Tag Archive | marriage

You Can Be a Crown

Crown to Her HusbandHave you ever taken time to just meditate on a single verse of Scripture?  One morning, as I sat giving thought to a scripture, the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart.  A simple sequence of questions and answers brought my thoughts – and heart – to a very special place.

I had been studying the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, with whom we are so familiar.  I was reminded that the word virtuous meant strong. The virtuous woman is a strong woman, a woman that is strong in The Lord. But my thoughts were then taken to another verse:

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:

but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 12:4

I have to admit that I didn’t really understand the significance of the verse.  As I prayed, I asked The Lord to help me better understand.  Then, as I continued to think on the verse these questions – and answers – flooded my mind:

What is the result of being a strong woman?  …   She becomes a crown to her husband.

What was the purpose of a crown?   …   To exalt one to a position of honor.

What was true of the husband of the Proverbs 31 woman?   …   Her husband was known in the gates.

I could see that this verse was saying that a strong wife would exalt her husband.  I knew that it takes humility to exalt another above oneself, but I could feel The Lord calling me to do exactly that.  I was to exalt my husband to the position for which The Lord had created him. As I pondered the implications of this truth, my attention was drawn to the contrasting wife.

How was the wife described who is the opposite of this virtuous wife?   …  She makes ashamed and is as rottenness in his bones.

What does it mean to make ashamed?   …  Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: bringing reproach; degrading a person in the estimation of others

Did I exalt my husband or did I degrade him?

And what happened if I degraded him?   …   I would be as rottenness in his bones.

What does rottenness do?   …   It causes slow, often unseen decay.

Where does this rottenness occur?   …   In his bones.

What is the purpose of bones to our body?   …   Unseen strength and support.

What was the woman made from?   …  From the bone of the man.

Could it be that the wife is to be strength and support to her husband as she exalts him rather than a cause of inner decay within him?

I knew that the Lord Himself is to be a man’s source of strength, but I could also recall that The Lord made the wife especially as a help for him.

I could see that by my actions and by my words, I would either exalt and honor my husband or I would inwardly destroy him.  By what I said to him and about him, I would either build him up or tear him down.

Then I remembered that virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.  The heart of her husband had confidence in her because she did him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.

I thought some more.  I actually could be a crown to my husband.  I knew I would need the Lord’s help.  But somewhere in my heart, I simply heard:  You can be a crown!

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:  but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.          Proverbs 12:4

No More Tug-o-War

imageCan you remember playing the game tug-o-war as a child? One player would get on one end of the rope, and the other would get on the other end.  Then each would pull as hard as he could to cause the other to come over to his side.  Remember?

Unfortunately, this simple game depicts so many marriages today. But, what is God’s intent for a marriage?  Does He intend for a husband and wife to pull against one another throughout a lifetime of marriage?  Are there Biblical answers that can help us? How can we find a solution?

When I think back before my husband and I got married, I lived independently.  I taught kindergarten, had my own apartment, had my own vehicle, paid all my own bills, and lived completely independently.  I had my own schedule, my own way of doing things, my own opinions, and lived as I liked.  Although we had dates, which we thoroughly enjoyed, basically I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.  What a rude awakening when we got married!

I now had another person living in the house with me.  Subconsciously, what I expected was for him to fit into my schedule.  Although I loved being married, I wanted him to adapt to my life and my schedule.  However, it wasn’t long before a problem became evident.  My precious husband had his own lifestyle, schedule, opinions, and way of doing things.  That is when the tug-o-war began.

My husband tried to pull me his way, and I tried to pull him mine.  The tug-o-war continued for years.  I wanted him to be like me.  I pulled; he pulled.  I pulled; he pulled.  I whined, and he got angry.  Neither of us really made much progress, and many conflicts arose.  Would we forever live in this tug-o-war?

It was The Lord who turned our marriage around.  Although many truths of God’s Word worked together to change my heart, and thus, my life, one of the truly beneficial truths that I learned was that of becoming “one flesh” with my husband.

These were the verses that The Lord used to totally change our marriage:

And the rib, which The Lord God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her to the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:  she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh.   Genesis 2:22-24

Jesus answered and said unto them,  Have ye not read, that He which made them in the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife:  and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.     Matthew 19:4-6

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And the twain shall be one flesh, so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.   Mark 10:6-8

I discovered that God created the man and woman to live as one flesh.  When the man and the woman married, God Himself did an unseen work.  It was God Who joined them together as one.  In Jesus’ teachings, He explicitly declared that God’s plan from the beginning had never changed, and for the married couple, they were no longer two, but they were now one!  They were one because God had joined them as one!  Oh my, how clearly I saw my dilemma. My husband and I were still living as two.  Obviously, we wanted to live as one.  I wanted him to live as I lived.  He wanted me to live as he lived. And the only thing that was produced was a tug-o-war.

Then came the difficult truth to understand and grasp. In the teaching on headship in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul referred to the same truth as he quoted Genesis 2:

For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.    Ephesians 5:30-32

He explained that this was a great mystery, which really means that it is a hidden truth that is only revealed by God.  What Paul showed us was that the woman was created from the man’s rib, as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  He further expounded on this mystery as he compared the man and his wife to Christ and the church.  The church is called members of his body, flesh of his flesh and bone of His bones.

Oh no, I was beginning to see that Christ is the head of the church, and we are as members of His body, one flesh with Him!  What did that mean for me?  That meant that as the wife, my husband was the head, and I was a part of his body!  Yes, this is a great mystery!  When God was creating the man and the woman, He had been creating a picture of Christ and the church, a marvelous mystery to be revealed thousands of years later.  Likewise, a husband and wife can now look at the relationship of Christ and the church as a picture of how, together, their marriage can reflect Christ to the world.  This is a great mystery, indeed!

But what did this “theological” mystery mean in my simple life?  It meant that my husband is my head, and I am a member of him.  Yes, we were to be one flesh, but it was me who was to be one flesh with him.  Make no mistake, God gives the perfect balance to this truth, but I learned that day to stop trying to pull my husband over to my ways. I saw that I needed to move over to his side.  I needed to start pulling with him, and not against him.

I now saw that if I stopped pulling against him, there would no longer be a tug-o-war.  Very quietly and very gently, without saying one word to my husband, I laid down the rope.  No more tug-o-war.  No longer two, but one flesh.  Thank you, Lord, for one flesh!

Her Husband’s Heart

image

What do you suppose you would find if you looked inside your husband’s heart – not in his physical heart, but in his spiritual heart?  You may immediately think of numerous answers to that question – some of those things perhaps very good and other things perhaps not so good.  But the matter of consideration for the wife is what is in her husband’s heart concerning her.

You may think that it is impossible to know what is in someone’s heart – but not so!  The Scriptures teach that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matthew 12:34).  It is by listening – truly listening – to what our husbands say that we can actually know what is in their hearts.

The Proverbs 31 wife is a wonderful example to all Christian wives:  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.  What kind of trust does this husband have for his wife?  And what is it that causes this type of trust to develop?

Understanding the meaning of the phrase safely trust will prove helpful.  This phrase is actually one word in the Hebrew, but was translated as two words in English to emphasize the level of trust that this husband feels toward his wife.

Safely trusts means:  to attach oneself to; to be confident in; to be secure in.  The basic meaning is:  to rely upon.  This Proverbs 31 wife is indeed trustworthy.

It is important to note that this level of trust does not happen instantaneously.  It is a firm, solid trust that develops over time, as the wife has proved constant in her attitudes and actions toward the husband.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12).  She is there faithfully being a help meet for her husband (Genesis 2:18).  It is through this constant companionship and support that a deep level of trust develops day by day by day.  No matter what the husband may have to face in the world or who may prove untrustworthy in his day-to-day interactions, the wife is there by his side, though often unseen, giving silent support.  And the husband knows that he can trust in her.  He knows that he can rely upon her.  He knows that he can count on her.

What of the husband who lacks this type of trust in his wife?  Though the reasons are varied, perhaps the most common reason is that there is no consistency in her relationship to her husband.  The husband may not know from day to day, or even from minute to minute, what his wife’s attitudes or actions may be.  As he comes home from work, he is never sure of what will greet him upon his arrival.  Because of the uncertainty, he lacks a confident reliance upon her.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.  Did you know that it is impossible to change someone’s heart?  But for the wife who desires to build a deeper level of trust in her husband’s heart, there is a sure way.  The Word of God gives clear instruction for the Christian wife, and as the wife walks more and more consistently in the truths of the Word of God, an amazing thing happens.  Safe trust in her grows in her husband’s heart.  And even more amazingly, as the husband sees Who it is that gives her such stability, he will often realize just how trustworthy her Lord is!

What are those truths given directly to the Christian wife?  She is to love her husband (Titus 2:4), she is to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33), and she is to subject herself unto her husband (Ephesians 5:24).  Without fail, these truths, as they are lived out in the wife’s life by the power of the Spirit of God, will foster an incredible trust in the heart of a husband.  God is faithful, and He works through His Word!

Does your husband’s heart safely trust in you?  Can he count on you for companionship?  Can he trust that you will be a help to him?  Does he know that each and every day you will do him good and not evil?  Does he know that you are his greatest supporter?  Can he consistently sense your respect for him in the things that you do for him and in the things that you say to and about him?  Does he know that you will follow his leadership?  Is he sure, without a doubt, that you will care for his needs – preparing food and clothing for him?  Is he certain that you will faithfully care for the children?  Does he know that you are thankful for the home that he has provided and that you will keep it carefully?   Can he trust that when he reaches out to you for intimacy that you will respond positively to his need? Can he rely upon you to spend money wisely?  The questions are many.  Take them before the Lord in prayer.  Allow Him to bring to your remembrance the truth of His Word, along with comments that your husband has made.  Allow Him to show your husband’s heart to you  by the things that he has said.  Then listen carefully as the Spirit of God applies truth to your life.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.  Why?  Because she does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

May it be said of you, as of Ruth of old:

For all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
Ruth 3:11

The above article was first printed in Dawning Light © 2004.

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.

In Every Thing

As the church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be

to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:24

When we let our reverence for The Lord Jesus Christ be our example and pattern for respect and submission to our own husband, our marriage will, in turn, be an example and pattern to the world.

And we will bring glory to our Lord!

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!

A Simple Test

It was a busy day. I already had my list of things that I needed to accomplish. I knew I would have to utilize my time well to complete all of the tasks that I had placed on my list. And a quick glance at the list would remind me that they were all needful tasks, so I had better get busy.

But then came that gentle, quiet pull to the Scriptures.  A specific scripture entered my mind.  I attempted to push it away without any consideration to the truth contained therein.  I really did have a lot to do, and I really didn’t have time to sit down right now. But, there it was, the same gentle pull to the same scripture.  I passed on through the house to set about to do my duties, but my heart heard it again:

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I knew that scripture well, but why was it echoing in my mind this morning?  I knew, then, that I needed to stop. I reached for my Bible and sat down.  I turned to that well-known passage in Proverbs 31, a passage that I had studied through the years, one that is often dismissed because of such great familiarity with it – just as I had dismissed it this morning.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I began to read and be reminded of that virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.  I recalled that this Biblical word virtuous was actually a word that means strength.  The woman described in the passage is the one that God describes as a strong wife.  And I also recalled that it is not easy to find such a wife!

I moved to the next verse and pondered the great confidence that this husband had in his wife.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.

This husband really didn’t need anything else, because he had her.  He could rely on her.  I knew how that level of confidence had developed – why he so confidently counted on her. I knew because the next scripture explained it:

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She actually did good – and not evil – to him each and every day!  And that is why his heart could safely trust in her!

That is when this simple test came into my heart:

Did I do good to David every day?

Did I do good to him in my actions?

Did I do good to him with my words?

Did I really help him?

Did I encourage him?

Or were my actions or words used as evil towards him?

And much more pressing, did I even have time for him?

I really wasn’t liking this little “test”.  I knew that I wasn’t a bad wife, but was I this strong wife that is described in Proverbs 31?  What did I need to change?

First, I needed to have my mind renewed.  I had to be reminded, and I had to think according to the truth of Scripture.  Then, I had to change my priorities.  I had to put my husband and his needs in the forefront of my mind.  I had to be ready to do him good as the opportunities arose and as The Lord led.  I prayed through the day ahead.  Something changed.

Now the press to accomplish the tasks on my list seemed to diminish.  My heart was rested.  Yes, I still needed to work on those tasks, but my mind and heart was on my husband and things that would bless him.  And I knew that when he came in for lunch, the atmosphere of my home wouldn’t be in such a hurry and scurry.  I would even attempt to make a lunch that I knew he would enjoy.  And I would take time to sit down and just listen to the things that he might say.  I would be encouraging and positive to him.  As crazy as it sounds, I was starting to look forward to him coming in for lunch.  My heart was set to do him good.

God works in the simplest of ways.  One simple verse can change the whole tone and direction of a day.  I think that going into the day, I was certain to fail the “test”.  But now, God had prepared my heart for the day!  I guess it is as though I had taken time to “study” – to be reminded of truths that God had already taught me –  and I believe that I am going to pass that simple test:

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

And that includes today!

Why the Struggle?

Imagine that you are standing beside a towering, wooden fence. You peer through the tiny cracks that seem to call your name.  Through those inviting spaces, you see a beautiful garden. Your heart is captivated, and you intently examine the beauty of the garden.  You desire to walk in the midst of this delightful garden, but you are forbidden.  Something holds you back. Something prevents your entrance. The tall, wooden fence seems to loom In front of you.  You can see the beautiful garden, and you desire to live within those exquisite surroundings, yet you find you are still standing on the outside.  Why can’t you enter in and walk there forever?

This simple analogy is meant to portray what sometimes happens to us as we study the truths of Scripture regarding marriage.  We can go to the garden in Genesis and see the beauty of marriage as God created it. We get a glimpse of the goodness of it, yet we find ourselves standing on the outside.  We would love to be able to walk in the truths that we have learned, yet something prevents us, and we cannot enter in.

Why do we struggle in living out the truths of God’s Word?  Why does a marriage often end up being a miserable battleground rather than the delightful companionship that God intended?  Why, when we desire to change, do we continually return to the battle?  Interestingly, the answer can be found back in the book of Genesis.

A careful examination of the Scriptures will shed light on our dilemma.  In Genesis 1, we a saw God speaking His perfect Creation into existence. Then in Chapter 2, we saw details explained concerning the creation of the man and the woman.  We got a glimpse of the perfect harmony between the man and the woman. Chapter 2 closes with the joining of the two into one flesh. And they both were naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed.

But as soon as Chapter 3 opens, deception, temptation, disobedience, and sin unfold.  God’s perfect Creation is marred by sin.  Innocence, perfection, peace, and harmony immediately disappear.  How drastically different the relationships become.  For the first time, the man and the woman become aware of their own selves. And the eyes of  them both were opened, and they knew they were naked. For the first time ever, they become aware of their own flesh.

In addition, their response to God Himself completely changes.  They are afraid, and they hide themselves from God. And as God questions them about their sin and disobedience, blaming and accusations emerge. God declares the consequences that will face not only them, but mankind, forever.  And it is here, as a result of sin, that the struggle is born.

But an even more careful examination of Genesis 2 and 3 will reveal more!

Regarding the man:

In his creation:  God created the man from the dust of the ground.

In his work:   God took the man and placed him in the garden to dress it and keep it. (His  work was directly related to the substance from which he had been created.) And God took him and placed him there.

In the consequence of his sin:  Now difficulty would arise in the very calling and placement of God.  Sorrow, toil, difficulties, thorns, thistles, sweat, struggles would exist in the very calling and purpose for the man.

And follow the parallels regarding the woman:

In her creation:  God created the woman from the side of the man, from his rib

In her work:  God took the woman and brought her to the man. (Her work was also directly related to substance from which she had been created – to be by his side as a help and companion to him.) And God took her and brought her to the man.

In the consequence of her sin:  We  know simply from the design of the woman’s body, that she was the one who was designed to carry children within the womb, to provide a safe, nurturing environment for those children to grow and develop, and she was the one who was designed to nurse children as she snuggled them close to her breast.  But, a part of her consequence would be that in the very thing for which she was created and designed, she would now experience pain and sorrow! She would struggle not only in the bearing of children, but in the raising of them!

Additionally, though she had been created to be a help to the man, she would now desire to rule over him, and, in return, he would rule over her!  Recalling that all of these were negative consequences, we now can understand more clearly the struggle.

What really happened?

The consequences of sin brought an awareness of flesh, a separation from God, and struggles in the very purpose for which God had created both the man and the woman.

Why the struggle, we ask?

We struggle so hard in our marriages because those consequences remain for mankind.  We now have a keen awareness of our own flesh and its desires and are ruled by them; we are separated from God and live apart from Him; and we fight and struggle within the consequences of sin declared from the beginning.

The picture is bleak. Is there no hope? Must we always stand on the outside looking in to God’s perfect ways, but never enter in?

Oh, no, no, no, my friend! There is an answer, but it must be God’s way, and not our own. What, then, is the answer?

First, we must be reconciled to God, and He has made that possible through Jesus Christ. In actuality, He reaches out and calls us to return to Him! And the struggles of life serve to cause us to see our need for Him.

Secondly, we must subdue the flesh.  We must understand that it is impossible for our flesh to produce any good thing.  Our flesh only produces selfishness and strife, both in actions and words.  We must allow the Spirit of the Living God to fill us and control us.  For if you recall, it was the presence of the Spirit of God that Adam and Eve lost which caused them to become so aware of their flesh.

And finally, we must return to the purpose for which God created us.  For the man, dressing and keeping the garden seemed to have the concepts of provision and protection woven within. And for the woman, God’s creative purpose would include being a help and companion to the man.  Additionally, from that union of the two becoming one, God would bring children into the marriage for the husband and wife to nurture, love, and raise to the glory of God.

Three things are a must:  1) a living, loving relationship with The Lord,  2) control by the Spirit of God, and  3) walking in the calling for which God created you.

The struggles will diminish, the joy will increase, and you will forever delight that you entered in!