Dan and I have been handed a gift. A gift to serve our God in a big way. We are both humbled and thankful for this opportunity; not because we are worthy, nor because we are even qualified, but because of the call God gave us many years ago to “teach sinners His commands so that they will turn back to Him.” (Psalm 51:13).
This verse in Psalm 51 became the new mission for our marriage. It came to us on the heels of brokenness in our relationship.
When we first married, and for quite some time into our marriage we had a good relationship. We loved each other immensely. We were best friends. We were a couple that thrived on being together vs. apart. Being apart would cause us trouble. And it was trouble that we began to experience many years ago.
The details are insignificant; to sum up, we allowed life, kids, job, service, extended family, get in the way of our commitment to each other. Suddenly, we were caught in the hurricane of busy and the storm of survival. In the end, we lost what mattered. We forgot our first love for each other and traded it for other important things. We had our priorities in the wrong place.
Temptations made way into the relationship. Some were acted upon, and some only entertained. Both were destructive, until the day we both broke down and confessed our sin to each other.
Grace for one another became our new way of life.
Our marriage hit the crux of crumbling. I called the Pastor; he and the Associate Pastor came to our home right away. Sitting at the kitchen table, with tears streaming down my face, my husband downtrodden, we confessed our brokenness to both men.
They were kind, loving, understanding, compassionate, and full of grace and truth.
After encouraging us and reading God’s word, they both took turns praying for us. What happened next was amazing! I cry every time I share this!
Dan and I were sitting together. Holding hands, we bowed our head; closed our eyes. With his hands on both of us, the one Pastor prayed. While he was praying, my eyes seemed sealed shut. I could not open them. I wanted to because I felt an intensely bright light shining over us. While it shined, I could hear the following words in my head, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-27).
Once the first Pastor finished praying, the light went away. Then the second Pastor prayed. Suddenly, the intensity of the light returned, and again, I heard the same words from Numbers 6:24-27.
The prayer was over. I looked outside to see if the sun was shining (surely what I experienced was my imagination!). But it was dark and cloudy. I silently pondered what happened, wondering if God was communicating a message to me.
Our Pastors hugged us and left.
Dan and I sat on the couch and talked about our time with them. Then Dan said to me, “The strangest thing happened to me while they were praying. I felt an intensely bright light on me. I wanted to open my eyes, but I couldn’t. Then I heard the following words, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
My heart sank into my stomach! I realized that we both encountered the Lord! I told Dan I had the same experience! We looked at each other, trembling, amazed, encouraged; we hugged and cried.
Together, God revealed to us that He was with us. His face was shining upon us. His grace was freely given. His face turned toward us. He was going to use this difficult time in our life to strengthen other marriages. When? We did not know. We did know, that what just happened to us was a significant calling on our life.
We had work to do. Over twelve or so weeks, we met with our Pastor for counseling. We learned so much – what to do – what not to do. We healed, we forgave, we began to trust again. Since then, our top priority has been our relationship and keeping God first in our marriage!
That was approximately 14 years ago. Since that time, God has used us to lead marriage and parenting studies and counsel couples.
Our marriage is healthy and strong. It’s not perfect! But we have learned to recognize the triggers that tempt us away from each other. We talk, we work through them, we help each other, we pray for and with one another; and more importantly, God is our rock. He is the One who holds us together. He’s our superglue! Without Him, we would have joined the divorce statistics of society. I’m so glad we chose to turn our marriage trial into a testimony of grace, instead.
We knew that God had big plans for us to invest in marriages. And to some degree, we have been living this plan in the last six-plus years. But now, God has asked us to go to a country, where the culture does not support biblical marriage and family.
We are to share with the church there what it means to have a marriage where Christ is the center and how we, husband and wife, can live out His plan in our families.
Again, what an amazing gift!
We can barely believe it! We can hardly wait to get started! But we must ask you, will you join us in giving thanks to our Father in Heaven?
Will you pray for us: the leader and the team? Will you pray that God opens doors, empowers us with His Spirit and that “we will remain confident of this: that we will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13)?