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Monday, July 07, 2008

A True Wife and the Persecuted Church

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.


MInTheGap said...

This is amazing, Jennifer-- and so right on target. It's easy to live the Christian life when things are going well, and when life is easy.

It's like Job-- he had it all, and then it was all taken from him. Yet he did not sin. What an amazing testimony!

I've been in few situations where people are in hard situations and the word of God has not been easy in those situations. They call you to sacrifice self, and that's definitely un-American. It calls us to love others even when they hurt us, but that's not something that we want to do so we opt out.

We opt out of marriage, we opt out of a church, we opt out of anything that would cost us something-- and then we think (on top of all that) that we are the ones right before the Lord.


The Houstons said...

oh how I think about our courage as Christians like that all the time...and about how easy it is for me to be a submissive respectful and loving wife to a husband who seeks the Lord. This kinda makes me feel silly, but I started reading this series by Francine Rivers, The Mark of the Lion series...and I have just read the first one ...and wow...I think about Christians being persecuted a lot more. And just like you said, I'm a huge wimp too. I tried to envision what I would be like if I were living in the time where they put Christians into the arena to be eaten alive by lions...wow! How would my faith stand then?
Yeah, and sometimes I get scared just to speak up about something just because I might get made fun of? or thought of badly? Pathetic...just pathetic sometimes!

Just loved reading your blog on this one...loved it.
My heart is so very burdened for women here in Germany...who never had the opportunity I did to go through yours and Rusty's class...who have never experienced a true body of Believers...who don't know what a Godly wife looks like...it really breaks my heart. I wish I could take them and teach them everything I learned from being at Living Hope, Count Down etc...
So, over much prayer and discussion with Jon...Im going to start a wives Bible Study...
Any advice or wisdom you can pass along to me about starting it would be amazing. I always revert back to the Godly examples of you and Rusty and other amazing couples we got to know during our time in College Station.
Your post just really reminded me of how much I miss being surrounded by so much wisdom and transparency:) Thanks Jenn...
We miss all of you guys dearly!

kellie myers said...

I enjoyed reading that. I am always so inspiried by women who are obedient when obedience is not the easiest route. I really struggle with living by my feelings and it is hard to keep on keepin' on at times, doing what the Lord calls you to do as a wife, when you feel like you are running into a brick wall. You know the world wants you to be self-suffient, strong, dependent but the Lord tells us we are only IN this world not OF it. Thanks Jenn for your obedience!

Pop Pop said...

As always, I am amazed at the Holy Spirit inspired wisdom that flows from your heart and life experience. You are carrying on the great legacy of being a role model of a wife and mother that your mother has passed on to you. No Dad could be more proud of his daughter than I am of you.
All my love,