Today's message is from Bob who was a prodigal who returned home and was remarried to me for an additional 23 years before the Lord took him home to Heaven. Bob wrote 19 books from the prodigal's perspective for more than two decades after our divorce and remarriage.
I picked a devotional from Bob's latest book, The Prodigal Writes From His Heart, that our daughter, Lori compiled in the year following Bob's death. – Charlyne
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
During my prodigal days, while we were divorced, I heard a pastor make a sermon statement that has stuck with me to this day: “If you were able to see the spiritual battle that is taking place all around you, it would scare you to death.” My spiritual eyes were not yet opened, so I could not fully understand what that respected man of God was saying, but nevertheless, I remembered.
Since standing with God for marriage restoration is a spiritual battle, you may not recognize the back and forth of Satan's ways as God's will is being performed. I want to share with you some of the ways that you can know something is happening in the heavenly realms.
It is not necessary for all 18 ways to be seen for your spouse to be brought home, nor will they happen in any specific order. You may even see your prodigal coming up the walk before you see any of these signs; most likely some of these things will be happening:
• You feel like giving up. The enemy will make you think nothing is happening and nothing will ever change.
• You start to sense an increased burden for your prodigal's soul. The restoration of your marriage does not seem nearly as important as where your beloved will spend eternity.
• The Lord burdens you to pray for your husband or wife at the strangest times. For some people, God awakens them during the night to pray.
• Satan sends a counterfeit into your life. Just when things are the bleakest, Mr. Right or Miss Perfect arrives. Some standers make the mistake of thinking, “This must be of God because we are so perfectly suited for each other.” Counterfeits always look better than the real thing.
• People are constantly reminding you about your mate's free will and how you have grounds for divorce.
• People tell you God wants you to be “happy.” In truth, God is a lot more concerned about your holiness than He is about your happiness. He also cares about your mate's lost condition.
• You can see no way out of specific circumstances, such as financial problems. Remember, God works best when nothing else will.
• You are tempted to take off your wedding ring.
• You find Scripture that seems to have been written just for you. The Word speaks to your heart and to your needs.
• Some of the actions of your prodigal spouse are unexplainable. For example, I repeatedly asked Charlyne to stop praying for me. I just knew the conviction that I was under came as a result of her prayers.
• The enemy can even use your family members to dissuade you when the spiritual battle is the hottest. An older teen may say, “If he/she is allowed back, I am going.” Your parents may become dead set against restoration. Do not allow this to discourage you. Over the years, we have been witnesses time and time again of God restoring family relationships as well as marriages.
• You mistakenly start to view your local church as a hindrance to restoration. Satan may give you fear over how your returned prodigal would fit in. Your pastor may come out against marriage restoration. The returned spouse and their church relationship is one of the many areas that God can and does heal for restoring families. Right now, you need the love and support of a church family.
• Prayer partners may be removed. There came a time in Charlyne's stand, near the day of our remarriage and before the Internet, when my wife's personal prayer partner moved out-of-state. God was telling my wife that she needed to depend on Him, not others.
• Major changes in your prodigal mate's life are happening. For some, this is a new job. For others, it is relocation to a distant state, making restoration seem even more impossible. There may be the attempted legalizing of adultery through a marriage license, or a non-covenant child is born.
• You are tempted to make major changes in your own life. It could be reclaiming your maiden name or changing the door locks on your home for no reason. Whatever you are considering doing, it would say to your prodigal spouse, “It's over!”
• You sense a certain uneasiness in your spirit. Where you had once started growing in the Lord as a stander, you now feel something indescribable in your life. Some people confuse God wanting them to intensify their stand with Him, with God wanting them to give up on their stand for a healed home.
• You can forgive your prodigal spouse, even to the extent that you have pity for them, for how deceived they are, and for the situations they are in.
• Your prodigal makes false starts toward home or toward family events, and then just as suddenly withdraws or backs out.
Do you get it? Some of these signs are negative and some are positive. Together, they allow you to catch a glimpse of the battle that is raging in the heavenlies. This battle is for much more than your marriage. It is for your prodigal's eternal soul, and for future generations of your family.
The number one mistake that men and women praying for marriage restoration make is attempting to do spiritual battle with earthly weapons, based on earthly reasoning. They do not understand that spiritual battles, such as the one they are in, can be won only by using spiritual weapons. They use the courts instead of compassion, seeking revenge instead of restoration. They want to heap guilt on the absent spouse instead of grace. Instead of covering their prodigal's nakedness and shame, they want to broadcast it. Walking with Jesus, they become better. Walking in the world's way, they will only become bitter.
The change we see in successful standers is amazing. Somewhere along the way to marriage restoration, the spiritual lights come on, and the stander realizes they are in a spiritual battle. They start to do war against the enemy, and not against their spouse. They may have their ups and downs, but overall, a steady growth in the things of God is noted until their prodigal comes home to both them and to their Lord. May you stand strong until that grand day.