Recently, I preached a message on divorce and remarriage entitled "A Shocking Reversal." I received the letter below in response to the message and wanted to share it with you. — Andy
Through a series of amazing only-God-can-orchestrate events, we found ourselves transferred to this area in April through my husband’s job. We began attending NPCC regularly and fell in love with what God is doing here. We are that Christian couple who, on the outside, appears to be doing most things right: serving, using our spiritual gifts, living for God, guiding others to him, and loving on people in general. BUT we are really good at one thing: covering pain. And this pain came from the ONE thing we had overlooked and “under heard” time and time again over the years: our need to confess the utter wrongness of our—my husband's second, my first—marriage. Not to mention that, but in private, we've had the unmitigated gall to actually be angry with God, our kids, our relatives . . . pretty much anyone and anything we could blame for ALL the pain and crap that has dogged our marriage for twenty years. This all ended Sunday, August 7, 2011, when almost twenty years worth of STUFF following us in our wake and tripping us up daily had finally been cut loose and accounted for.
We have finally awakened, embraced this teaching TOGETHER (for a change), confessed how wrong we were, asked for forgiveness, AND, above all and unbeknownst to me, my husband prayed along with Andy in earnest, asking for that big dose of second marriage grace that I had come to believe did not exist and we would never experience.
I had a funny feeling the way my husband looked at me Sunday after praying and I knew there was something completely new and different about him as we were eating brunch. He looked at me differently. He had a confident peace in his eyes I had never seen before . . . humility with a side of giddiness that told me something had just transpired.
Soon after we got home, he told me what happened to him during the message. He said he came to accept all the truth in this teaching for the first time without letting his pity party run interference in the middle of it and cloud the truth. He admitted he knew better and he was wrong for marrying me and he could no longer blame me for talking him into marriage. He said he'd finally set aside all the details of his divorce and how he'd always been a victim in his eyes, and told God how Jesus was right.
He asked me if I would forgive him and that he forgave me and could no longer punish me for his sin. I was shocked to say the least and overjoyed, but at the same time, a little apprehensive in believing this, since, let's face it, twenty years of hurt aren’t erased by a few pretty words. I'd heard SIMILAR words before, but no ownership of any sin, no different-looking eyes. Time and time again, through what seemed like living in a marriage worthy of a David and Bathsheba level of dysfunction, I began to despair and, over time, began the downward spiral of becoming the most resentful and bitter wife ever. NO one knew this . . . just God and us. Each time, nothing actually changed and we both got worse. The only time we were ever on the same team was when someone else offended us, but otherwise, we had become distant and unyielding, barely decent roommates to each other. We'd actually gotten comfortable in this state.
Well, as I listened to him, it seemed for once his words and actions agreed. I didn't feel the underlying conflict that always seemed to be a part of our marriage. This time, I wanted so much to believe this was real. I began to pray for every little twinge of doubt I had and again and again, over the past several days, God has answered loud and clear: "Yes! See, I make all things new"! Time and time again, my husband would suddenly, without my asking, bring up the exact subject of my doubt and then lovingly assure me of his commitment to being truthful and transparent with me. I won't bore you with all the ways that "big dose of second marriage grace" Andy prayed for in the first service has shown up in our lives, but I can tell you, right now, our hearts are overflowing with a love for each other I don't think we've EVER known, even as newlyweds. I have a new husband! I feel like a new wife! We have a new marriage.
We want to thank NPCC for telling THE TRUTH in love again. We stood there and took the blast of fire from Jesus' words. When it all burned away, we held that precious nugget of truth that is actively saving our marriage, our sanity, and our lives—not just to survive, but to THRIVE. Even as I write this, I am unable to stop the river of tears that celebrates this new day and washes the years of pain from my eyes. My husband feels the same. He leaves for work in the morning, but for the first time in his life, he doesn't want to leave me. His job has finally been sent to the backseat and to sit quietly while we occupy the front seat and together we let God sit on his throne in our marriage.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit for revealing this to us. Thanks to Pastor Andy for bravely preaching it when so many good pastors have given up trying to convey this to their people. Thanks, Lord, for saving this message for us to get all the way to Georgia to hear, when we could have easily missed it. I think we had to be there to hear it. I just do.
We are looking forward to celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary in October as a new ONE.
And, we'll walk on.
Because of Him.