I got to reconnect with an old friend this weekend. It was so great! I remembered all the reasons we were friends in the first place, long before we were "grown-ups" and Moms. She and I were friends, dating back to about 1992. We ended up getting married six years later in the same summer, singing in each other's weddings, having our first few babies at the same time, and it seemed our lives were taking the exact same paths. Both of us married believers, Christian leaders, that promised to love us as Christ loved the church, and lead us to Him.
But that's not how it turned out for her. I don't want to tell her whole story. It's not mine to tell. But in short, her marriage deteriorated, she was betrayed in the worst possible way, and she was left to be a single mother in the end.
In talking with her this weekend, she was sharing with me what it was like to be a wife in a hurting, struggling marriage.
She told me that even her ex-husband would attest to the fact that she was the best wife of their entire marriage in the last three years, when it was the hardest.
She fully understood something that I teach semester after semester to college and engaged girls about being a wife...that submitting to, following, and loving our husband is an act of obedience and worship to the Lord, not to our husband.
She loved him purely out of choice, as she put it.
She loved him when she got nothing but hurt in return.
She served him when he was unworthy of her service.
She followed him when his leading was foolish.
I sat there, realizing, this now unmarried woman knows so much more about being a wife than this happily married woman. She has put real feet to what I teach and know to be true about our callings as wives.
I know that loving and following and submitting to Rusty is as unto the Lord. Rusty's not perfect. But I have to admit...he's made it pretty easy for me. I don't know what it's like to love Rusty and not feel loved by him.
He's totally smitten with me for some reason, and always lets me know it.
I don't know what it's like to follow Rusty when he's leading with a disregard for Godly wisdom.
Do I need to say again? He's not perfect. I'm not perfect. Our marriage isn't perfect.
But it's happy. It's healthy. And we strive to honor God in it.
So I have such great respect for the wives I know who are honoring God in this situation.
Would I be the same wife if those were my circumstances? I honestly don't know. I kind of doubt it.
Yet I can't imagine the spiritual growth that took place for her during those years.
I felt like this was such a parallel to being a Christian in America versus living the Christian life under persecution.
I love that our church prays for specific persecuted believers around the world during our prayer hour before services. If you're interested in how to do this, go to www.persecution.com, and hear "the voice of the martyrs." Real people living under horrific persecution, beyond our imagination, today, right now. Beaten, loved ones taken from them, imprisoned (and not in cush American prisons), and even killed. Husbands. Pastors. Mothers. Children. This is so far from our reality, it's hard to imagine.
We've been studying the life of Stephen in Acts at church as well.
Talking about persecution makes me uncomfortable. I don't like it.
It makes me a little fearful. Because we don't even understand what it is here in America. Persecution to us is being made fun of! How ridiculous is that?
The Bible says we WILL endure persecution, and it may very well come looking for us here in America someday.
I'm going to be honest. I'm a wimp. I hope not to be alive in that day.
But we know that persecution grew and fostered incredible growth in the church in Bible times.
We know that persecution is as real as ever in parts of Asia today, and the church is spreading like wildfire. The church doesn't grow in spite of persecution, I think it might grow because of it.
What kind of a REAL Christian would you have to be?
Would I be the same kind of Christian that I am today?
It's so convicting, I don't even know what to do with it.
I pray God would made me faithful in all these regards. Without Him, I can't be.
Thankfully, we're never left to do anything on our own.