Tag Archive | Bible

Katherine’s Story: An Unfaithful Husband

Oh, it would never happen to me!  When I get married, my husband would never be unfaithful to me.  How sure I was!  And quite boldly I would proclaim that I would never leave my husband except for two things – physical abuse or unfaithfulness.  I would declare, quite frankly, that should either of these things happen, I would be “out the door,” never to return.  But the reality of life often hits hard, and when it hits, a marriage can be shattered.  You sit in that shattered heap of rubble and wonder, “How did I ever end up here?”

My husband and I had been married for several years, and was thought by most, including myself, to be happily married.  My husband’s career was quite successful.  We had beautiful and healthy children.  We had a very nice home, and from all appearances, all was well.  But all was not well.  My husband often stayed late at work.  He went out after work with friends.  A few drinks to relax after a hard week’s work –  what could be the harm?  But that lifestyle and many “few drinks” led to the bed of adultery and to much harm.

I was unaware of how deeply our marriage was in trouble.  I knew that there was a distance between us, but I didn’t know what it was.  I knew that he was gone often, but I tried to be understanding.  I wanted things to be different, but I didn’t know where to begin.  But God knew just where to begin.

The place that He began was not with my husband, but was with me.  He began to teach me, through His Word, how to be a wife to my husband.  He began to teach me how to be a help to my husband.  He began to teach me how to stand in support of my husband.  And after several months into becoming this new wife that the Lord was creating, the Lord did an unexpected thing.  Through a series of circumstances, the Lord removed my husband from his job, causing our financial state to immediately change.  As difficult as this seemed at the time, how graciously the Lord removed my husband from the very surroundings that were pulling him astray.  We were now in each other’s company almost constantly, and the truths that the Lord had taught me about being a wife were truly becoming a part of our marriage.  Though finances were difficult, our marriage seemed stronger than ever.

And then came that fateful day – my husband said that he wanted to talk to me about something.  I knew from the tone of his voice that it must be serious, and as I settled into my place on the sofa, I heard that still, small voice of my Lord say, “Just listen.”  I knew to be quiet and just listen.  My husband began to tell his story –  his story of unfaithfulness to me and to our marriage.  He said he would understand if I wanted to leave, and concluded with, “I truly am sorry.”  Still not having uttered a word, words began to come from the depth of my heart –  words that definitely were not my own words.  My words would have screamed.  My words would have accused.  My words would have lashed out to make him hurt as much as I was hurting.  But instead of hurtful words, I heard myself saying, “The Lord has forgiven me much.  I know that I must forgive you.”  The conversation was ended.  He again reiterated that he was sorry, and he went to work at a small job that he had begun.

The right words had been spoken, and again all seemed well.  But all was not well.  As my husband left our home to go to his job, I was left alone to face the darkest hour that I had ever known.  In the midst of hurt and despair that words cannot describe, I walked into our bedroom, closed the door, and wept, and wept, and wept before the Lord.

As strange as this may sound, there was a voice, though not audible, speaking to me.  The voice was very clearly telling me that my husband had a gun, and that I knew where he kept it, and that I knew that it was loaded, and that it would be so easy to end this whole thing.  As this voice cleverly attempted to pull my thoughts toward death, I so very clearly heard another calm, but authoritative, voice say, “No, she is mine.”  My Lord had spoken.

At that point, I was able to pick myself up from the floor.  I went to get my Bible, sat in the middle of my bed, and said, “Lord, speak to me.  I need to hear from you.”  The Lord God, by His Holy Spirit, walked me verse by verse through forgiveness.  He showed me, in the Scriptures, the truth of the words that I had spoken before but had not understood.  He showed me that truly He had forgiven me much and that I was to forgive my husband in this same way.  He took me, passage by passage, through the epistles where Christians are commanded to forgive.  Step by step, these are the truths (NKJV) through which He had me walk:

I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love … (Ephesians 4:1-2).

… and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … (Ephesians 4:23).

… put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness … (Ephesians 4:24).

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification,  that it may impart grace to the hearers … (Ephesians 4:29).

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you,  with all malice … (Ephesians 4:31).

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you … (Ephesians 4:32).

And again:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above ... (Colossians 3:1).

Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth ...”   (Colossians 3:2).

… put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him ... (Colossians 3:10).

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering … (Colossians 3:12).

… Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against one another; even as Christ forgave you, so must you do ... (Colossians 3:13).

Yes, my Lord had spoken.  I must forgive my husband, just as my Lord had forgiven me.  Then, my Lord brought me to yet another passage:

… so that on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow ... (2 Corinthians 2:7).

Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him … (2 Corinthians 2:8).

… that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things …  (2 Corinthians 2:9).

… I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices … (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

I had no doubt – I had asked to hear from my Lord, and I had heard.  I knew that not only was I to forgive my husband, but I was also to comfort him and to reaffirm my love to him.  This was truly a test.  Would I be obedient in all things?  By a work of God’s grace that I cannot explain, the Lord enabled me to walk in His truth.  Exactly how I was to reaffirm my love to my husband I was not sure, but I was committed to do what my Lord had spoken.  I had regained my composure, had settled my heart, and was prepared to obey my Lord.

The telephone rang.  The person on the other end of the line said that my husband’s grandfather, who had been a special part of my husband’s life, was dying, and if my husband wanted to see him, he needed to come right away.  My husband’s grandfather lived out of town, and of course, no one knew all that had transpired in our home that morning.  I, however, knew exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  I knew that our finances would not allow my husband to make the trip.  We simply had no money.  But God always knows exactly what He is doing.  A Christian friend had sent me some money, some while back.  She said she knew that I wouldn’t want to keep it, but begged me to keep it because she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord had told her to send it.  Because she was so sure, I tucked the money and envelope away, with a prayer.  If the Lord had actually sent the money, I would wait until He showed me its purpose.  I called my husband, delivered the message about his grandfather, and prepared myself for him to come home.  I knew that I was to tell him that I was committed to the Lord, committed to him, and committed to our marriage.  I was also to give him the money from the Lord and offer to go with him to visit his grandfather.  That was the beginning of the working out of the forgiveness that the Lord had worked within.  My husband did see his grandfather before he died, and at the same time, a new season of our life was born.

Although the Lord had done a wonderful work, the reality of life is still real.  Each step of the way, I had to lean hard upon the Lord, listening keenly for His voice.  Nauseating pictures of my husband with another woman would arise in my mind.  I would have to refuse to think upon those things and replace those thoughts with the truth.  My Lord had forgiven that horrible sin, and I must not and would not allow my mind to dwell there.  Time after time, I would have to refuse to allow myself to think on the sin, and force myself to think only upon the Lord’s grace and forgiveness.  Slowly, through days, weeks, and months, the thoughts came less and less.   I had to work through the feelings of rejection, the feelings of insecurity, the impressions of myself as undesirable, and the question of “What was wrong with me?” I also had to work through the times that my husband would turn to me for intimacy when everything within me would want to push him away.  But as always, my blessed Lord would speak truth to my heart, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”  And with a desire to obey my Lord, I would willingly submit.

Do any of those thoughts ever return to my mind?  On very rare occasions they do, but as before, I must steadfastly refuse them.  They are not thoughts from my Lord.  It is the enemy speaking; he is called the accuser, and he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy.  I simply respond with, “It is forgiven.”

There is no way to describe how fully and completely the Lord does a work.  Many years have passed since those hurtful days.  The Lord has truly healed and blessed our marriage.  My husband and I sincerely love one another, and both of us fully enjoy married life.  What the Lord has created is a stronger marriage than we ever possessed before.  How is this possible?  The only answer that I can give is that if you belong to the Lord, He loves you with an  everlasting love.  He will care for you in every situation and circumstance.  The greatest challenge that you will face is to trust Him, to hear Him, and to humbly obey Him.  Don’t refuse the only One who can truly help you!  He truly is the only hope that we have!

I’ve grown so much since those naive days when I thought that this would never happen to me.  None of us know what life holds for us.  And as to the bold assertion that I would never stay with a husband who was unfaithful to me, stay I did.  “Why?” – you may ask.  “You had every right to leave.”  The only answer that I have is that my God is a God of forgiveness, and He tenderly spoke truth to my heart.  These words I will never forget, “Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  Glory to His name!

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,  according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus  throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Julianna’s Story: From Resentment to Respect

Sharing Your Story, one of the components of Wisdom and Kindness, provides a place for women to anonymously share their stories.  This category was developed with the ultimate intent of emphasizing God’s faithfulness, even in the difficulties and struggles of life. Each story is true. Each story is anonymously written.  Each story is written to proclaim the hope that is found in The Lord! May The Lord bless!

Julianna’s Story – From Resentment to Respect

How gracious our Lord is!  How wonderfully forgiving He is!  And how marvelously He grows us as He changes us into His image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).  How many of our ways are so far from His ways!  How many of our thoughts are earthly, fleshly, and worldly!  Yet, in His grace and mercy He conforms us to the image of His Son!  How does one explain this process?  There are not adequate words to describe what the Lord can do in the heart of His children through the truth of His Word.  However, I would like to make a feeble attempt to share a marvelous work that the Lord has done in my heart through the years.  May the Lord use these words to His glory.

Where does this story begin?  … And the wife see that she reverence her husband  (Ephesians 5:33).  A foundational truth for a marriage, as God intends, is found in this one phrase of Scripture – and the wife see that she reverence her husband.  One of a wife’s primary goals is to see that she respects her husband.  This truth I now know somewhat after many years of marriage, but as I look back through my life I see how amazingly the Lord Himself has brought me to this place.  I also sincerely regret how far short I fell from marriage as God intended and how many years that it seemed that I wasted in resentment toward my husband.

As the Lord began to do this work in my heart, He first brought me face to face with this truth:  God calls a woman to respect her husband.  I do not know why this surprises us so much.  God calls children to honor their parents and calls all Christians to respect governmental authorities that are over them.  Why does it seem like such a different command for the wife to respect her husband?  And if God indeed created the woman to be a help and companion for the husband, how necessary respect would be for her to walk in that calling.  In my life, the problem came because I resented so many things that my husband did, and I resented so many of his ways.  In all honesty, from the heart, I guess that I did not think that he was worthy of respect. However, as the Lord brought me to the truth of His Word, I found that we are to respect each and every individual because they are created in the image of God.  Why did God forbid taking another’s life and require the punishment of those who did so?  It was because they were made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6).  Why are we not to speak evil of others and curse men?  It is because they are made in the similitude of God (James 3:9).  So for me, the beginning place of this walk with the Lord was that I must respect my husband as much as I would respect any human being – simply because he was made by God and in the image of God.  In the depth of that truth, as God worked it into my heart, I began to treat my husband differently – much more kindly – as I would treat any other.

The second great step that God enabled me to take came as He began to reveal the importance of understanding headship.  It was God who had created the husband to be the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23).  The man had not elevated himself to this position.  God Himself had ordained the husband as the head as He created the man (1 Timothy 2:12-13).  Understanding this truth humbled my heart to areas of resistance that had been built up.  I could respect my husband for the position that God had given him, in spite of the fact that he did not do things as I thought they should be done.  Much as a child is required to honor a parent because God has so commanded – not because they are perfect parents – but because it is right, I was to respect my husband.  And much as we are required to honor and pray for those in authority over us – not because they are perfect leaders – but because it is right to honor their position, I was to honor and respect my husband for his God-­given position as my husband!  And an amazing thing happened as I began to walk in respect.  Much contention was removed from our home, and my husband began to relate differently to me! The change was not an overnight change, but in time, God did wonderful things in our marriage! How God blesses His truth!

As God continued to work in my heart through the years, another astounding thing happened.  God did remove some sinful ways from my husband’s life, but the more amazing thing that happened was that God totally changed my view of my husband.  Some of the day-to-day things that I resented the most, I actually began to admire.  Why was this so?  It happened as the Lord changed my heart, and I began to view my husband in a completely different way.  Things that I had always seen as negative things now became positive things in our relationship.  Qualities that I had always regarded as weaknesses, I now saw as strengths.  As unbelievable as this may sound, that is exactly what happened.

If I would have described my husband in the early years of our marriage, I would have described him as an unemotional and unsentimental, domineering workaholic.  The implications of all of those qualities are endless.  But now, after so many years of marriage and years of growing in the grace of the Lord, my description of my husband would be dramatically different.  The unemotional, unsentimental husband that I had has become my greatest stability, next to the Lord.  He is not swayed, tossed, and turned by emotion.  He does not respond emotionally to situations as I may be prone.  He is steadfast and strong, and I have come to rely upon him through many difficulties that have come our way.  Because emotion and sentiment do not rule his life, he has been the perfect husband for me time and time again.  What I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness in him is most assuredly a strength!

As for the domineering side of him, how I resisted him!  How often I thought:  Do you always have to be so bossy?  But again, after all of these years, how differently I view him.  How many women complain because their husbands will not lead!  I need never worry because my husband always steps easily into leadership.  The problem is never with his leading.  The problem is always with my following.  What I resisted and resented I now value.  It is easy to come to him with questions about decisions that I must make.  I trust his leadership – into which God has grown him.  Again, I must say that he has been the perfect husband for me.  What I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness in him is most assuredly a strength!

And finally, as for the workaholic to which I felt that I was married, what an entirely different perspective I have been given.  As we age together, I still see his drive toward work-related matters.  This tendency, however, does not stop his job.  He cares for duties around our home very effectively and efficiently.  Once again, I see that I never have to concern myself with repairs and upkeep responsibilities of our home, automobiles, etc.  The work ethic that he possesses is truly a blessing.  He consistently works to provide for our family, and consistently cares for the things with which God has blessed us.  This same work ethic blesses others whose paths we cross.  How many times I have seen him be a blessing to widows, children, the church, and more!  Again, what I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness is most assuredly a strength!

Yes, God did soften those qualities in my husband to make them strengths, but much more dramatically, He softened my heart as He gave me a new view of my husband.  I suppose that the most humbling thing that occurred was when I realized that the qualities that I had resisted and resented the most were the qualities that were contrary to my flesh!  Why did I resent his unemotional and unsentimental nature?  Because I was emotional and sentimental!  Why did I resent and resist his domineering way?  Because I wanted to remain independently selfish!  Why did I resent and resist his work ethic?  Because, by nature, I was plagued with procrastination and laziness!  Can you see how what I viewed as weaknesses in him actually conflicted with my own weaknesses?  Once again, I saw much more completely – the problem always arises in our own human heart!  And it was that heart that the Lord had to change!  And marvelously change it, He did!

I would like to say in closing that your husband will probably not match the description of mine.  God creates each individual uniquely.  However, your husband will possess qualities that you, in your flesh, will disrespect.  Ask the Lord to show you how He intends for that very weakness to be a strength.  Ask the Lord to reveal how your own weaknesses conflict with what you deem as weaknesses in your husband.  Ask the Lord to give you a heart to be obedient to His Word, no matter the circumstances of your life.  And ask the Lord to change your heart from a heart of resentment to a heart of respect.  You will forever be glad that you did!

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Dawning Light © 2004.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Submission: And the Dinosaur Called Headship

I hope that this title does not offend you.  I thought for some time about what to name this post, and dinosaur continually came to mind.  For years, I taught kindergarten, and one of the characteristics that I love about young children is the way that they make up their own definitions to explain what is in their little minds.

So in kindergarten style, here is my own definition.  Dinosaur: something that lived long ago, but is now extinct.  That was my perception of headship.

When I began on my journey into submission, I came face to face with the concept of headship.  What was this headship thing all about? It honestly seemed like a foreign language to me.  I didn’t understand it, and I couldn’t decipher it at all.  But something inside of me pressed me to understand.  What was it that drove me to understand?

What I had found as I studied submission was that submission and headship were inseparably linked.  Why do I say that?  It is because in Ephesians 5:22-23 the Scripture says:  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife.  What the Scripture was saying is that we are to submit to our own husband because he is the head. If I was supposed to submit to my husband because he is my head, then I knew I had to understand this truth.

The first thing that I did was to look at marriages of those around me.  I watched all the marriages that I could – young and old. I couldn’t observe anything that looked like headship to me. Where else could I look, I wondered?

I knew there was a parallel drawn in the Scriptures between Christ and the church and the husband and the wife, so I decided to look at churches and see how they were subject to Christ as their head.  Then maybe I would understand a little better. Was it just me, or was I missing something?  It didn’t seem that many of the churches that I was familiar with exemplified headship and submission.

Then, I went to the place that I should have gone in the first place.  I bowed my heart in prayer and asked the Lord to help me understand His Word.  Lord, I can’t see this truth in our culture and society.  I can’t see this truth in the marriages surrounding me.  And I can’t even see this truth in the churches that I know. Help me, Lord.  It is Your Word.  The command that You give me is to submit, and the reason that You give is that my husband is my head.  Please help me understand, straight from Your Word.

I got my Bible and my concordance and began to study.  The questions before me were: What Scriptures shed light on the relationship between Christ and the church regarding headship? And how is that relationship an example for me? 

I read and studied for some while, but quite honestly, I was not prepared for the answer that I found.  There were two specific verses that impacted me in a way that words cannot describe.  My eyes were opened. I saw truths that I had never seen.  How I was humbled!  I had missed these truths for all of my married life. What I learned that day was:  And He is the head of the body, the church: the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

For Christ and the church, headship meant that Christ was to have preeminence. Applying this truth to the husband as the head, I could see that the husband was to have preeminence.  Preeminence means: first place.

Yikes! I thought. First place?  That meant that David was to have first place. I had to stop and take a deep breath.  I didn’t think that David had really ever had first place.  In the early years of my marriage, I was pretty sure that my own self had been in first place.  After our son was born, I knew that he had been in first place.  Lord, this is going to take a lot of work.  I couldn’t get away from the connection.  To the church, the headship of Christ meant that He was to be preeminent.  In the marriage, headship meant that David was to have first place.  Now maybe you can understand why I called headship a dinosaur.  Surely, this truth no longer exists today.

But this Scripture was not the only one that jolted me.  Here came the second one: And you are complete in Him, which is the head … Colossians 2:10.   What was the relationship?  The church was complete in the Head.  And, therefore, in a marriage the wife is complete in her husband (her head).  Yikes, again!!  Surely, this cannot be so!  Today, a wife finds completion in anything and everything besides her husband.  I fully understand that a woman can only find spiritual completion in The Lord Himself, but in the physical life that a wife lives, it is in being a wife to her own husband where she will find fulfillment.  Without a doubt, this truth, too, is surely extinct. Yes, certainly, headship is a dinosaur!

One more truth staggered me.  In Biblical circles, I had heard that the husband is the head of the home, and I do not disagree.  The man is the father, and he is the husband, therefore, he is the head of the home.  But look very closely at the Scriptures: For the husband is the head of the wife!!!!  Wait! Wait! Wait!  I could see that our son needed his dad to be the head.  And I wanted David to lead, to take care of problems, to make sure that we had adequate income, etc., but the Scriptures clearly said that he is the head of the wife. Now, that is going a little too far!  But if we understand the church as the bride of Christ, then indeed, He is the head of the wife!  My thoughts were reeling!  Maybe this is the way that things were in days gone by, but we are liberated now, right?  The head of me?  Dinosaur again.  Never to return, I’m sure!

But then there came some type of freedom, to which I return often, because it truly “liberated” me.  It was here, in this passage on headship in Ephesians 5 and in the headship passage in 1 Corinthians 11, that I realized that both passages return to the creation account in Genesis BEFORE the fall. As the Apostle Paul expounds the truth of headship, he returns to God’s perfect creation!  Again, I say that God’s ways are so much higher than our ways that we can never understand nor attain to them, but by His marvelous grace.

May I fast forward a few years? I began with baby steps to walk in these truths that The Lord had taught me.  Arranging my life around David, attempting to put him in first place, serving alongside of him as a help and companion, I found a fulfillment such as I had never known!  It was truth.  It was truth, indeed!  Make no mistake, I fail and falter regularly.  I get distracted with many “good” things outside of my home, but I have never found a greater satisfaction than when I walk in the truths of headship and submission.  It is there where I find rest, peace, contentment, and fulfillment.

And guess what else I discovered?  Though they are few, there are some other Christian women who seek to put their husbands in first place, submit themselves to their own husbands, and willingly serve as a help meet for them.

I have decided that headship is not a dinosaur after all.  I will agree that it is probably on the Endangered Species list, but no, it is not extinct!  Truth is still alive!  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever!

Nancy’s Story: Becoming a Help Meet

 

Help Meet“It’s hard to find good help!”  Why did my husband continually make that sarcastic statement?  And even more pressing, why did it irritate me so?  I helped him all the time.  I at least tried, and I certainly helped him more than he ever helped me.  Yet the comment would still come, and the irritation persisted.  Finally, at the point of total frustration, I took the comment before the Lord in prayer.  Lord, why does he consistently say that it is hard to find good help?  What is it that I need to know?  Those questions were the beginning of a journey with the Lord that has taken me to difficult and yet wonderful places – a journey that I have struggled through, yet a journey that I cherish deeply.

As I took my frustrations and struggling questions before the Lord, He gently began to open some truths to me that have changed my life forever.  First of all, the Lord showed me that I truly was not a very good help to my husband.  In his own way, my husband was asking for me to be a better help, but because of the tone in which he made his comments, I continually ignored and resisted his statement.  Within my mind, I actually argued against his persistent comment.

But in His gracious way, the Lord was beginning to teach me how to be a help to my husband.  How was I going to learn to be a good help?  Quite honestly, did I even want to?  The Lord probed very deeply within my heart, until I saw my selfishness and my self-determined way.  I knew the verse:  It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.  I knew that was the Lord’s purpose in creating a woman, and I thought that I wanted to be that kind of wife.  However, when it came to the place of living it out, I quietly resisted those truths.  Even though I said that I wanted God’s ways, in my heart I found that I really wanted my own way.  Sometimes I went through the outward motions of trying to help my husband, but in my heart I wanted to be doing something else.  There certainly was no enjoyment found in setting aside the things that I wanted, or thought I needed to be doing.  Being a help to him so often seemed like drudgery.  But my eyes were being opened.  I began to see that my husband was right.  I was not a good help to him.  I also began to see that it would take the Lord to give me a true desire, and it would take Him to teach me how to be a good help.  I had never heard anyone address the “hows” of being a help meet for your husband.  They always seemed to just say that you should be one.  I certainly had not had a college course entitled “Help Meet 101.”  No, it was going to take the Lord to teach me what He wanted me to be.

One by one, little by little, here a little, there a little, the Lord put some very practical truths into my life.  The first thing that He taught me was to listen to the things that my husband was saying.  He began to show me that if I would set aside “how” my husband spoke to me, and just listen to “what” he said, I would learn exactly how to be a help to this man.  Because I would always get caught in the emotion of “how” he spoke to me, my mind never really heard “what” he was saying.  And sure enough, as I learned to set aside the sarcasm, belittling tones, even anger, at times, I could hear – really hear – what my husband wanted (and needed).  Sometimes I could just ignore the tones; sometimes I would have to forgive them before I could proceed to listen to the words alone.  I could then take “what” he had said, and the Lord would bring to my mind some very specific ways that I could change my ways or better help him.  Walking in this, time and time again, I became, by the Lord’s grace, a much better help to my husband.  And the joy came, not so much from my husband, but in knowing that this was pleasing to my Lord.

The second major truth that the Lord opened my eyes to see was that I was to be this help to my own husband.  That was why I must hear him.  Being the wife of this man – and this man alone –  would look quite different than being the wife of a different man.  My focus was always to be on what this man needed in a helpmate.  My eyes were opened very clearly to this truth in the area of cooking.  My husband worked hard each day, ate a sandwich at lunch, and expected a rather large, hot meal for supper.  I had a friend whose husband ate business lunches every day, and never wanted a big meal for supper.  Though I quietly wished that my husband, too, would want a small, simple meal, I came to see how important it was to cook for my husband if I was to be a true help to my own husband.  Now, in order to actually follow through in this truth, it meant that several changes would have to take place in my schedule and my life.  But over time, I was privileged to see the delight in my husband knowing that a special meal was prepared for him each evening.  The truth of being a help to my own husband played itself out in many ways.  There was not a certain formula that I could follow to be a help for this man.  I would have to listen to the things that he was saying, take them to the Lord in prayer, walk in those things that the Lord showed me, and over time, watch the confidence that was being built in my husband in the help that I was becoming.  Pure delight would be on his face if there was something that he had just mentioned in conversation that we needed to do in the future, and I took care of it.  What a help I became!

As I was learning to really listen to the things that my husband was saying, I was also learning to watch him.  If I would step back and watch what he was doing for just a few moments, I could always see ways that I could step up alongside of him and assist him.  Perhaps I could bring him something or hold something for him.  It was, however, important that I didn’t try to take over.  I would just quietly help.  Interestingly, by watching him, I learned to anticipate what he would need next.  We also came to really enjoy one another’s company as we worked on his little projects together.  Perhaps one of the most important things that I learned about helping him with his projects was to set aside the things that I had wanted to do.  I wouldn’t even let my mind think on those things while I was helping him.  Always, if I allowed my mind to think on “my” things, I would be distracted and impatient and could not restfully enjoy helping him.  I began to learn how to clear my schedule, take care of the necessary things ahead of time, and set the other things aside so that I could help him without distraction.  Can you believe my surprise and delight when, one day, he declared that he would rather me help him than anyone else, even other men!  What a long way we had come from that sarcastic statement of “It’s hard to find good help.”

I continued to grow.  I was still learning to listen. I was still learning to watch.  Now I began to learn to anticipate what he would need.  Many times I would already know the things that he would need or desire.  It made being a help so much easier.  I could anticipate many things before he even spoke them.  Of course, there were the daily things.  I knew the clothes that he would need for work, the kind of lunch he liked packed, the type of supper he would desire.  But there were also the companionship things that I could anticipate –  what he might like to do to relax, how I could encourage or support him, how I could enrich our times alone together.  What was slowly happening was that I was ordering my life around his, and the results were amazing.

Another lesson that I learned – the hard way –  was that if I truly wanted to be a help to my husband, that had to be the priority of my life.  What things that he asked me to do, I learned to do first.  Many times I would have my list of things to do, and I may not get to those things that he had asked me to do.  I was, then, found either scampering around to get them done or making excuses as to why they were not done.  The Lord had been repeatedly reminding my heart to do those things first, but I didn’t see how it would do any harm when I did them, as long as they were done.  One day the Lord cemented the truth deep within my heart.  My husband had an important meeting and had asked me to do the simple task of making copies for his meeting.  The library was only a block away, so the task was quite an easy one.  The Lord prompted me many times to go make the copies.  I kept putting it off.  A serious rain storm set in, and I waited until later in the day.  When all of that was past, I hurried to the library to make the copies.  I would still have plenty of time.  When I got to the library, the copy machine was broken.  Quickly, I regrouped.  I would go to the post office to make the copies.  When I got there, I found that copy machine also broken.  In disbelief, I hurried to a copy place, made the copies, and returned home.  To my dismay, my husband had come home a little early, went to the meeting without his copies, and was very unhappy with me.  I was so confused.  I had every intention of doing those things that my husband had asked me to do.  It was just all of the circumstances that had hindered me from completing the task.  When I took all of those situations and circumstances back before the Lord, I heard that still small voice say, “If you had done it first, there would have been no problem.”  Though I still need reminding, I learned that day to make helping my husband be the priority of each day.

Still another lesson that I was to learn was to be available to him at all times.  Availability was the key that opened yet another door.  I began to understand that I must not be so busy with my responsibilities that I would be unavailable when he needed me.  Maybe he would come through the house to ask me to give him a hand, or perhaps he would call from work with an errand he wanted me to do.  Was I fully available to him?  Often I found myself telling him why I couldn’t do what he needed.  Rather than see these as conflicting things, I learned to trust the Lord with those circumstances of life.  I would pray for Him to control those “interruptions,” but when they came, I would see them as from the Lord’s hand.  It made it so much easier to give my husband the help for which he had asked.

In all of these things, I learned that there were two important factors involved in truly being a help to my husband.  The first was that I must think according to truth.  I must see my husband in the light of the Word of God.  I must also see my place alongside of him in the light of the Word of God.

The second factor that made all the difference was how my heart had been prepared before the Lord.  Had I taken time that morning to spend time with the Lord?  Had I renewed my mind regarding what the Lord says to wives about their husbands?  Was I prepared, in my heart, for another day of service to my Lord in the place where He had placed me?  If so, I could proceed through the day in a way that honored the Lord.  However, if I had failed to do those things, I began the day with my own thoughts, my own ways, and my own list of things to do for that day.  Those days produced a totally different result.

There was one final thing that proved to be a great blessing to me.  If I would stop from the busyness of life for ten or fifteen minutes before my husband came home, to once again renew my mind, I would be refreshed and eager to see him, looking for ways that I could serve him – ways that I might encourage him – ways that he might be refreshed – ways that I could help him.  But, once again, if I failed to do that, many times he would seem like a bother as he interrupted the many things that I felt I had to do.

“It’s hard to find good help!”  Occasionally I will still hear those words come from my husband’s lips.  But the interesting thing is that they are never directed at me.  They may be spoken about someone working on his job, someone in a department store, or someone in the auto parts store, but never are they spoken about me.  More often than not, I hear, “Thanks for helping me.  I appreciate your help.”  Imagine how my heart smiles!

It has been a long journey, and I continue to learn things from day to day.  I still learn to listen – I still learn to watch – I still learn to anticipate – I still learn to keep my own husband as the priority – I still learn to be available to him – I still learn to renew my mind and to prepare my heart daily. As the Apostle Paul so aptly stated: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12).  God created me to be a help meet for my husband.  I pray that I may truly live the life for which He created me.

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Submission: A Journey of the Heart

My husband and I had taken some time away, just for the two of us. We had ventured out on a camping trip, which was both refreshing and relaxing. Having more quiet time than usual gave me time to reflect on so many things.

We had finished sitting outside, and my husband began to fold up the camp chairs to insert them into the sleeves in which they are stored. He was having trouble inserting one of the chairs so, without giving it any thought, I reached over and held the sleeve open, and the chair slipped right in. Then together, we did the second chair.

The thought entered my mind, “That’s it!” It wasn’t my thought. I thought, “What’s it?” Then came, “That’s submission.” Those words really made no sense to me. That wasn’t submission, I thought. I just reached over to help him. But I had to stop to think – Was that submission? There had been no discussion, no requests, no disagreement. I just did what seemed like “second nature”.

But in giving the situation more thought, I could see it. I had just moved alongside my husband and quietly helped him accomplish his goal. Hmmm …. I thought … That’s way too simplistic! But that single incident caused me to embark upon a journey in my mind of the many truths that The Lord has taught me over the last thirty years to where (at times) submission has become “second nature”. But, oh my, has it ever been a journey – a long journey. This journey of submission has been filled with both victories and failures, and with both delight and discouragement.

I invite you to join me on this journey, one which has changed my marriage and changed my life. It is one which I would never trade, even at the times yet when my flesh would rise up in quiet resistance. I know what The Lord has worked into my heart, and truly, submission is a matter of the heart. I much desire for that work to be completed in me.

Where did this long journey begin? Would you believe that it was at that same kitchen table which I have mentioned before? There, with all my Scriptures spread out before me, I discovered a very simple, but profound truth. What I found, by comparing scripture with scripture, was that Wives, be subject to your own husbands was the single most frequent command in the Bible that was given specifically to women. Look to see what I discovered:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto The Lord. Ephesians 5:22

Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:24

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in The Lord. Colossians 3:18

Older women were instructed to encourage the younger women to … be obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:5 (Note: the word translated as obedient is the same word that is translated as submission or subjection in other verses.)

Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (behavior) of the wives. 1 Peter 3:1

Can you see the same instruction consistently given over and over again?

Of course, I had heard of submission before, but this time I observed several things. First, this was God that was speaking through His Word, and He continually said the same thing. Next, I realized that this truth was written in the imperative – it was a command! It really was not optional.

I knew that I would have to understand what God was really saying to wives. I asked Him to show me His ways. What I learned, over the course of the next few weeks, was that Biblical submission is not at all what people try to make it.

Importantly, we must understand that the unbeliever cannot and will not walk in this truth. This truth was written to Christian wives. As with any other directive given to Christians, it is all about reflecting The Lord as He is, as we walk in humility and love. Biblical submission is one of the primary ways that a Christian wife will honor her Lord, because it is He who instructs her to do so.

Also, I learned that there is no harshness nor rigidity found in submission. The wife is the one who takes this action. Wives, submit yourselves … The husband is nowhere instructed to “force” this submission. The wife is to willingly submit because it is right in The Lord. I know that we do not see this anywhere in the world nor in our culture today, but indeed, it is according to the truth of the Word of God.

Next, I found that everywhere this directive is given, there is only one person named to whom this command refers. Wives are instructed to submit themselves to their own husband – not to any other man, only to their own husband. That sounds easy enough, right? Just submit to one man? But here is right where the enemy will fight us. We may be able to submit to our pastor, or to our boss, or to someone in a position of authority. But to our own husband – you have got to be kidding! You just don’t know what he is like! So to the single most frequent command to the wife, we find some reason to refuse! How tragic! And how disobedient!

Now, I no longer had room to argue. I knew what God was requiring, but I still needed to understand the meaning of the word submit. I went to a Bible dictionary and found that the word was actually a military term that meant to be arranged under. Ok, I could understand the application. I was to arrange my life under and around my husband – around his life, around his direction. We were to be on the same team, and I was to be on his side.

It was then that the “light bulb came on”. This was the exact truth that I had found when I had studied being a “help” in Genesis. For me to be the kind of help that I needed to be, I had to be with my husband, for him, on his side, arranging my life around his, and under his authority and direction. Oh, the consistency of Scripture! And again, I was reminded that this was God’s plan and design BEFORE the fall. It was goodness, all goodness.

I also was absolutely amazed to understand that this one truth of submission would bring me out from under the curse, concerning my relationship with my husband, and back into the joy for which the Lord had created the woman – BEFORE the fall. Oh, how I desired to walk there! But I knew it would take the Lord to teach my heart. As I said, submission is a journey of the heart. It is not an external rule imposed on the Christian wife. It is a high and holy calling, to which, through my study, The Lord had planted a desire to learn to walk therein!

Lord, nothing about my fallen nature understands or even wants to understand. But the precious Spirit that you have placed within me calls me to a place higher than I have ever been! Help me, teach me, show me, grow me. I want to step into this journey. Change me. Change my marriage. Let me bring glory to you!

What truth had I been reminded of when I had simply helped my husband fold up those chairs? It was my Lord who had taught me through the years: Wives (that was me) submit yourselves (arrange my life under and around) my own husband (David). It had all seemed way too simplistic when we were folding those chairs. But really, it is a simple truth. Thank you, Lord, for truth! Please help me live in obedience, in a way that pleases you!

The Light Still Shines!

I gently pushed open the hospital door, knowing that things were not going well. I carefully entered, as quietly as I could. All was dark and still, except for the small glimmer of light that filtered through the space where the bathroom door was slightly ajar.  I could see her there, just sitting in solitude, reading her Bible.  I thought to myself, “What is the deal? Why is she sitting alone reading her Bible at a time like this?  I just don’t get it!” But that was the pattern of her life. How many times as a child had I found her alone in her room reading that Bible!

I turned my attention toward the hospital bed where the frail fourteen-year-old lay.  He should be out running and playing or riding bikes or fishing like other young boys, but here he lay, resting quietly at the moment.  His mom had closed the blinds, turned out the lights, and retreated to the only place of solitude that she could find, where she could both read and keep an attentive ear to her precious son. During his waking hours, he was in extreme pain and discomfort so, as he slept, she lovingly kept any and all from unintentionally disturbing him.  She had faithfully cared for him through the years, and now, she would continue to love, nurture, wait, pray, and trust as the long and hard battle against leukemia would come to an end.

We buried my little brother a few days later.  That little guy had literally been my heart – and my closest side-kick. Many special memories would always remain.  But when I think back on those days from over thirty years ago, that vivid memory of my mother reading her Bible, enclosed in the walls of that tiny hospital bathroom, will be forever etched in my mind.

Years passed, and through the course of time, I, too became a Christian. And, yes, I, too, began to read my Bible.  But I was plagued with doubts and questions. Was the Bible indeed true? Could it all be believed?  Why was it so hard for me just to, by faith, accept it all as true?

Then, one day my answer came. I was doing a study on what the Bible actually declares about itself, and I made the most amazing discovery.  I found that the most unbelievable accounts in the Bible, those that are so often mocked and scoffed at, and those which are so often debated, were used by Jesus in His teachings.  I was intrigued! I followed them through one by one. I studied and pondered how He made references to the Biblical truths of old and used them to explain and expound many of His teachings!

Many do not believe in the Biblical account of Creation. but Jesus did! (Matthew 19, Mark 10)

Many do not believe in a literal flood, but Jesus did! (Matthew 24:37-39)

Many do not believe in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Jesus did! (Luke 17:28-30)

Many do not believe that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, but Jesus did! (Luke 17:32)

And many do not believe that Jonah really remained alive in the belly of the big fish for three days and three nights, but Jesus did! (Matthew 12:40)

These were the passages that made such an impact on me, but there were more. I also saw how he used these Old Testament truths to teach critical doctrines of the faith.  He used the story of Jonah to exemplify His resurrection. He used the days of Noah and Lot to explain what the world would be like at His second coming. He took some of the most controversial of Scriptures to explain truth.  Truly, He believed the Scriptures, and He believed all of it!  There is no way to explain what happened in the depths of my heart!  It was settled!  If it was good enough for my Lord, it was good enough for me! It was true! It was ALL true!  Within my heart, I KNEW it was true!

Rested, grounded, settled, I continued my studies.  I found the same was true of the apostles.  Peter, James, Jude, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews would go back and reference the Old Testament scriptures. Indeed, they too, believed!  I knew of a certainty that the Bible was true!  I knew that there I could find truth!  I now knew that in His Word, I could hear Him! And my life would be forever changed!

I would go to His Word to find answers to my questions! I would go there for comfort! I would go there for encouragement! Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, in the good times and, most assuredly, in the bad, I could be found in some quiet place reading my Bible.

I think back thirty years ago. In my mind, I re-enter that hospital room. I see my mom in that little hospital bathroom reading her Bible!  She didn’t even know I was looking!  “Oh, mom!  I get it! I understand!”  All I can think is, “I love you, Mom!  Thank you for showing me the way!” – when you didn’t even know I was looking!

And for those of you who may still be waiting on your own children – Don’t give up!  Let your light continue to shine!  Even when you are not aware, your children ARE watching!  You never know what God may do when you do not even know that they are looking!

It Is Not Good

I returned to my kitchen table, the place where I so often studied, with a question on my mind. I was trying to determine why the Creation account of Genesis was so important. In so many passages in the Bible, when discussing women and marriage, that is the truth that was referenced. So as the question pressed on my mind, I bowed my head to ask The Lord to show me the truths that I needed to see. I opened my Bible, and began to read.

It always brought awe into my heart to think that God merely spoke and the Creation stood forth. Psalms 33:9 states: For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.  What a demonstration that He is the Almighty and All-Wise God!

Now I would continue with my examination of this amazing Creation.  As I read through Genesis, I found a repeated pattern.  God created and then looked upon His Creation and made a declaration as to the goodness of the Creation.

  • Day 1:  And God saw the light, that it was good.
  • Day 2 and 3:  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good. And the Earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
  • Day 4:  Speaking of the sun and moon and stars:  And God saw that it was good.
  • Day 5:  Speaking of the  sea creatures and the winged fowl:  And God saw that it was good.
  • Day 6:  Speaking of the animals on the earth:  And God saw that it was good.

Over and over again, God declared that His Creation was good. But for the first time in the Scriptures, God declared that something was not good.

And The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.  Genesis 2:18

There it was – the thing that was not good. It was not good that the man should be alone, and immediately God revealed the solution. He would make a help for the man.

I sat there and pondered the truth.  It is not good for the man to be alone. It is not good for the man to be alone. Then in my mind, my husband’s name was written above that verse. It is not good that “David” should be alone.

Wait! I had one of the most independent and self-sufficient husbands ever! I had even thought, at times, that he could have been one of those mountain men of old. He could have lived alone forever. Wouldn’t have bothered him!

But that wasn’t what the Word of God seemed to be saying.  It is not good that the man should be alone!  There was no indication that the man had realized it was not good, and he certainly had not asked for a help.  No, it was God that said that it was not good for the man to be alone.

I thought some more.  I felt sure that David did not realize that this truth applied to him, but the Word of God was clear – It is not good that the man should be alone!

But that thought was not what impacted me so strongly.  What rang through my heart was:  I will make him a help meet for him!  God was the One who planned for the woman. God was the One who designed the woman. God was the One who created and formed her with one specific purpose in mind – to be a help to that man. The woman was not planned for, designed, nor created by man, but by God Himself.

I could see that being a woman was a special creation – a special creation with a specific purpose.  As surely as the light, the waters, the earth, the plants, the sun, moon, and stars, and all the animals had a purpose, so, too, did the man have a specific purpose, and so, too, did the woman have a specific God-created purpose!

And then, the staggering and startling realization – it was God that had created me to be a woman.  And it was God who had created me to be a help to David. I stopped in the tracks of my mind. God had very individually created me to be a wife to David.  And, at that moment, God called me in a very deep way to give my life to that for which I had been created – to give my life to being a wife to David.

Tears began to flow! How had I missed this?  Yes,  David and I lived in a compatible relationship, but this call was so much more.  My life had been so much about me, and, at times, even about ME being a good wife.  But this was about God! This was about David! I had to get my eyes off of me! I had to look at David in a whole new way!  God had created me especially for my husband!

Humbled, and with tears, I knew God would have to teach me. Truly, His ways are so much higher than mine!  Teach me, Lord. That is all I knew to say!  I had started out with a question, but how personal had been the answer.