WHAT A DIFFERENCE ONE SALVATION MAKES!
When I thought about all of the things I wanted to share with the “love, honor and vacuum” audience regarding my (almost) 25 year marriage to my husband, I could not help but make it an encouragement to those who are still waiting for their spouses to receive salvation or even for those who have accepted Jesus, but you, as yet, have not seen much fruit in their lives.
I walked down the aisle fully aware that I was being unequally yoked in marriage. I was a 25 year old Christian girl who believed I had found my prince charming and did not want to think about the consequences. I was not walking with God at that time and was choosing to do my own thing anyway. Like most women, I just believed that I could change my man once we committed to each other at the altar.
As with most marriages, it was not long until the reality of my decision really began to present itself. I believe that God speaks to us loud and clear through his word and the Holy Spirit, so I had no excuse. The difference really began to concern me when our first son was born 3 years later. Having that child made me begin to think about my responsibility for his little soul. I re-dedicated my life to Jesus and began to grow and change. That’s when the real trouble began.
My husband could see these changes and began to get resentful. I was choosing to drink less, watch more appropriate television, study the bible and tithe. I also voiced the need to begin to take our son to church. He very clearly let me know that all of this was not what he signed up for. In his defense, I can imagine that I must have been judgmental and withdrawn at times. I knew that all I could do was begin to pray for him.
I prayed for seven years and still, my marriage was slowly falling apart. My husband turned 40 years old that June and two months later I received the phone call that he was in the ER and had suffered a heart attack. This was our turning point. My husband had a King Hezekiah moment that day:
2 Kings 20:1-6The Message (MSG)
20 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, “Put your affairs in order; you’re about to die—you haven’t long to live.”
2-3 Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced God, praying:
Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done!
I’ve lived an honest life before you,
My heart’s been true and steady,
I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.
And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept.
4-6 Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘God’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life; I’m saving you from the king of Assyria, and I’m covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David’s sake.’”
My husband promised to give the Lord what was left of his life if he would spare it. God answered his prayer. Unlike King Hezekiah, my husband could not recite back to the Lord all the good things he had done for Him. He only knew that he was a sinner in need of a savior and Jesus could be his righteousness and cover all of his mistakes.
What did I learn in those seven years of waiting and praying? I learned to guard my mouth and not cast judgmental glances in his direction. I learned to say something once and then surrender it to God and leave things between the two of them (yes, God can still speak to your spouse even if he is unsaved). I learned to not quote the bible at him. I recognized when I was trying to force God to hurry up and answer my prayer. The most important thing I learned was to praise God in the situation. I really believe that the praise was what brought my husband to salvation.
Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
My husband’s transformation was dramatic! He soaked up the word daily like a sponge, and began to proclaim the gospel boldly. He was now a Jewish believer who had found his Messiah! He would joke that, much like the Israelites, he had wondered around in the desert for 40 years and then he heard the voice of God and came into the promised land. He prayed for people where ever he would go. A day did not go by that he would not share the love of Jesus with someone in his path. He demonstrated the heart of David and would dance and shout before the Lord. He never cared about who was watching, he only cared about what his Lord thought of him.
His life ended in what seemed much like a King Hezekiah story. When he received salvation, the Lord asked my husband to do two things. The first was to preach the gospel to his family and the other was to become a licensed pastor. He completed those two tasks this Fall. One week after completion, the Lord took him home. He had granted my husband 16 more years from that day in the ER and then called him to glory.
I want to say to all of you who feel like you have been praying for years and not seeing results, that God hears your prayers. We have to remember His ways are higher than our ways. I want you to never give up believing that no matter how old your spouse is and how many years you have been praying, God’s timing is perfect and your spouse has the potential to fulfill all God has for him in a short period of time. My husband made more of an impact globally in the kingdom of heaven in 16 short years than most people do in their lifetime. He never wasted an opportunity.
I am asking you to NEVER give up hope and even this day begin with a new strength to praise and thank the Lord for what he is about to do in your husband and your marriage in this season of your life. Don’t allow the devil (or your own thoughts) to cause you doubt, discouragement and defeat.
Let’s encourage ourselves and our Sisters in Christ to never give up praying for those we love, because of the everlasting difference that each and every salvation makes!