Some things in life are best described as “counter-intuitive.” For example, Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:24).
Give up your life in order to live? That sounded like a lot of nonsense to His hearers until He defined His terms. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (v. 25). Astute listeners recognized that Jesus wasn’t asking for ritual suicide or foolhardy martyrdom. He was describing His Father’s life-exchange program. He said, in effect, “Stop your futile pursuit of life on your own terms, which inevitably leads to eternal death; accept in exchange a brand-new kind of life from Me, which can never end.”
Sometimes, a marriage has to come to a kind of death before it can really begin living. Sometimes, a failing marriage brings a couple to a crisis point at which the Lord offers His marriage-exchange program: “Stop trying to make this marriage work on your own terms, and accept in exchange a brand-new marriage made by Me.”
Unfortunately, many couples rush to the courthouse to sign the marital death certificate (otherwise known as a “decree of divorce”) and then pull the plug while the potential for recovery still exists. Then, after they’ve had time to rest, deal with their own personal issues (hopefully, but not always), reflect on their own contributions to the breakdown of the union, and face the future, they wonder if perhaps they acted too hastily. But, by then, the pain inflicted on one another during the divorce process overshadows any hope of restoration, so they console themselves with a solemn oath to do better next time.
Divorce recovery experts will affirm that a major obstacle to moving forward is a nagging sense of doubt about the past, compulsive second-guessing, reconciling the present with the possibility that past decisions were made impulsively or under duress.
Once Charlene decided to break away from her abusive husband, she began a healing process under the guidance of her divorce recovery group.
This study at a local church became a catalyst for deeper healing, which helped me to humble myself and go to my husband and apologize for how I had participated in the destruction of our marriage. Something broke inside of both of us through this process. I had been rejected since birth. He had been abandoned by an absentee father at an early age. Amazing that we had these issues staring us in the face for so many years after conversion. We needed healing. I took a strong stand for myself—a cry for help—that became God’s intervention . . . for both of us. We are different people as a result of this journey of healing.”
Charlene and her husband are now in the process of reconciling and restoring their marriage. Not merely “getting back together,” but building again on a whole new foundation. They have long way to go and a lot of work to do. Rebuilding trust is a difficult, sometimes perilous journey, and they are not assured of success. Regardless, their separation gave them an opportunity to turn hopelessness into a bright, hopeful future.
Their story illustrates the great potential we have to join the Lord in His work of reconciling and restoring dysfunctional marriages. We have an opportunity to become agents of His marriage-exchange program. Imagine the impact if someone approached Charlene and/or her husband with the following offer: “If you will agree to a structured separation, complete with court-enforced ground rules, a reasonable cooling off period, and individual counseling, we will provide legal services at a substantial discount.”
This is the vision of Redemptive Heart Ministries. We need your prayers and your encouragement as we are blazing a new trail into uncharted territory. We also need your tangible support. Anything you can provide, however small it may seem to you, will be greatly appreciated and used wisely.
Will you join us?