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Your Opportunity (Part 1)

Those of you who read this blog may or may not be aware that my wife and I went through several months of separation in 2006 & 2007. We were separated for 7 months. Although we were only separated for 7 months, we continued to struggle in our marriage over the next several years. I don’t intend to go into details at all about our situation. But there are some things I would like to share about our situation and what we continue to learn as the Lord continues to have His way in our lives.

So often we hear of and see churches and other institutions offering services like divorce counseling or divorce recovery. I know some churches and counseling centers offer marriage counseling. But what about those people who fall somewhere in the gray areas of a troubled marriage? Perhaps the man of the house has left a mother alone with the children. Perhaps the woman has left and the only one willing to seek help from a counselor is the one who remains. I’ve heard people say you should not fight about it, but simply let the other spouse leave and move on with your life. And they would use the scriptures to try to justify letting them go and moving on.

1 Corinthians 7:15
On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go. You don’t have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can.” – The Message

If read by itself it would seem as though Paul is telling the spouse who desires to keep a marriage together to just quietly let the other spouse walk out and not do anything to fight the way things are. But that is not where Paul stops and neither should we. Let’s read on.

1 Corinthians 7:16 & 17
“You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God. And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. – The Message

The key phrase here is “The way you handle this.” It only takes one person to stand for the restoration of your marriage. That one person is you! The one who hasn’t given up. The one who still believes your marriage is worth fighting for. You. If you stand for the restoration of your marriage, God can and will use you. Being a “stander” is not easy. In fact, it is probably the most difficult thing you will have to do concerning your marriage. There is no short cut, there is no easy road, there is no quick fix. Most likely you will hurt. But don’t waste the pain. Let me repeat that. Don’t waste the pain.

Matthew 16:24-26
“The Jesus went to work on his disciples. ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’ ” – The Message

If you are in a situation like this, you are suffering and there is great pain. But Jesus tells us not to run from it. Instead he wants us to embrace it in very much the same way he embraced suffering on the cross for the restoration of creation’s relationship with its Creator. A comforting thought in embracing our suffering is that he doesn’t ask us to do something and then leave us hanging there trying to figure out how to do it. He then tells us to follow him and he will show us how to do it.

Just as Jesus became the sacrifice required for the atonement of sin, he calls us to a life of self-sacrifice, a laying down of ourselves (or a standing in the gap, if you will) for the sake of our marriage and family. When we do this we are laying our lives down, dying to our flesh, dying to our own desires. It is during this process, the death of self and resurrection life of Christ in us that we see the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had. The opportunity to draw near to the Lord. Its our opportunity to respond as Peter did in John 6:67 & 68…

“Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Peter replied, ‘Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life.’ ” – The Message

Its your opportunity to come to the end of yourself and confess, “Jesus, there’s nowhere else for me to go. You alone have the words of life. I lay my life down to die and take up Your resurrection life. Change me. Transform my life. You are my life. Live in and through me.  Let my life be for You, by You, through You, and to You alone.

This is your opportunity to know the Lord in ways greater than you ever have in your life. Christ is there and He is willing and able to transform your life.

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