On the first Sunday in January, over thirty years ago, our marriage was a mess. I had disobeyed God and turned my back on anything church-related—until one Sunday morning when I’d had enough. I knew Jesus was the only answer.
“You can lay there if you want…” spewed out my mouth, “…but I’m going to church!” My husband rolled over and looked at me. “If you’ll wait, I’ll go with you.”
One amazing thing about our God is that if you take one step toward Him, even with a flawed spirit, you’ll find His arms open wide. And that morning, unbeknownst to us, God’s arms were open and ready to begin major reconstruction in our home.
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1. Honesty with God is the Key that Opens Doors
During the years preceding that Sunday morning moment, I’d concocted a detailed list of my husband’s faults, sins, and short-comings, but refused to consider that mine played any part in the problem.
We arrived to find our church of choice beginning a revival, and a single sentence spoken by the visiting preacher struck the target in my heart: “God elected your husband to be the head of your home. Your job is to duck, so God can hit your husband with the bullets.” But God, shouldn’t I be pointing out what he’s not doing right?
The silence was deafening. But during the next few days, God’s truth seeped deep into my heart. When I focused on my husband’s wrongdoings, I failed to acknowledge and deal with my own. God’s finger probed the clogged corners of my heart and brought me to acknowledge and confess my sins.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
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2. Pray Earnestly for Your Husband and His Needs
During those days of revival, I turned, repented, and made following Jesus a priority. My husband’s spiritual barometer leveled out with Whew, thank goodness, this crisis is over. He went to church most Sundays, tolerating, but not truly interested in being there.
I enrolled in a Bible study group, made new friends, and griped to God about my husband’s attitude. One morning at Bible study, I commented to our leader—“I sure wish my husband was like your husband.” Without missing a beat, she stepped closer and looked straight into my eyes. “Do you pray for your husband and his needs?” Pray for his needs? God, haven’t I prayed for him?
In the quietness of my heart, I heard…No, you pray for him to be what you want him to be. Your prayers should be focused on what I intend for him to be. You should be seeking to understand his needs.
“But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting…” (James 1:5-6 NIV).
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3. Encourage Your Husband to Pray with You Each Day
A knot the size of a lemon developed in my throat the night I slipped into bed and asked, “Could we talk to God together tonight?” I held my breath in the darkness. “Sure,” he said, “You pray first.”
I wish I could remember what I prayed those first times, or does that matter? By the time I said “Amen,” his steady snores filled the room and my sanctimonious self became agitated. But in spite of my attitude that night, God began remodeling yet another area in our marriage—my ability to do what God asked, and trust Him.
When the first corporate downsizing came, hubs took a giant step forward in his prayer life, and so did I. Today, after job losses, the death of an adult daughter, health issues, and retirement, we pray each morning and each evening together. There is no greater comfort than hearing him pray for me, and I for him as I ask God to meet his needs as He directed so long ago.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV).
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4. Prioritize Learning and Living Out God's Word in Your Life
God blessed me with a mother who insisted I commit God’s Word to memory, and she also taught me to tithe. One Sunday morning while riding to church, I asked my husband, “Have you written our tithe check?” Another one of those quiet moments you could’ve heard that pin. “Well, let me put it this way…” he glanced in my direction and gripped the steering wheel, “...We can either tithe or eat this week. You choose.”
I gulped a quick Help me Jesus prayer. “I hope tithe.” Obviously not the answer he expected, he responded, “Fine. We’ll starve.” But when we returned from church, there were numerous messages on our answerering machine offering sub-contracting work for me that week. We tithed and God provided the groceries!
Years later in another especially difficult time, my husband made the tithing decision himself, reminding me that he was convinced because I chose obedience and God provided on that morning so long ago.
“…rather, let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4 NKJV).
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5. Be Faithful to Speak God's Words, Not Your Words
Years ago, our pastor’s wife made the comment, “My husband’s the head of our home, but I’m the neck that turns the head.” Being young and stupid, I thought she was so with the early women’s rights movement. Silly me.
She explained that the neck supports the head. A healthy neck allows the head to pivot, view surrounding conditions, and make accurate decisions. But if the neck is distorted or disabled and can’t turn, the head is impaired—deprived of information necessary in making wise choices. Do you know wives who are proverbial pains in their husband’s neck? Mama always said, sometimes your actions speak so loud I can’t hear what you’re sayin’.
God called us to be support systems for our husbands as they lead the family, and we can only fulfill that job when we transmit God’s counsel to him. Ours is a weighty task, ladies. We are piers meant to undergird our husband’s authority. Each one of us has watched women who refuse to be that prayerful, quiet support; women who witness their houses splinter and fall.
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives…” (1 Peter 3:1 NKJV).
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6. God's Blueprint is Etched into the Shape of Your Hand
One of Satan’s slickest tricks entices us to feel important and invincible, ladies. We love to be needed. The enemy whispers, what better place to fulfill your needs? Church—right? You go, girl! So, you’re there every time the doors open. But if you have a family, that comes before church work during this season in your life.
God created seasons and He appoints seasons in your life. When you have a husband and a family who need the Lord, they are your season. And your hand is the reminder of your priority. Your thumb represents God, which your other fingers won’t work without.
Your index finger represents your spouse. God, you, and your spouse are a functioning team. The middle finger represents the place God assigned your children. The other digits represent employment, entertainment, church work, and life. If you could rearrange your fingers, you would have created a non-functioning mess. And that’s where many people find themselves today—attempting to establish their lives outside of God’s order.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV).
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7. Trust God—He's Always on Time
I wish I could tell you our journey has been easy-peasy from that Sunday morning in January so many years ago, but times have often been rough. I’ve cried out, why God? more times than I care to recount, or when God—when will you work in my husband’s life? There have been moments I’ve wondered, where are You, God?
From the other side of the problem I know He was with me—with us—even though I didn’t feel His presence. My feelings are fickle, and so are yours. One minute I’m up, the other down, the next somewhere in between. But He is faithful and trustworthy. He has never failed me, nor will He fail you when you ask Him and are obedient to His Word.
He is The Beginning and End of all things. He doesn’t view time as we do; God is outside of time. Do I understand that? No…but there have been a few times along the way He has given me those moments. If you’re listening for the voice of His Spirit, He will encourage you too.
“And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” (Romans 8:26 NIV).
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8. Watch for Those Giant Steps Forward and Give Thanks
After the death of our daughter sixteen years ago, we often drove to Kansas City and back with the grandchildren. One particular afternoon, we were returning to Dallas with our three-year-old grandson, Noah. It was raining, and in the distance we saw a rainbow. I was in the backseat explaining his namesake to him.
My husband shouted, “Sit back. Relax. Hold on to Noah!” I glanced to the rear and saw the slick highway with an eighteen-wheeler bearing down on us. Traffic in front of us had stopped. I gasped, “Oh God, help us.”
Suddenly we were enveloped in a glorious, golden, sparkling light. A peace I cannot describe separated us—from everything. There were no squealing brakes, no crashes, nothing. Just peace. Then it was gone. Everyone had stopped, unharmed. We began to move and drove for a mile or so before I whispered, “What did you see back there?” Dick’s eyes were still the size of saucers. “You tell me first.” We had seen the exact same thing, and Dick’s faith took a giant step forward—as did mine.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).
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9. Develop Friendships with Folks Heading for Heaven
More often than not, a wife is the family social director and friendships are instigated and developed through her efforts. So sweet ladies, develop friendships with church family outside the church. Your husband will be more apt to be open and interested to attend if he knows the others who will be there.
Invite families with your interests—children, beliefs, goals—to your home for a pot luck or barbeque. Schedule recreational family outings with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Build an everyday-life-connection between those with whom you worship and your family. After all, we’re going to spend eternity together, so why not begin now? And your husband will be more comfortable in the pew with those he gets to know in his own home.
“A friend loveth at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17 NKJV).
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10. Remaining Home with Him on Sunday isn't the Answer
Go to worship and take your children with you—with or without him. We enter the Kingdom one by one. Not in groups, nor by couples. If you’re not sold on your need for corporate worship, how will you convince your mate to join you? If you sit home, both your relationships with God and with each other will suffer. Your husband is watching your actions and reactions. Like my mama said, those actions speak louder than your words.
This past April, after years of working hard to support our family, God placed Dick in the position of having to choose retirement or death. For a man who had worked all his life, retirement was an albatross by another name.
But this man for whom God loves so much He gave His Only Son, is learning that there is life after retirement. He joined our weekly Precept Bible Study and God is answering my years of praying The LORD would develop in him a hunger for His Word. Dick is reveling in the glory of God’s Word. Yes, ladies, it’s a commitment. It is a long and sometimes difficult journey, but I can assure you that the reward today far surpasses the energy, time, and self-control God gives when you invest in the eternal soul of your husband.
“Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11 NKJV).
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Originally published Monday, 16 September 2019.