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Answering Hard Questions

by pamela spurling

Dear sisters in Jesus---

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, the He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1.3-6)

And I do thank the LORD for you all and do remember you in prayer and am thankful. I'm writing you today with a heavy heart---grieving over the plight of another marriage and its demise. This is the first of another couple of messages I have written on marriage. I'm so terribly saddened over all the stories which have come to my attention and so I pray to continue with fervor writing and attempting to encourage sisters in marriage---perhaps even reaching sisters whose marriages appear hopeless.

You know, quite some time ago I sought the LORD and pled with Him that He would work in me to be a vessel He could/would use and that my heart's desire was to be fully used of Him whatever His choice, whatever the cost and no matter what others would think. I pray to always be of such a mind---especially in difficult days. I pray to never retreat at opportunities or reject situations because of nervous anxiety or fear. O, I pray to God that I would always be a vessel He will use---I pray it for you, too. I pray that you, too, would be a ready vessel and willing be to used of Him in what manner He chooses and that you will have ample strength to handle whatever comes. I pray to be a wife that brings honour and glory to the LORD by my behaviour, thoughts and responses to my husband. We read in Colossians a portion of Paul's prayer: "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness." (1.11) And that's what I pray for you today... that whatever you are facing, whatever your circumstances, whatever your need: that you would be strengthened according to *His* glorious power. When you and I are tempted to doubt, tempted to fear, we must get a hold of this truth and *rest* in it! And why? The verse before this answers this question. "That ye might walk worthy of the LORD, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."

O, that we would be fruitful in every good work... Now, what has this to do with all the sufferings and struggles of the marriages around us? Everything. Everything, because as marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, we must strive to live Christlike and in obedience to His Word. This is where the "increasing in the knowledge of God" part comes in. I believe that the more we know of God, of His Word, of His love, of His works, of His power... we will *live* and be fruitful in every good work. When our chief aim is pleasing God, loving Him and knowing Him more, then I believe our marriages and our homes will be a demonstration of this. Now, am I saying that the sisters whose marriages are failing have not sought to love and know the LORD increasingly? No. I cannot know the reasons for the dissolve of the marriages. I can see some of the *symptoms* of the discontent or the conflict, but, no, I cannot truly know the specific reasons these marriages are fractured. But God knows and I personally believe that He will show a wife and He will show a husband those areas in which work or change is needed in order that the love and marriage be restored---even if there has been a breach of trust... even if there has been a breach of the vows. This is where honest evaluation is necessary and the process of this evaluation will likely produce pain on one or both parts. I further believe that God will reveal to us the areas in which we need to change, correct our path, seek forgiveness or more importantly offer it. I know that when there have been difficult days in our marriage, the conflicts are always traceable to some area in which one or both of us were not right with God, or where one or both of us was not willing to forgive and move on. O, God is merciful...He will be found by you as you seek Him with the whole heart. I say assuredly, if you can still remember an instance where you were wrong and you haven't confessed it, then it's not too late to do so now and to seek forgiveness and perhaps more importantly, resolve to finally and fully forgive your husband.

I share this with you today because as part of the course of discussion with a precious friend enduring marriage difficulties, some matters were brought up that bear additional consideration, and my hope here today is to encourage you---encourage myself---to examine our ways, ask questions and reflect on them in light of God's Word. Trouble in marriage is generally a symptom of something amiss---perhaps many something's! For today, I would like to share with you a few groupings of questions that may help in the process of repairing, restoring or strengthening marriage. This is why I entitled this message: "Marriage... Answering Hard Questions"

Have I left my first love?

Is my walk with the LORD as it should be? Am I daily in the Word, in prayer and meditation and am I intent on obeying all known promptings of the LORD immediately? Do I keep a short account of sins committed against God? I seek to answer these questions and get right with God just now.

In my behavior...

Am I willing to confess and make amends quickly? Do I keep a record of wrong? Do I have love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things? Does my love fail for my husband? Am I childish in my dealing with my husband... am I petty? Do I seek my own way, am I easily provoked and do I think ill or evil of my husband or react unkindly to him? Am I hypocritical or double minded in my speech or actions? I seek to answer these questions very honestly and make necessary corrections and get right with my family members and with the LORD just now.

In my private life...

Am I daily striving to improve? Am I seeking to eat and live in a more healthy manner? Am I endeavoring to be attentive to my husband's interests? Do I seek to understand his world? Do I guard what I watch, what I listen to, and what I read? Do I guard my thoughts? Do I lust after the things my friends have? Do I look around at other husbands and their abilities? Do I compare them with my own husband or use them as a measure of his shortcomings? Am I guarding against negative or critical thinking? Am I remembering to hide God's Word in my heart and to be daily renewed by the hearing of the Word?

In my walk...

Do I set about ordering our home in a manner that is pleasing to him, or do I simply seek to please myself in the organization, decorating, scheduling and tone of our home. Do I take into account his preference for how my day is planned? Do I consider his suggestions when I have a problem, or do I make excuses for my behavior and reject his help. Do I respect his ideas and demonstrate it in my behavior? I pray to be honest and to correct the areas in which I have deceived or defrauded myself or my husband. Am I secretly doing things my husband has expressly asked me not to do?

In marital intimacy...

Do I desire to be attractive in my appearance for my husband? Am I attempting to be desirable to him? Do I find ways to complement him and demonstrate to him that he is desirable? Am I learning how to give him pleasure and am I willing to learn to love him in ways that *he* needs to be loved---even if I find it foreign to my personal idea of what's pleasurable? (I am *not* talking about sinful behavior!*) Am I seeking to be pliable in my outlook. Do I manipulate or use the marriage bed for personal gain? Do I play games with his emotions or lead him on? Do I seek to know his "need quotient" and find ways to meet it?

In all the areas above, we can go before the LORD and with a sincere heart seek to make wrongs right and to walk in His ways, that we might make it our personal desire to "walk worthy of the LORD, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Until recently, we had a van that had no gas gauge, the speedometer hadn't worked for years, the dash lights were undependable and the windows leaked. One would think that this was a very unreliable vehicle and would likely think it was time to take that van to the wrecking yard---it still worked enough to be useful and we had grown accustomed to its problems. Now we have a different van and not only do the gauges work, but lights come on when something doesn't work but you know, at first I was so accustomed to ignoring the lights that the new properly working lights alarmed me and it became necessary for me to "relearn" to keep an eye on them and to understand what they were signaling. I want to relate something to marriage and use the van as an example. Sometimes we become so accustomed to a damaged or inferior situation that we learn ways of coping or side stepping the problem. We may have ignored warning systems so long that we are no longer sensitive to the serious adversity they're indicating and when we ignore the signals long enough, they are no longer alarming to us and we don't react to them with the intent to fix the problem, instead, we ignore them to the point that they may no longer even get our attention---or if they do, we might bang on the dash to get them to stop. Then when the car stops running or will not start, we acknowledge the problem and struggle to find a way to repair it and generally the solution is costly. Had we taken note of the needs of the vehicle in the very beginning and sought the proper fluids and tools and kept the levels in check, and had we set up a maintenance schedule, our vehicle would have been smooth running and dependable.

If we ignore the warning signals in marriage, we may surely wake up one morning wondering how in the world did our marriage slip away. When did we first begin ignoring the lights? Let's begin at this moment evaluating and praying over the condition of our marriage, seeking God's guidance as to trouble spots, our shortcomings or areas of sin and to begin making the necessary, perhaps even painful repairs, confessions and adjustments.

Are the Dash Lights Flashing? I pray for you this day in your home and especially in your marriage: "That ye might walk worthy of the LORD, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."

God bless you and may He joy over you with singing.

In Him, pamela spurling 2001   19992010   PO Box 2130 Snohomish, Washington 98291 USA
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