But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
In 1964, as a 19-year-old kid, I left home for the first time to attend mortuary science college in Cincinnati, Ohio. More than once during those first months I gave serious thought to loading up my red VW, withdrawing from school and heading south. I felt so alone. How I longed to be back in Pompano Beach.
There is a diploma that has hung on our wall for over 40 years, even through divorce and remarriage, certifying I successfully completed school in Cincinnati. I refused to give in to my feelings and quit. That diploma allowed me to serve people many years of my life as a Licensed Funeral Director.
Our daughter, Lori, and granddaughter, Ashley, have had to be in Cincinnati for Ashley’s medical treatment regularly now. How I have longed to be back in Cincinnati. Instead of a small red VW, it is now a big gray van that I have wished could be heading north with my wife so that I could be with two of the ladies I love.
When I was starting school in Cincinnati, one of our professors made an odd statement in orientation. Even though it has been over 40 years ago, I can still quote his words; “This is going to be the best time of your life, but you will not realize it until about ten years after you graduate.” When that comment was made, a corporate moan came from those new students. There could be nothing good associated with being away from home, family and friends, in the structured environment of classes and homework, all the time struggling to pay tuition and get by on limited funds.
When Lori and Ashley go to Cincinnati, I have served as the GPS (that’s Grandpa’s Positioning System) for my girls, helping them to get around Cincinnati, suggesting where to find the best Cincy chili, and I have even helped my daughter to navigate in snow for the first time in her life. I realized again that my school time up there had been some of the best times of my life. I have so many good memories as I recalled my days at school.
Way back then, God put me in Cincinnati and I longed to be in Pompano with my family. Now, God put me in Pompano and, when Lori and Ashley go to Ohio, I long to be in Cincinnati with them.
I wonder if my school time was not much like Charlyne’s standing. We both thought that we were miserable, but we were both learning. Every time my wife says, “I would not have passed up my time standing for anything,” she hears “Amen’s” from every other restored marriage stander in the room.
May I paraphrase Professor Nichols’ comment as Charlyne might say it? “Standing is going to be the best time of your life, but you will not realize it until about ten years after your marriage is restored.”
I am alive today because my wife learned how to call on God during her stand for marriage restoration. The fervent praying Charlyne has been doing for Ashley is possible because my wife learned to trust God when her marriage depended on it. Charlyne has seen the power of prayer when I have been so sick. She knows that her God is truly the Greatest Physician, Jehovah Rophe. Do you?
May I ask a pointed question? Where are you today in your stand for marriage restoration? Are you learning that God is a promise keeper, and fully trusting Him for your marriage to be healed? Could you be more like that immature kid with a red VW, refusing to endure the discomforts of this season of drawing close to God in a relationship that will endure beyond the rest of your life? Are you ready to withdraw from standing and retreat into the world, seeking its temporal comforts? If you do, you are going on what my wife calls a “detour road.”
Men and women around the world, whose marriages have been restored, can testify to their spiritual growth while standing. Granted, it is a frightening and lonely time, but God is working in your life each and every day, as you surrender to Him.
May you and I learn to praise God for where He has each of us today. When we do, God is at work in our lives and in our marriages, making us all we can be, and most of all making us people who understand God answers prayer, regardless of circumstances and regardless of location.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
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