During Bible study this week, one of the women asked for prayer because she was married to a backslider. When I told her I had been there too, she wanted to know how I got from there to where God is the center of my marriage.
Before we go any further, I want to address what the Word says about a backslider. James refers to this person as a believer who has wandered from the truth (James 5:19) and goes on to say: “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:20 NIV).
I can only speak from my own experience about what it means to be married to a backslider, but during that time Tim wasn’t walking with the Lord, had no desire to go to church, only prayed before meals out of habit or my promptings, and had one foot in the world.
Now let’s go back to my Bible study friend. Instead of painting a picture of my husband as a sinner and myself as a saint, I was quick to confess my own failings in the marriage. Because as the neck that turns the head, I have the power to influence my husband. And during that time, I was not always using my influence for good. And those little foxes that ruin the vineyards (Song of Songs 2:15) gave the enemy an open door to my marriage.
But since I was part of the problem, I was also part of the solution. So when I saw my marriage was headed for divorce, I looked to God to save my marriage. And He surrounded me with godly women who counseled me and directed me to books that had been tools of transformation in their own marriages.
I went on to tell my Bible study friend that being married to a backslider had been a blessing in my life because through it, I grew closer to God as I leaned on Him and learned three valuable lessons:
- Marriage takes work. We need more than date nights to hold our marriage together. We need to be applying God’s truths to our marriage. An intentional marriage happens when we pray together, learn to love the other in their own language, submit to our husband’s authority, and each have our own relationship with God.
- Marriage takes prayer. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Peter 3:1-2 NIV). I can’t do those things without God’s help.
- Marriage takes surrender. I need to surrender myself to God and make Him Lord over every area of my life. This isn’t something that happened overnight but is a continual process. Every day I need to intentionally choose to surrender my feelings and emotions to God in order to walk in obedience to Him and be led by His Spirit.
As I applied the lessons I learned, I gave God an open door to work in me and my marriage. I couldn’t change my husband. I couldn’t even change me, but I could surrender my life to the One who could change it all.
I would love to say progress was made every day, but sometimes it felt like two steps forward and three steps back. And at one point things looked worse than when we started. But when we fell, God picked us back up again and carried us through. And I hope to never take my marriage for granted again but continue to intentionally apply the lessons I learned and offer some of that same godly wisdom my friends offered me to that woman who finds herself married to a backslider.
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Linked to Titus 2sday.
Rest in His presence.