Christian Walk, Divorce, Endurance, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Prodigals, Waiting on God

Signs of Restoration

Tommy and I get a number of inquiries from readers asking my perspective or what we often refer to as the prodigal’s perspective on certain topics. One of the more common questions is, do you think my prodigal is open to the possibility of restoration. More than likely, if you are asking this question, the answer is yes!

During our pause, it was evident to Tommy when the Lord was working on me and softening my heart. We began having more meaningful conversations and spent quality time together with our children. That doesn’t mean there is no hope of restoration if your spouse (or ex-spouse in some cases) doesn’t desire to speak to you or spend time with you, but it may mean you have a longer road ahead if the latter situation is one you find yourself in currently. 

Below are some practical tips along with biblical guidance that greatly impacted my life during our separation and divorce.

  1. Show your prodigal sacrificial love without expecting anything in return.

Nothing demonstrates Christ’s love like sacrifice and selflessness. Find ways to love and serve your prodigal without expecting anything in return. If you are not sure what to do, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and don’t be surprised if He reveals something that is outside your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone forces trust in the Lord and growth in your spiritual walk. That awkward and uncomfortable feeling also produces authenticity. Your prodigal will sense if you are attempting to serve with an ulterior motive so the more authentic, the better. 

There are numerous examples I’ve shared in our podcasts where Tommy went above and beyond in his pursuit to love me well. His acts of service displayed the love of Christ in ways that were not present during our previous ten years of marriage. Over time, the seeds he sowed took root and began to grow. His sacrifices did not go unnoticed. It did not happen immediately, but in time, God revealed the fruit from his labor. 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. ‭‭
Philippians‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭

  1. Ask if you can pray with your prodigal or if you can pray for them.

It’s important to use discernment when addressing your prodigal. Some days there may be more of a reluctance to talk about spiritual matters than others. But, when you recognize there is an openness and willingness, ask if you can pray with your spouse or pray for them. Not only will this create a healthy dialogue, but it will also shine a light into what’s happening in the life of your prodigal. 

I don’t recommend this every time you speak, but perhaps monthly or bi-weekly depending on how often you talk. Also, be sure to prepare your heart for their response. Don’t take it personally if they do not request prayer for your marriage. When you spend quiet time with the Lord, you can pray for your current situation.

If your prodigal is agreeable to prayer, that is a great sign that God is at work! Desiring your prodigal to have a restored relationship with the Lord should far outweigh the longing for a restored marriage. Keep in mind, only the work of the Holy Spirit can transform the heart and mind so be patient and loving when approaching your spouse.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
Matthew 18:20

I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
Jeremiah 24:7

  1. Take responsibility for any sinful behaviors, habits or actions that you may have contributed to the marriage. 

I recognize this may be very hard to hear, and you may be wondering why you should take the initiative if you’re the one being wronged. This difficult question has a very simple answer. God took the initiative to love us when we were unloveable and we should do the same for our covenant spouse. Repentance is necessary before reconciliation can occur and God’s Word calls us to reconcile relationships. You have no control over your prodigal’s actions or inactions, but you can take personal responsibility for yourself.

I remember vividly every time Tommy came to me to apologize for past sins and ways he had wronged me. At first, I thought he was using his sins as an excuse for his bad behavior. With time, I came to understand that God had transformed his heart and his godly sorrow was sincere.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans‬ ‭5:8‬

‭Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke‬ ‭6:27-28, 36‬ 

For those that have little to no contact with your prodigal, there is still hope! We did not always communicate well or communicate often. It takes time. God hears your cries and understands your desire for healing and restoration, so don’t give up on the process. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I pray these steps come in handy.

  1. Pray fervently. 1 John 5:14, Romans 12:12, James 5:16, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  2. Read Scripture for encouragement and guidance. Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 25:4-5, James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  3. Fast. Joel 2:12, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 5:6
  4. Serve while you wait. Galatians 5:13, Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 20:27-28, Romans 12:10-13
  5. Lean on your church family. Galatians 6:2, James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24-25

Dear friends, may God continue to bless you and strengthen you as you stand for your marriage, no matter where you are in your journey!

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Divorce, Endurance, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Inspiration, Marriage, Suffering, Waiting on God

Stranger in your Hometown

Do you feel like a stranger in your hometown? Or maybe even a stranger in your own home? I know I felt that way when I returned to the states after living overseas for several years. The community that was once very familiar was not and the people I thought I knew had changed. Where I imagined I would feel safe and at peace, I felt overwhelmed and lost. It was difficult to communicate those feelings with people that hadn’t lived or experienced that “strangeness” before. I remember trying to describe my situation to family and friends, but often they didn’t understand. I recall reading Luke 4:16-30 and taking great comfort in knowing Jesus understood what it felt like to be a stranger in His hometown.

The same passage was preached by our pastor this past Sunday, but this time, the story resonated with me in a completely different way. If you are not familiar with this passage, it is the story of Jesus’ return to his hometown of Nazareth. In verse 18, he identifies himself as the prophesied Messiah, but unfortunately his message was not well received and he was rejected by the locals. The villagers that had grown up with Jesus did not accept that he was anything other than the son of Joseph and an ordinary carpenter. Even his own family did not believe him initially. Those that had admired him, rejected the truth of his claims. Scripture goes on to say that the locals were filled with wrath and drove Jesus out of his hometown. I can imagine he felt like an outsider!

When I listened to the message Sunday, it brought back memories of when Tommy and I were separated. I know during that time he felt like a stranger in his hometown. Friends and a few family members thought he was crazy for holding onto hope of a restored marriage. By all accounts, it appeared as if the distance between us was far too great to be mended. His stand for our marriage seemed like a lost cause and sadly, I was no different than the villagers of Nazareth. When confronted with the truth, I too rejected the message as well as the messenger. My heart was embittered and hardened after years of marital setbacks and disappointments. I didn’t want to hear the truth and chances are if you are standing for your marriage, your prodigal spouse does not want to hear it either. But, oh how my heart swells with gladness knowing Tommy did not give up! Although he endured pain and suffering as he withstood the trials, he continued speaking the truth in love. Over time, my hard exterior softened as God’s Word penetrated my heart.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

Oh friends, I’m extremely grateful for messages like these because I never want to forget the grace that God poured out on me. Likewise, I stand in amazement at the strength of the Father’s hand as He upheld Tommy during his time in the valley. Perhaps you are facing loneliness and harsh rejection during this difficult season of life. Remind yourself and those around you of the truth from God’s Word.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Stand on God’s promises in times of difficulty, knowing and believing that God has the power to do great things, far greater things than you can even imagine! He is working behind the scenes weaving together a beautiful tapestry to be revealed in His time. Speaking as a previous doubter who didn’t believe Christ was capable of being the Savior of my marriage, He proved me wrong! He showed me He is THE Savior to all and in all circumstances.

With love in Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Endurance, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

Be Ready for Attack!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world

1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV

Through the course of our ministry, my wife and I have heard from many standers. One recurring question we have heard deals with how to handle attacks from a prodigal spouse. In most cases, the “attacks” come in the form of verbal abuse, passive aggressive actions, or blatant inappropriate behavior with a member of the opposite sex. In any case, it matters little how the attacks come packaged. The ensuing trauma and devastation sustained by standers can so painful as to leave many to wonder if saving the marriage is even worth it.

If you have felt this in the course of your stand, believe me when I say you are not alone. In the midst of my time in the valley, there were many occasions when I cried out to God begging that he would cause the pain to go away or to help me understand why everything was happening the way it was. At that stage of the battle, I was still at a point where I didn’t know how to handle the circumstances I was in. I failed to discern the spiritual nature of what was happening or how to successfully defend myself against the enemy’s attacks. To serve as an example, I submit the following diary entry.

My heart aches. The emptiness that consumes me is ever present. Oh my children! So innocent. So undeserving of any of this. Amy, why do you hate me so? Why can you not see what you are doing? Lord, what am I to do? I know my response must be love, but should this love confront Amy with the word of truth? When I do, it falls on deaf ears. She doesn’t hear me. She cares nothing for me. I am worthless to her.October 25, 2015

At the time of that particular writing, I had fallen into a despondent and thoroughly depressed state of mind. So worn down by the enemy I was. Tired, defeated and utterly hopeless could best describe me then. But despite my fragile condition, the Lord was working. It was only after I had been brought to a place of true repentance and submission, I became able to discerned the strategy of the evil one, and see with my own eyes, his wicked hands and voice of deception at work. This same modus operandi of Satan has been around since the fall of man. It is a tried and true tactic that has worked nearly every time it’s been used. But despite the effectiveness, there is one memorable example in Scripture where the strategy didn’t work.

If you recall the New Testament story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, you’ll remember that in every instance where Satan attempted to deceive Christ, Jesus’ immediate response was to call upon Scripture. You’ll notice that Satan didn’t attempt to argue when confronted with absolute truth. Instead, he moved on to a different temptation and lie. Jesus responded the same way He did previously. Eventually, Satan gave up and left. He knew the attempts to deceive were of no use. In other words, the enemy’s attacks simply rolled off Jesus’ back. Our Lord was equipped and prepared to thwart what was coming at Him, because He was filled with a knowledge of the truth. This comes only from the Word of God.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

Rev. 12:10 ESV

Attacks come via direct orders from the ultimate enemy, Satan, who is described as the great deceiver and accuser. Prodigals under the enemy’s control, will point the finger of judgement and blame at standers as a means to take the focus and spotlight off of their own sinful behaviors. This is a typical strategy meant to deflect and avoid confronting their own iniquities. As long as the focus is on you, whether it is your past or what they interpret as your “wrong” behavior now, they are free and clear to pursue whatever lifestyle choice they desire. Attacking and accusing you, often of the very things they are doing, is an intentional act meant to control the narrative and to frame their perspective on things in such a way as to condone their own behavior and demonize yours.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Eph. 6:13 ESV

We know from Scripture there is nothing new under the sun. The lies and accusations your prodigal is uttering now, have been used over and over again by sinners looking to justify their behavior. If you are standing for truth and your marriage, the attacks will come, however, you must not take them to heart nor allow them to negatively impact your identity as a child of Christ. Rightly interpret the attacks for what they are; desperate attempts from a defeated enemy who knows his days are numbered. Standers need to deflect what is coming at them by equipping themselves with the Word of Truth. The enemy has no answer for this and never will.

To be clear, we are not advocating for engaging in a shouting contest with your prodigal as they hurl accusations and you respond by quoting back Scripture. On the contrary, when the fiery darts come, stay calm, collected and composed. Respectfully walking away from a potentially volatile situation is far better and much wiser, than giving into your emotions and once and for all, letting your prodigal spouse have it. Let God be the one who delivers justice. You be the one who focuses on demonstrating grace, perseverance and forgiveness.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson
Purposed Marriage