Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering

Don’t Provoke Your Prodigal

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

James 4:1-2

If you have been standing for your marriage and have grown accustomed to dealing with a prodigal spouse walking blindly in sin, you’ve likely faced situations where you’ve been tempted to engage your spouse in a no holds barred debate, in the hopes that through your passionate arguments, they will come to a knowledge of the truth and at long last see the light. While this may seem like a prudent thing to do at times, it is important to remember that a hardened heart, in most cases, will not be receptive to the message you bring. In fact, having to hear your words can in many cases, produce the complete opposite effect, resulting in a greater determination to run from God and to do things on their own terms.

I struggled with this early on in my stand. I was convinced that I actually had the power to argue my way back to restoration. If I could just put the words in the right order or articulate the message in just the right way, surely the message would get through… How wrongheaded this thinking was. Despite my best efforts, all the words I uttered fell on deaf ears. And the words that did penetrate, only served to strengthen her resolve to leave me and our marriage. To be completely blunt, I’d say there is no more effective way to drive your spouse further away from you, than to engage them in a conversation advocating that they leave their life of sin. To be sure, reconciling this in one’s mind is very tough. Logic seems to dictate that exposure to the truth of the Gospel will lead one to repentance. While in the broader context this is true, what standers oftentimes fail to account for is the working of the Holy Spirit. Genuine and authentic heart transformation can only occur if the sinner has been touched on the inside. We cannot do this. This work can only be done by God.

Instead of looking for ways to convince your spouse to return to your covenant marriage, a better and more effective use of your time is to pray for them by asking the Lord to do the work of heart transformation. James talks about our passions and how they can cause us to essentially “war” with others. This certainly rings true for those clinging to our marriages. We long so desperately for healing and reconciliation that at times we act irrationally and convince ourselves that it’s possible to actually force the issue. Please don’t be fooled or led astray by this false way of thinking. Your job as a stander is to love and remain peaceable.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

While the strongest of arguments made on behalf of restoration can easily be used in back and forth exchanges between you and your spouse, the most impactful dialogue you can have will be those that model grace, soft spokenness, and restraint. Make no mistake, this approach should never be considered the easy path. It is extremely challenging to hold your tongue and zip your lips when you want so desperately for your husband or wife to return home. I understand that, but believe me when I say the cause of Christ and His Kingdom are more effectively advanced when you determine to put on the servant’s role and walk humbly in word and deed as the light of Christ flows from you. Remember this as you press on and continue to endure.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson

Christian Walk, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Waiting on God

Come to Your Senses

Before we started our ministry nearly two years ago, Tommy and I spent time intentionally praying and discussing how we would share our story and the life lessons we learned through our restoration process. One aspect we both felt strongly about was a desire to be genuine, to speak from a place of vulnerability and authenticity. In doing so, we never imagined God would use us to touch the lives of so many broken, desperately hurting couples that mirror our past. We are honored the Lord has provided opportunities for us to share our valley experiences in order to encourage other couples amidst their marriage struggles!

Sharing my personal testimony, as once a prodigal, has especially been humbling. When I look back and realize how patient God was with me, I’m often reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 15:9-10.

For I am the least of the apostles unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain.

Praise God, He did not leave me where I was. Our loving Father pursued me, chastened me and showed immeasurable amounts of grace along the way. He also used Tommy to demonstrate love for me as he continually stood for our marriage even when there seemed to be little to no hope. The more I share the heart transformation that took place in my life, the deeper the gratitude I feel towards God for providing my husband the strength to continue his stand.

Tommy’s primary motivation behind standing for our marriage was based on his desire to see God grant us both repentance and bring us back into alignment with God’s will. Part of that painful journey meant he had to patiently endure evil, evil from the one he vowed to love forever, in good times and in bad. I did not come to the knowledge of truth by Tommy pointing out my indiscretions and focusing on my sinful behavior. I came to the understanding of truth by the prayers Tommy and others cried out on my behalf. God heard their pleas and He also looked inwardly to the motivation of my husband’s heart.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26

The closer Tommy walked with the Lord, the more he relinquished control over our situation placing his faith in God to perform a miracle in our marriage. I couldn’t help but notice his full submission to the Lord. Tommy’s gentleness with me turned away my wrath allowing me to be vulnerable to the idea of restoration. I escaped the snare of the devil and I came to the knowledge of the UGLY truth. I had been used by the enemy to do his will! When that devastating reality set in, there was no more finger pointing, no more blame shifting. I came to my senses with a deep sadness which brought me to my knees before the Lord. There were tears of anguish and hurt as the veil was lifted and I understood I had been a participant in doing the devil’s bidding.

Dear friend, it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to prick your prodigal’s heart. The pain you are experiencing may be unrelenting and the natural response is to revile in return. But, keep in mind, your spouse has been captured by the enemy to do his will. Your prodigal will have to come to this realization on their own, in God’s perfect timing. Pray fervently and look to Christ as your example while you wait.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

In Christ,
Amy Larson