Remember, O LORD, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace. Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, our homes to foreigners. We have become orphans and fatherless, our mothers like widows. Lamentations 5:1-3
As you may know, one of my early morning routines is to skim over the email for emergency messages that Charlyne and I would want to know about first thing. One morning I read a testimony submission, and a few messages later, I thought I was reading the same message again, but the two emails were from different people, writing from different states, within a few overnight hours of one another, with basically the same praise reports. Here are excerpts from the two messages:
“My spouse, who lives in another state, called me for the first time in four years tonight. We talked for an hour and a half, and he wished me a happy birthday.”
“My husband moved across the country over a year ago. For the past several months there has been almost complete silence from him, until last week when he called out of the blue and asked how me and our boys were doing. He called for the next several nights just to talk.”
What would cause two prodigal husbands, along with scores of others, to call home? One of the two men is even in a non-covenant relationship, so his call had to be done in secret. What moved one man to make the first such call in four years? Be assured it was not because of some CD or book the standing wife sent to him. It was not an abandoned wife’s attempt to have them added to a marriage ministry’s mailing list, nor was it because a wife pleaded for his return, heaping guilt on an already guilty-feeling man. What then, would cause a man to pick up the phone for the first time in four years and call home? What prompted another silent spouse to suddenly start calling home every night?
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9
These two men, and scores of others in the same predicament, call home because the Holy Spirit of God is moving on their hearts. I know from experience, and I know from talking to scores of other prodigals.
When we find someone else, we want to forget the wife and family we walked out on, but we can’t. The other person is unknowingly doing a million and one things that remind us of our spouse for life, who is praying, standing and waiting at home. God is setting up scenario after scenario to remind us prodigals where we should be, without the standing spouse even being aware of it.
I have to wonder if only a few days ago these two standers were tempted to send messages to us such as these:
“My spouse, who lives in another state, has not even called me in four years. My birthday is coming and I do not want to spend it alone, so I am giving up praying and waiting for my husband.”
“My husband moved across the country over a year ago. For the past several months there has been almost complete silence from him. It is foolishness to think God can restore us when we are many states apart. Please remove me from your mailing list.”
Sadly, we receive email and letters written exactly like these two hypothetical messages. People give up standing because of what they see, when faith is trusting God for what we cannot see.
There are two concepts that every person now in a restored marriage has mastered. First, God is moving in response to your prayers and a faithful life lived for Him as you strive to walk like Jesus. Second, the enemy’s attacks against you are going to be the strongest just before your breakthrough.
Charlyne and I know any number of standers who were once the prodigal in their marriage. After the Holy Spirit brought them to their senses, they discovered a once-standing spouse had followed popular advice from the world to “Get on with your life.” Roles are reversed, as a once-prodigal becomes the stander, praying for a once-stander now turned prodigal. A marriage that should be restored is still torn apart, because someone thought their timing was better than God’s.
If you are only dabbling with standing, using the lingo of a stander but living like the world, not really praying for your spouse, there is very little hope for your marriage unless you correct your course. But if you are a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ, obeying His leading, faithful in prayer and in your lifestyle, the Holy Spirit is calling out to your prodigal spouse every day in ways that cannot even be imagined. The pressure, not from you but from God, for your beloved to do what is right, will become so intense that we prodigals act. That is when the phone is picked up, and the number we just can’t forget is called. For me, that pressure became so intense that I drove 100 miles, knocked on my wife’s office window, asked her to lunch and remarried her two hours later.
Sin can cause us prodigals to do things that are off the end of the scale but when God starts dealing with us, we do things that are almost off the other end of the scale, in our attempts to make our wrongs right and to find peace with the God who created us and who keeps our hearts beating.
Please think about this: If God created the world, and everything in it, if He can put together trillions of cells in our bodies and have all the systems work year after year, can He not be trusted with restoration of your marriage? Why are you using your timetable of how things should be happening? Does the Lord not know better than you? For the sake of your marriage, please let God handle things in His way, and according to His divine schedule.
All the time God is moving, all the time He is calling out to your prodigal spouse to do what is right, the Holy Spirit is allowing the glue, the cement of your one-flesh relationship with your spouse, to keep memories of you alive and active in their heart. Try as we may, we prodigals simply cannot buy enough things, experience enough sin, make enough changes, nor find the replacement for you that will erase the memories of our covenant marriage, regardless of how we try.
God cannot allow sin. He is at work in your prodigal’s life. Will you stop attempting to manipulate things and win the battle for your marriage in the prayer closet? If you can stop watching the calendar, there will come a day when your spouse, like the two men testified about above, will start the journey home. Yes, it may be long, it may be painful and there may be detours, but I praise God that two more prodigals have begun to head the right direction.
God simply will not allow us prodigals to forget a praying and standing spouse, sold out to living like Jesus and trusting Him for the right time. Will you be one?
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:24-26
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