick up and bring him to our house in the morning. Then can we swing by and pick up Gina because she wants to go with us too.”
“Sure thing Sweetie. I love you. See you in the morning.”
“Nite, nite Mom.
As I write this I’m an ordinary and thankful mother because God is so faithful. I sat in a row of chairs at church with my daughter who worshiped with her full heart. Her BFF, and two other young men who are her good friends were sitting with us. A row of young people who wanted to attend church. Young men and women who want to know Jesus and to walk in real faith.
I looked down the row and was overwhelmed by God’s love as I watched them all worship together.
Mom and Dad, our kids watch us. They are looking to see if WE believe. They are looking to us to show them the way in a world that is confusing and brutal.
We have two powerful weapons to war for our children. We have profound influence in their lives. AND we have the ear of the King!
Mom and Dad, your kids will choose one day to attend church on their own because you were faithful to love Jesus out loud before them. Day after day, moment after moment. Faithfully reading God’s Word. Daily praying for them by name.
THAT is what legacy is all about. That is what loving Jesus with our full heart will yield. That is what chapter four is all about…. Churched Kids, who will one day walk into a life-long faith in Jesus.
And if you are not seeing that right now, never stop praying! I believe the prodigals will be running home!
I would love to hear your thoughts about chapter four. It would bless me greatly if you would PLEASE share your stories of how you are impacting your children for the Kingdom. Please, please share because there is another mama or dad out there that needs your wisdom and your story to help them in parenting their children to faith.
I love you so much. Mom and Dad you are more powerful than you know. You are walking in a path of eternal impact. So WARRIOR ON and let’s lead our children by our love for Jesus.
Have an amazing week. Now go hug your kids and tell them that Jesus loves them!!! (An unexpected text works too) Hugs, Lynn
My friends, we’ve been set up. But in a good way. A great way. Let me explain. Or better yet, I’ll let Peter explain…
This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.
They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. — 1 Peter 1:10-12 NLT
We walk in this truth today, the very truth of salvation that the prophets and even the angels eagerly awaited. What must it have been like for those prophets to catch a glimpse of God’s plan, yet not be given the opportunity to experience it? I can easily picture Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah along with the other prophets, standing among the angels as they watched God’s plan unfold in the birth of a baby and explode on a cross. Did they point and exclaim, “God told me He was going to do that!”
Stunning to think about this grand set up and we are the “set-up-ees.” Peter further expounds on God’s plan by reminding us of the cost.
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. — 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT
I believe Peter wanted his readers to clearly understand that God’s plan of salvation was not the invention of men, but the long term solution from God. Man had already turned the early commandments given to Moses into a religion (Judaism) with twice as many rules and more coming. Peter wanted to be very clear that this was the FINAL answer and not just another rule or method.
For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say,
“People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT
Peter’s last line there gives key insight. The New Testament uses two Greek words that describe Scripture, which are translated as “word.” John referred to Jesus as the Word, using the Greek word, logos, which has a list of meanings that would take a blog post of its own. In essence, it refers to a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea, the sayings of God, decree or mandate. The Divine Expression—Christ.
But when Peter uses it in verse 25, he uses the Greek word, rhēma, defined as that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word. Essentially, Peter is saying that the words preached to them held the truth of the Good News—the new message of Christ and His salvation, which would become the New Testament as we know it today and is the revelation of all that was foretold in the Old Testament. Some call these Holy Spirit inspired words, rhēma words, which agree with Scripture and are life-giving to the recipient.
Jesus was the Word that already existed, through whom all was created and through whom all would be saved (John 1:1-5). Jesus was the living and final WORD, the word become flesh. That is what Peter wanted his readers to know. That although the Good News as preached to them was not written (yet) in scrolls as the Old Testament, they still held the truth of God.
All this Peter did to build up to his case of who we are in this Good News preached by the disciples. The very definition of who people were in God’s great plan was about to shift to a place of equality and uniqueness that people hadn’t heard as of yet, but would in actuality be the revelation of what God intended all along.
No longer would people define their relationship with God with the help of the Law and a priest (Pharisee). For the first time since the Garden of Eden, men and women would know the One True God personally and intimately, because He made His home in temples of flesh instead of stone, and they were essentially their own priest, so to speak. The Holy Spirit had come to dwell in each person, connecting all to God the Father through Christ and to each other as the body of Christ.
In essence, our identity changed from being outwardly defined to inwardly created. We are new creations, and royal priests, as Peter says. He also calls us living stones, chosen and precious in the sight of God,like Jesus was chosen and precious.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV
My friends, I will stop here and save the rest for next week. What Peter told the early believers was life changing then, and it still is today. In the meantime, think about the reference to a cornerstone.
What was a cornerstone and Who is the cornerstone? I bet you already know the answer to the second part, but have some fun finding out the first part. I’ll share that in part two.
Love you, my friends! Having a blast with you as we study Peter!
I have to chuckle. Over the past few months reading through comments, Facebook posts and emails I have received, all of the “SUMite” puns. Hilarious! SUMthings about happen. To SUM things up. Is SUMone praying? Can I just say that SUM of you are very witty and hilarious.
It’s the little nuances such as this that make our home on the web, a family. We are a family and SUM is a place where we are loved and where we love. Thank you SUMites for how you love Jesus and how well you love one another.
And I guess I feel this post is leading to an entirely different topic than I expected. You see over the past seven days my daughter and I have experienced some weird situations. Conflict over beliefs with other believers.
Now don’t panic. I’m not going to cause a debate in our Home on the web here. In fact, I think it’s remarkable the kind of unity that we experience in our SUM House considering all the different steams of faith represented here. And Dineen and I are very careful and intentional to focus on what unites and not on what divides. We focus on only two things.
Love God… Love people….
But what do we do when we don’t see eye to eye? My daughter and I have been living this out as of late. It’s hard enough to stand in our faith when facing harsh words from our unbelieving spouse. But it’s even more difficult to face conflict with people who are “supposed to be on our side.”
Do you agree?
Well, in both cases we must let love be our compass and focus on what we have in common. This works both with our pre-believers and those who have differing ideological views. And right behind love, we must walk the road of forgiveness.
However, the most difficult to forgive are those who are in the church that wound us.
Am I right?
Recently I listened to Ann Graham Lotz share how she overcame pain when she was wounded by her church. She shares how she was part of a church for 15 years, raised her children in this particular church and yet on one Sunday morning the church dismissed her husband from leadership.
THIS IS WORTH A LISTEN MY FRIENDS.
Thank you for loving Dineen and I even when we might offend, hurt or fail you. Please know we would never do so with intention. I know many times I would like to respond to the many email, comments and messages that arrive and I simply can’t do it. I might write words such as “I’m Pissed Off” and you choose not to take offense but see how I remain committed to authenticity. I pray more than anything that you see our imperfect hearts are filled with love for you. It’s the love of a perfect Father, His Son, Jesus and the love of the Spirit. That remains our highest purpose when you visit our home on the web.
The calling in this season of the Kingdom upon the House of SUM, is to love God. Love People. Amen and AMEN!
My friends, I have so loved reading your comments on this worship series. You have shared your hearts and prayers. I have found myself inspired many times by what you share, have even prayed your words! And I know other have too.
First, I want to share my first taste of corporate worship…
Anticipation buzzed in the air and the low rumble of voices. The stadium was packed. Thousands of believers stood ready and waiting to hear Third Day. Though I’d attended concerts before, this was my first Christian concert. Third Day came out, the music started, and soon, to my utter amazement, I stood, arms up like many there, not just singing to songs but worshiping God. Ten thousand strong. We didn't know each other, but we knew God.
I'll never forget that moment years ago. I felt like I had a glimpse of what Heaven would be like and I think I have sought after and hungered for more of it ever since. There is something powerful in corporate worship, about standing with our brothers and sisters in Christ and lifting our voices in song and praise. Just like Scripture says when two or more gather together, our prayers are heard, I believe when voices are raised together in true worship, we invite the presence of God to come as a community unified in love for God and each other and the desire to bring Him glory.
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” — Matthew 18:19-20 NLT
When we worship, He is there among us! Do you believe it?
Are you willing to trust Him with your heart so He can show you His?
This is the place I sense God calling us, His children, to grow the most right now as He is moving, shifting and about toturn things around (click to read about this in my Word of Encouragement post). It's about His children coming together in unified purpose—His purpose—to release the power of God over ourselves, the nations and the world. It is about experiencing a foretaste of Heaven and witnessing the body of Christ in presence and action.
Whether spoken prayers or sung words, this is His promise and our joy to experience His presence, to call out to our God and proclaim our Savior, to honor Him and bring Him great glory. The Creator of the Universe is blessed and pleased when His creation—His children—acknowledge Him.
The exchange is intimate, yet corporate. We stand in the shadow of Heaven to come, yet in the full inheritance of our identity as His children. It is stunning. It is powerful. It is a gift.
Saturday’s post and list talked about humility. Worship is that time to humble ourselves before God to worship in truth and spirit so that we may know Him better and join Him in His purposes.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. — 1 Peter 5:6
I remember as a new believer standing in church or Bible study waiting for the music to be done so we could move on to the better stuff. Now I go to church excited, anticipating this opportunity to worship God with my church family and it is never long enough (as I shared we're in the baby stages of becoming a worshipping church).
My friends, my relationship with God and my kingdom perspective greatly expanded when I began worshiping, truly worshiping, God. I told you in the series I wrote about transforming the mind that God told me once that I would find Him in worship.
It is the truth. We find Him in astounding ways individually and, in a corporate setting, we find the power of His Presence and it is a game changer!
Again, I think I could go on and on here. Share in the comments what you have experienced in corporate worship. I know this kind of worship can be a challenge to find at times—I experience this myself, thus why I love the chance to go to faith conferences or Christian concerts. Or visit another church on occasion.
And be sure to come back Saturday for the conclusion of this series. This is one you won’t want to miss: Spiritual Warfare Through Worship. I will share a story of how I fought the enemy off with worship.
In the meantime, my SUM family, I am praying for our Great God to meet you in worship and show you His glory!
My friends, today I will finish my Bethel story but I want you to know that this adventure is far from over. Our journey with God is an ongoing adventure that unfolds on a daily basis. I’m stunned at times to go back and read in my journal what I’ve written down and then forgotten! I’m so glad I can go back and be reminded of these things because sometimes those little moments wind up being key to understanding what a big one means.
As I will share today. I had a small moment before the conference where I found a dime and penny on the ground during one of my walks. God has me picking up pennies a lot this last year as part of my growing faith and trust in Him to provide for us during these financially trying times. I’ve shared much of that with you in the past. (I have an update on that to share with you soon too!)
That day when I picked up not just a penny but a dime too, Abba whispered to me, “I will increase in you tenfold.” When I got home I placed that dime and penny in front of my keyboard as a constant reminder of what God had spoken to me.
So, on this particular day now after the conference I was walking around the park yet again. Each time I circle the spot where I found the dime and penny, I am reminded again of what God spoke to me that day. I believe the things that happened at Bethel are all part of that.
That morning I had spoken to Lynn on the phone about my hubby. She’d been praying for him and felt that God showed her that when he does come to Jesus, it will be very emotional for him. She even said he’d cry for a week! My guy doesn’t like to show it, but I know he’s a deep feeler when it comes to his emotions. I think he tends to guard himself in this area too.
Back to my walk and pray that morning. I began to pray for my husband and about what Lynn has shared with me. Then, wham! A slew of emotions that I can only describe as not my own brought me to tears. Intense grief and a series of emotional flashes of all the things my husband had missed and would one day mourn that he had.
Key events like our daughters accepting Jesus, baptisms, reading the Bible to them and more cerebral, our ongoing faith walks and growth. Dealing with our youngest daughter’s cancer and how God worked so miraculously even in the small things.
Then it stopped as quick as it hit. My friends, I kid you not. This was not my grief. I don’t even know if I could have believed such a thing possible had I not experienced it myself!
As I continue to walk (and sniffle), I prayed over my husband for all of this. First in my heart and mind and then out loud. Thankfully there weren’t many people around at the moment or I might have gone back to being silent for what happened next. And what I spoke—prophesied—had to be spoken out loud.
I believe the Holy Spirit had risen up in me and was fueling my passion and my prayer, and He was giving me the words, because they stopped me in my tracks. I had to literally stop and consider what had just been spoken aloud over my husband.
Why? Because it was what I had been praying for him for years. Not in these words, not in this declaration, not how I would have said it. No, this was the Holy Spirit speaking the truth through me for my husband, out loud and for all the heavenlies and the spiritual realm to take notice.
My arm shot into the air and this poured out: “The Lord God Almighty will call forth Mike Miller to be a son of God, and he will serve the Lord all the days of his life.”
Whoa! Amen! Yes, Lord, yes! I believe it! I’ve shared in the past that when my hubby comes to Jesus, I want him ALL in. And I know that is the desire of Abba’s heart too.
My friends, I want to tell you that God is opening doors that I’m stunned to stand in front of—doors for this ministry, doors for my family and doors for me. Like the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:15, who stood in the doorway, ready to receive what Elisha had to give her—a prophetic word about a son.
I’ve heard this Scripture referred to a lot lately, because God is using it to show so many that we need to be standing in that doorway, ready to receive what He wants to give us. I’m already seeing many of you walking in places you haven’t before and using your spiritual gifts. And it seems the more we share here the more that escalates.
Because these gifts are meant to be shared. They are not for us. We carry them to serve others. (Read James 4:2-3) And when we function in this way, as Abba intends us to, we are extending His kingdom and preparing others to do likewise. Abba is showing me how I need to take what I’m learning (and I still have so much to learn!) and not only share it here but also with my daughters too.
So, my dear friends, I want to encourage you to continue to seek God for what He has uniquely gifted you to do. Ask Him to place specific people and things in your path to help you grow in your gifts and your faith. I did that a while back and within a day I had an email from a church I was familiar with for a course about prophetic activation that launched me into a whole new realm of function and understanding.
If you can’t find what you need at your church, check out other reputable churches that offer courses like these for all to come, not just their own membership.
Look for and research books. There are some really great books out there by Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, Kris Vallotton, Dan McCollam and James W. Goll (I highly recommend The Lifestyle of a Prophet for everyone because it is truly about our relationship with God). Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and protect your heart from any deception, and do your research. Above all, read your Bible. That must always come first because if you don’t know the truth, you won’t be able to recognize the lies out there.
As I prayed and asked Abba how to end this post, He said to tell you this, “Seek me above all else, even above these gifts.”
My friends, if we don’t make our relationship with Him first—always—we run the risk of making an idol out of the very things we are asking Him for. Cultivate your relationship with Abba first so as to build character and to learn to hear Him better and better. Because without Him, all of this meaningless.
If you have questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am happy to share all that I know and am learning. And know that I am constantly praying over this community, for Abba to release all He has for us and equip us as He has planned from the beginning. I rejoice and shout praises to the heavens when I see one of you begin to walk in trust and new ways with our Precious Lord. It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness!
So, this is a difficult post for me to write. However, I’m
following the Lord’s lead as there must be one other person, in addition to me,
who needs this word.
My home church where I have served and worshiped for 12
years is teetering on the precipice of a split. And I am grieved deeply in my spirit over this. The
thoughts of people whom I love possibly now hating another person in our church stabs my
heart in searing pain.
Grief has sat heavily on me now for several days as I have
prayed and ponder over the people of God. So this morning as I left for an early walk in the frosty wilderness, I was contemplating our church. I was carrying
the heartbreak on my soul.
I began walking and noticed the geese feeding in the field.
Such beauty. And as I turned to head down a different road, that is when all of it hit
me. The full spectrum of grief I’ve been carrying over this split came upon me
with such a force that I started to bawl. I full on cried, out loud, while
walking by the horse pasture. Big heaving sobs complete with snot bubbles and
tears dropping from my cheeks.
As I cried, I prayed, “O Lord, I am so sorry. I am so sorry
this is happening to your people. I am so sorry.”
I walked a little further, gathering myself down to sniffles
and nose wipes and it was at that point, in that moment, I thought of Paul and
how he grieved over the people of Israel. And I said to God the same thing Paul
said and in that moment and I was genuinely sincere, “Lord, I would die to save
the unity of these people.”
And out of the blue I heard God immediately respond, “Lynn, My
Son already died to save their unity.”
Full on bawling again.
“O, Lord, I am so sorry. Jesus died for our unity.” At this
point, it’s complete blubbering.
Through my tears God said to me, “Unity in my people is
vastly important. It is in this corporate environment that my power is
amplified. Miracles, healings, restoration happens. Remember the scripture,
where two or more are gather, there I am also? Well, it’s in the united hearts
and souls which brings my Kingdom power to earth and hinders the devil. That is
why the enemy works so hard to destroy believers who unite to serve Me.
Then I felt the Lord calm my spirit and speak directly to me
again, “Lynn, you keep your eyes on me. You are to stay so intensely focused on
me that you can’t be distracted by the dialogs and discontent happening around
you.” And God went on, “Lynn, don’t you ever lose perspective that any ministry
given to an individual to lead, including a church, has been given by Me.
“You must hold your own ministry very loosely. There will
come a day, possibly even as early as tomorrow that I will demand the surrender
of your ministry. This ministry that you started is not your empire. This
ministry is and always has been Mine. There will be a day when a younger woman
will come along and she will take the reins and you must step away. You may
lose the leadership of your ministry through deception or it could even be
stolen from you. But, you are not to fight but to depart with all the dignity
and honor of which I have bestowed to you.”
“Lynn, and if you never serve Me again in any public manner,
then you MUST KNOW that I AM all you need.”
“I Am the Great I Am. I will always take care of you.”
I finished my walk today with understanding and yet still
with a broken heart.
However, I am firm in my commitment to hold this ministry in which the Lord allows me to serve
with a very lose grip.
And one thing I know that is for certain. Dineen and I WILL ALWAYS BE all about what we are “FOR” in
this ministry and not what we are against. And what is it that we are “for” you
ask? The two things that matter the most to God.
Thank you for allowing Dineen and I to serve you. We love
you more than mere humble words can say. And for those of you who live with
unbelieving husbands or wives, a church split is devastating to their salvation. It
affirms every lie they been told about church, faith and God. So armor up my
friends because the enemy is prowling and the wounded and bleeding are falling
But, we serve THE GREAT I AM.
So enemy, you are hereby put on notice....... Expect some
serious butt kickin’.
We are going to step into the realms of the Spiritual
battles in January. I hope you plan to be part of it because we are literally
going to terrorize the devil. Love you so much, Lynn
Several months ago, I told you that God was working some new things in my husband, in us. At the time, the Lord impressed upon me to hide these things in my heart until they were settled out.
Today, all these months later, the changes that began in January and February have reached a stall and I have learned a few things. I think it’s time to share with you what I’ve learned.
I remember the moment distinctly. I sat in my office, frozen, fearful to say, “Yes.”
What ensued leading up to this moment was weird filled with conflict and hurt feelings and stress. Our 20th wedding anniversary was approaching and I remember saying something to my husband that went something like this:
“We’ve been married now for 20 years. Honey, I “get it” that you don’t embrace my faith. I really understand. But, after 20 years can you see that it is who I am. I’m not going to change. There comes a point when as a married couple you do things for the other because it’s just the right thing to do for the relationship.”
“I believe it’s time to accept that my faith, going to church, is simply part of who I am. So perhaps, we are at a place where you join me at church because you love ME. Perhaps, it’s what you give to me to show me your love.”
“And think about the places and the things I do for you, just because I love YOU. I choose to be part of your life and interests not because it’s what I really want for me but because I love you and it’s just what married people do. They give of themselves to bring happiness to the other and to show them love.”
Understand this part of the conversation was still a little heated and for the life of me, I can’t remember what the issue was that started it.
My husband turned and left me in my office. I sat staring at my computer screen, actually feeling a bit peaceful about sharing this with my husband and a bit apprehensive at the same time. I turned back to my work and like many of our conversations, I believed we would not discuss it again.
However, to my complete surprise, an hour later my man walked back into my office, which is really just a cubby hole in the hallway. So he walked down the hall and stood by my desk. I looked up. Hesitantly he asked me a question, “Do you want me to go with you to the marriage workshops at church that start this week?”
Let me tell you that for all of my married life I have wanted my husband to attend any kind of marriage workshop with me. Never, I mean never, ever, has he been willing to do so. So to say I was surprised, is the understatement of the century.
What is bizarre in all this is what happened inside of me. FEAR.
After twenty years of asking for his willingness to attend a marriage class and receiving his rejection, I was terrified to say…… YES……
I literally didn’t answer him because I was overwhelmed by all the fears and feelings of rejection that ran over me as I sat dumbfounded in my chair. Let me share some of the thoughts that raced through my head in the few seconds that followed.
If I say yes and he changes his mind, it will crush me. I should just let him off the hook; after all, he really doesn’t want to go. I’m not sure I want to go. Can I handle taking my unbelieving husband to church where many judgmental Christians might make him feel embarrassed? Will I be embarrassed if he says or does the wrong thing?
Sheesh and GOOD GRIEF!!
What a mess.
My friends, even as I type this I feel my anxiety rise. And, there is a lot more to tell in this story but as usual, I’ve gone way too long. Find me Friday as I share with you what happened next and then what happened after that. Oh and one more thing then happened later.
It’s never boring at the Donovan house and it’s absolutely an epic adventure living the believers life.
Have a great week. Humor me and let me know what you think happened. Be blessed, Lynn
It snuck up on me again, that old familiar ache. The one I used to walk around with constantly early on in my mismatched marriage. I thought I’d made peace with it, made the choice to trust God with my husband’s salvation and the future of our marriage. I’d learned to bring that ache, that longing to share my faith with my husband to God and leave it in His hands.
But there it was again just days before Good Friday.
Why now and why so suddenly? Had I stopped trusting God somehow? Had I taken it back from God? Or was God trying to show me or remind me of something?
I did a mental review of the last few weeks and nothing came to mind that might have shaken my foundation of trust in this area. If anything, my marriage and my relationship was better than ever.
And there it was. I’d hit this place of contentment with things as they were. Now there’s nothing wrong with being content in my marriage. Paul even speaks of how he learned to be content in every situation.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. — Philippians 4:11-12
Though Paul referenced his physical needs, his meaning is deeper when he speaks of “every situation.” He trusted God for everything. He was content.
But my contentment made me question whether I was simply at peace with God’s plan for my husband’s impending salvation (I believe, I believe!) or had I started to lose hope in the waiting? Had my prayers lagged and desire waned to keep praying?
Every once in a while I think it’s good to take an inventory of where we are at in our faith. Sometimes life has a way of becoming so busy with the doing and the routines that we “do” without thinking “why.”
That's what I had done recently in my marriage. I’d prayed and asked God to show me the difference. Had I truly given Him that ache in my heart in exchange for His reassurances that no matter what happens, I have Him and I am His? Or, had I become complacent, living for the now with my husband because he is a good and moral man by nature, which makes living in a mismatched marriage a little easier? Had I allowed complacency to make me forget what’s at stake in the end?
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. — 1Timothy 6:6-7
I’m being honest and authentic here because you deserve it, my friends. Our battles don’t always lie in the obvious conflicts and issues we face being in a mismatched marriage. Sometimes the enemy works in the subtle areas we forget to take notice of. Complacency can be his tool as well.
Do I have an answer to my question? No, actually I don’t. I don’t know why the ache returned. I’m begining to think there’s more than one answer to this question because God is never found in just one place or one level. Even the Scriptures are full of many layers and meanings.
Perhaps complacency is one factor. I do believe I have trusted God for my huband’s future and I do believe one day he will come to know Jesus because God gave me this reassurance many years ago. Maybe God allowed me to feel that ache again so that in this gift of reassurance, I didn’t become lazy or forgetful.
I also believe God gives us things like this so that we don’t lose compassion and understanding for others walking difficult paths. So I believe that is part of the ache I felt even more keenly as I sat in church Friday evening.
Because as I sat there, yearning for my sweet guy to know Jesus, not just for me, but to know this amazing and wonderful God who was willing to become man as well God and suffer a most horrible death for my husband, I prayed for him to understand that kind of love.
And I thought of all of you. How we walk this path on a daily basis, some days good, some days bad, but we walk it together as sisters and brothers in Christ.
I left the church that night with a prayer to leave that ache at the cross. I can think of no better place for it. God met my needs in many ways that evening. He met me in my heart, He met me in the nudge He gave to a sweet friend at church to invite me to sit with her instead of alone, and I know He is meeting my pleas and prayers for my husband—my need for this man I love so dearly to know the One who loves him even more.
I know this because God’s Word says so:
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. — Phil 4:19
My dear friends, may God meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. He is faithful and He is good and you can be sure He will do this for you. Leave that ache at the cross and watch how our Great Lord and Savior redeems it.
If you found your way here from the Focus on the Family broadcast, the first thing you heard yesterday was a quote from us.
“Isolation steals our joy.”
That’s why the first chapter of our book is titled, “Know That You’re Not Alone!” Our marriages are under attack by an enemy who wants to keep our unbelieving spouse in his or her unbelief and the best way to do that is to keep you—the believing spouse—discouraged and feeling as if you are completely and utterly alone in this journey.
We want you to know right here and now, that is a lie. If you are here, it is because God has heard your prayers and brought you here to be a part of a community that understands your marriage, your heartache and your struggles without you even saying a word.
We understand because we are living it too. All of us.
When I lived in Europe, I joined a small group of women in my church who were spiritually mismatched like I was. We all spoke different languages except two—our faith in Jesus and our ache over being mismatched. I will never forget those women and our group because it was a turning point that took me from surviving to thriving in my mismatched marriage.
God never intended any of us to walk alone in this life. Though we may try to tell ourselves it’s easier to just stay home, to not go to church, to not share our lives with other believers who don’t understand because they’re married to a believer (trust me, I’ve done this), this only isolates us and keep our light hidden.
We are stronger together.
And no matter how you wound up in your marriage, God has a plan for it. The more I read and search God’s Word, the more evidence I see of this. He has a plan for everything in our lives. Take for instance the story of Joshua and the Gibeonites (Joshua 9 and 10). Joshua walked into this agreement without consulting God first. Yet God wanted him to honor his agreement (God takes covenants very seriously!) and reassured him that the battle to defend these people would be victorious.
“The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.’”
God did not abandon Joshua, and He hasn’t abandoned you.
God moves in our mismatched marriages too. A soul is at stake and we are on the front lines (like missionaries) to fight for our unbelieving loved one. Read 1 Cor. 7:12-17 and be assured that God has placed you where you are for such a time as this.
We are the Esthers in our marriages! Never read the story of Esther in the Bible? She was spiritually mismatched just like you and me. Read her story and be encouraged.
Yesterday morning before the broadcast, God whispered this in my ear as I prayed for those who would be listening to the broadcasts and coming here.
“I can do much with a willing heart.”
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, He does amazing things in our hearts and minds. Do you believe He can do the same in your mismatched marriage if you surrender it to Him, too?
The first steps to thriving in a mismatched marriage start with us, the believing spouse. How about it? Are you willing?
I hope you'll join today at the Focus on the Family Community Forum. Lynn and I will be there from 2-6pm PST (3-7pm MST, 4-8pm CST, 5-9pm EST) to aswer questions and offer encouragement. We want to hear your heart and pray for you my friend. Remember, we are stronger together.
My friends, as I type this post, it’s late Sunday afternoon. I have just returned from my church’s Women’s Retreat. Every year I can’t imagine the retreat could be better than last year. But God never disappoints and this weekend exceeded every expectation.
Healing happened, friendships formed, Jesus was present and God Almighty was worshiped. We tasted a tiny bit of heaven as we spontaneously formed a circle, hand’s clasped and worshiped Saturday night. And as I looked around the room of almost 90 women, I saw The Body of Christ. One day I hope I can describe what happened in that few short moments of time.
My friends, as customary, God chose to keep me humble and the most hilarious and kooky, yet absolutely amazing way. It’s a story I will have to tell here soon about how I became, ahem, Balaam’s Ass. I promise you will laugh just as the entire room laughed… ahem, yep, at me and with me. So stay tuned. I’m too tired today to write it all down.
Retreats are a tricky business. Some are failures in that walls remain up and real growth is stifled. Many find retreats a difficult place to make friends but after several years of refining, my home church, Sunridge has a recipe for a life-changing weekend. I can promise you it’s life-changing and the women there will never forget it. I know I won’t.
Throughout the weekend I sat at a table with seven ladies I had never met before. And within only a few hours, we were fast friends, the Kleenex was flying, tears were brimming and God was about His healing. It was utterly humbling to watch it all happen before my very eyes.
I have brought home with me some fantastic stories to share with you filled with new life lessons and a fresh anointing of hope. I will be sharing more through the weeks ahead of how we can expect Jesus to show up, show off and change everything.
For now, I want to share just a few photos. It may not be of interest to you but humor me and share in my joy……
The joy of the Lord! Love and hugs, Lynn
...as snow starved Southern California girls will do when it snows.