Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
The devil specializes in sneak attacks. A deacon, a Sunday school teacher and husband to a faithful women’s leader, Gary never saw the battle line forming. In fact, his plans included only rejoicing and celebrating. Having renewed their vows at a recent anniversary celebration, marriage woes seemed the last of his worries. Returning from a spiritually uplifting Men’s Retreat, Gary thought the weekend only held a celebration of his 50th birthday. Instead, it marked the beginning of a very fierce, painful battle.
Years of unresolved heart issues exploded for Gary’s wife; she left their marriage to begin a new life with Gary’s co-worker. Devastation, depression and desperate confusion marked Gary’s days. Victory in the early days of the battle was simply mustering the courage to face a new day. The promises of God seemed distant, but they were his lifeline. Gary says of that time, “I clung to the promise in Psalms 37 that if I committed my way to God, He would act. He has; but not in the ways I wanted Him to and not at the speed I wanted. I would never have chosen this, but without it, I would never have known God as I do. He has kept His promises.”
His wife’s decision irrevocably altered the structure of Gary’s life. An empty home, strained family relations and gatherings, difficulty with continually encountering the co-worker and disruption in the church family all followed her choice. Gary stepped down from leadership in the church and eventually sought a job that kept him from the loneliness of home more consistently. The scriptures he had taught for so long sometimes seemed to mock him…the promises felt empty and the heartache overwhelming. Yet, Gary faithfully sought biblical counsel from pastors, family and friends’ and he pressed on. Time passed bringing new understandings, but not the deeply desired restoration of the marriage. Throughout the battle, Gary sought and shared glimpses of God’s hand; he was a faithful, albeit broken, witness for God.
In marriage, Gary had been controlling; the concept of forgiving infidelity beyond the scope of his world. Yet in his heartache, he came face-to-face with the reality of the pain of love willing to forgive. He felt, too, the pain of that willingness rejected. Gradually Gary began to see the glory of Jesus Christ in an entirely new dimension. Recognizing the cost of forgiveness and the pain of rejection, he could not help but be awed at the marvelous, perseverant love of God. His heart bowed in humble victory before God’s incredible love.
Understanding in such a personal way is a suffering that Gary does not wish on anyone, but grasping the preciousness of Christ is a privilege he does not dismiss. His victory did not look like he expected; he thought that his initial commitment to God would be the key to restoring his marriage. Instead, it was the key to expanding his experience of God. The victories in our Christian life do not transform us into picture-perfect Normal Rockwell prints. Sin, broken-ness and rejection wound souls…both those who hurt and those who are hurt suffer. Healing in Christ is one person at a time, one life at a time. We cannot be healed for another but we can encourage another to seek healing. Victory stories are not about perfect people; they are about our perfect God. Give Him the glory, great things He has done and will do!