Entering the Kingdom of God ~ from the perspective of the unsaved spouse

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I’ve been walking with the Lord 10 years now.  Who knew He could be so good to me!?

Paul got saved first and I’ve got to tell you, I was not happy about it. No, if fact I was pretty ticked off. I wanted to know who came and stole my husband away. What happened to my “cool” husband? He started acting really weird and quoting the Bible to Chelsea and me and frankly, it only made us both mad. Just who did he think he was anyway? He couldn’t judge us like that! HE was trying to share his new reality but it felt like condemnation to both of us. We didn’t appreciate the change in him at all.

Did this happen to you; did you get saved before your spouse or them before you? It does not make for a happy marriage I’ll tell you that much. When Paul got saved, we were living on the grounds of an Episcopal church in a one-room cottage, as caretakers and grounds keepers. Much of our responsibility entailed installing many gardens and all things landscape.

We were also members of the church and attended every time the doors were open. Due to this; I felt we were more holy than the Pope! I mean, how much more spiritual or holy can you get right?  I would later learn that church attendance had nothing to do with how spiritual or holy you were, much later.

I was also very much into the social aspect of the church because it gave me an opportunity to cook and entertain, which is my passion. This led to me befriending the new caterer who began using the church’s commercial kitchen. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I had found my tribe.

You see, I always joked around about writing a book entitled, A Day in the Life of a “Wannabe” Caterer; only eat the ugly ones. I lived for cooking and entertaining. As my friendship grew with this caterer, I began to help out and was able to share with her the many things I knew that would be useful in her business. I began helping with the flower arrangements, menu ideas, recipes and even working for free. Of course, I also worked full time during the week in our family business too. Every weekend, I would be up at the church lending a hand and have the time of my life.

I did get paid for my work after a few months, though. We become great friends, doing everything together for many years. We took care of each other’s children, we did charity events together, and we partied and cooked together, vacationed together; we celebrated life the best way we knew how.

And then Paul got saved. . .

That changed everything. He was seriously making me not want to be around him very much. He stopped hanging out with our friends and began going to meetings every chance he got.  We were still members of the Episcopal Church but when not attending a meeting there, he would run off to meetings where he could be around other people like him who were experiencing God. When he’d return from these meetings, he wanted to share and talk about what he’d experienced, but I would have none of it; I didn’t want to feel condemned by his words.

He really was only sharing the awesomeness of God, but I only felt condemnation. I began to find opportunities to be gone when he was home which often meant I was at my friend’s house, 35 miles away.

Our marriage began to suffer and I began to not even care. I felt hopeless. We had always been able to converse for hours and hours and now all of a sudden, we had nothing to say to each other. All he ever wanted to talk about was God and I didn’t want to hear it. What I didn’t know was at the same time that I feeling hopeless and experiencing these things, Paul was also. But, he wasn’t content to let things just drift apart, no! He began talking to God about how He would have to send him a new wife because he (Paul) was so holy and pure now that he simply couldn’t have a wife who smoked and drank and cussed like a sailor. No, he needed a holy wife. (Dang!)

I was already feeling somewhat rejected and not good enough anymore so I’m glad I didn’t know he wanted a new wife! Yes, even though I was mad at him and didn’t understand what was happening to us, I would have been devastated to know what he was feeling at the time. I only learned about this years later.

God told Paul He wasn’t going to get him a new wife but instead, Paul would have to fall back in love with me. Paul needed to start making a place for me in his “new” life. This struggle continued for a couple more years.  In the mean time, we left the Episcopal Church because they began ordaining gay Bishops and although we both had personal friends who were gay; neither felt it represented God at all. When we left the church, we also had to leave the cottage we’d been living in for years and that was sad. The good news was, we were getting our own place and that was a dream come true, finally.

Paul had begun praying in the local healing rooms a year or so before and was now in leadership. He still kept running off to other meetings and conferences while I kept on catering, but now I was working with my brother. We were almost living separate lives, but God was still working on this thing!

This is just an excerpt of the journey but needless to say, Paul did make a place for me. He prayed for me all the time, without me actually knowing about it except things began to feel different. He no longer fought with me or tried to correct anything I was doing. He literally just loved me where I was. And also, by falling back in love with me again, he made a way for me to enter into the kingdom. My offenses began to fall away. God started whispering to me there in that place and I even began to love my husband again.

Prayer works as we know but it also takes honor and respect. When I began to receive that (and I absolutely did not deserve it!), my heart changed. I felt a tangible place being made for me to come alongside my husband. I had no clue what it was, or what it meant. What I did know was that it felt good and it felt safe.

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I pray my story might encourage you to pray for your spouse and simply love them right where they are. We can change nothing on our own, but my Jesus certainly can. Persistent prayer along with respect and honor is a game changer and I know we all need change to happen.

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Note: This post is about a journey, not theological understanding. Many things I believed at one time are not what I believe now. I call it a progressive revelation. That is to say, if something I have shared in this post offends you, stop it; this is not where we land. This is where we have journeyed through. We’ve all come through many things . . . GG

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Miracles – What I’ve begun to see in my everyday life

 

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The miraculous isn’t only blind eyes opened or even the dead raised; it’s so much more than that. I don’t know about you but for me, when that term is bandied about I almost always think of a creative miracle and rarely attribute it to anything else; until recently. The other morning while Paul and I were drinking our coffee, Paul began to describe some of the phone calls he received at work a few days prior.  There were those he categorized as “crazy, God showed up” type of calls as he prayed and the person was healed, they were even shouting about it over the phone. And then there were the calls where it seemed like the person wasn’t receiving the prayer or even listening, but instead kept interrupting to explain what was wrong with them or their circumstances. These types of people didn’t receive a perceptible healing or breakthrough. Many were frustrated or angry. Whatever it was, they were not noticeably changed during the course of the call. Some people were rejoicing while others were angry and upset.

As I listened to Paul talk about some of these calls, I felt a shift. It was like, hold on a minute: Isn’t the fact that they were bold or brave enough to call a prayer line pretty miraculous? It certainly would be for me. And, isn’t the fact that they let a total stranger pray for them miraculous too? There had to be some fear issues that they had to overcome. I felt like my box for the miraculous was entirely too small. It was limited primarily to a physical event and that was all. And that did not sit too well with me; it didn’t sit well at all!

Since that morning I’ve been pondering the miraculous and inviting Holy Spirit to give me more revelation on this because it seems that I might have discounted some miraculous things happening all around me that are wonderful and should be celebrated. But yet, it doesn’t mean physical healings and raising the dead are not wonderful things; what it does mean is that you and me can walk in the miraculous on a daily basis. I think it’s a wonderful when I walk into the grocery store and discover I can love everyone I meet. Is that not a miracle? Sure this is easier when I’m having a great day but it’s possible every day!

It’s a miracle when someone overcomes anger or disappointments and gets emotionally healed. It’s a miracle when we have a disagreement on Facebook and yet we can continue to converse with each other, and no one gets offended. It’s a great and rare thing but it does happen.  Did you know it’s a miracle when someone who often is very reactionary, suddenly shows humility and instead of reacting badly, instills order and peace to circumstances around them? That’s a miracle also. These things may not seem all that miraculous to you but believe me, they are. It’s a big deal when someone gets breakthrough and overcomes things. Change is a miracle. Maturity is a miracle. Even counting it all joy is a miracle! Miracles happen because God steps in when we step down. Of course we co labor with Him but it’s not co laboring if we’re trying to do everything all by ourselves. We have to take all of our ‘already know everything’ and set it aside and let Him show us what He has in mind.

I don’t know about you but I can be fairly stubborn sometimes and don’t want to change. So when I’m changed, it is a miracle indeed.

Something as simple as our joy and trust in an invisible God is miraculous too. Yes, I am aware many have seen Him with their spiritual eyes but seeing God is not like seeing your spouse sitting right next to you. We don’t have to engage our imaginations for that. All we have to do is reach out our hands and we will feel them. With God it’s not like that and because that’s the case, the angels marvel that we can worship Him and have a relationship with Him without even seeing Him with our physical eyes. They are spirit beings and they interact with God all the time. It is a miracle to them that we can walk in faith for those things not yet seen and trust that God is faithful.

All of our lives are a picture of the miraculous. What may seem to us as every day, mundane stuff, to us is supernatural or miraculous to someone else.

We are not alone in this journey and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. But we have to allow Him to strengthen us; then the miraculous happens. Let’s expand our miracle box. All of our lives are a picture of the miraculous.

Encouragement – We all want it, heck, we all need it!

Encouragement – We all want it, heck, we all need it!

I’ve found that things are a little different in the kingdom than they are in the world. For instance, if I need something, I usually have to begin to give something away. If I need kindness, I need to be kind. It’s a kingdom of opposites in some ways.

What seems right to a man is death, (Prov. 16:25) Hmmm. I think this scripture may have something to do with the ‘kingdom-way’ of doing things. If I keep doing things only for me, me, me, all it will do is bring death. If I am so full of things or information and never give back or pour back out to others, I’m a virtual dead sea with no outlet. I’m dead.

So, when I need encouragement, I encourage. When I need wisdom, I first of all ask, but then I give the wisdom He’s given to me, to others seeking it too. God will always be faithful in giving to us what other’s need.

Encouragement is often like an affirmation. It’s the turbo boost we sometimes need at the very end of a project or season. When things seem like they couldn’t get any harder but still do, encouragement is the juice that will keep us contending for the breakthrough we know is just around the corner. It will cause us to stand up straighter and know that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

So, am I right; don’t we all need encouragement? I would challenge you to purpose your day to go out and find someone who needs exactly what you need and encourage them to not give up, to keep pressing until breakthrough comes. Tell them exactly what you need to hear, use the same exact words you are longing to hear yourself. You will be amazed how refreshed you will feel. Holy Spirit may even now be whispering to you some of the things you need to do or say to bring about this refreshing to others and vicariously for yourself.

I’ve done this before with great success. This is not a formula of course because we all need different things. But it can be a tool. One day when I was feeling pretty discouraged I went into the grocery store to pick up a few things. All I wanted to do was get what I needed as quickly as possible and then go home. When I got my things and approached one of the checkout lanes, I noticed that one of the cashiers was really looking down and discouraged. I knew that if spoke some encouragement to her and simply spoke blessings over her, she would be lifted up and maybe even begin to smile; she would be encouraged.

Of course that’s exactly what I did. I began by telling her what an awesome job she was doing and that immediately brought a smile to her face. I spoke other encouraging words over her and not only did her countenance change but so did everyone else who was standing in line behind me. By the time I left the store, which was really only a matter of ten minutes, I was encouraged myself! Win, win.

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The kingdom of God is here, living inside of each and every one of us. It’s not supposed to remain there. It’s supposed to be shared, transplanted in dark places or even in people who have no hope left. We have the answers to all they need. When we encourage others we are bringing light into their current darkness and isn’t that where light belongs, in the dark places? Aren’t we to be messengers of hope? I believe encouragement can be (and is) a great big doorway into bringing the kingdom to earth and transforming our neighborhoods and cities; one kind encouraging word at a time.

Let’s purpose to do this and if you do, come back and tell me about it; I will be greatly encouraged too!

So go! Get out there and encourage someone, right now, today!