The next couple of weeks stretched out in silence. I sensed the tension growing but was not wanting to start a fire, so I measured my words with care.
On July 1 I went to a meeting leaving Mike and Sarah at home. Later I discovered they’d spent two hours discussing life, fears, divorce, and church. It wasn’t until the next day conversation about all this ensued.
It began with a question. I asked Mike if he’s like to go to the July 4th church barbecue. “No, I don’t want to end up in jail. If I saw your pastor, I don’t think I could control my impulse to hit him.”
Then Mike turned to me and said, “When are we going to find you an apartment closer to the church? Sarah is concerned about school, and I think you need to be settled before school starts.”
My stomach turned. This was the crisis, the confrontation. Help me know what to say, Father. “What are you saying?” I asked.
He repeated himself. , “When are we going to find you an apartment closer to the church?”
“Are you asking me for a divorce or separation or what?” I asked.
“I can’t go on with all this tension. I’d rather live alone than like we are,” he said.
Taking a breath and doing my best to quell the storm that raged within, I responded. “I am not interested in moving closer to the church and have no intention of leaving you. I love you. I am only doing what I believe God wants me to do.”
Peace filtered by droplets into the room and tension eased. “Well, I feel we need to both stay home on the 4th and worship as a family,” Mike said. “We need to cast the evil spirits out of this house. I know they are here.”
We decided to stay home from the service on Wednesday. Mike asked me to look up some scriptures on family, unity and pick out some music.
I wasn’t sure of his motives, so I said, “I’m concerned about the scriptures you asked me to find. I don’t want our worship to end with beating each other up with the law. We know our weaknesses.”
“Find some on praise, love and such,” he said. “That will be fine.” Then he went on to explain his concept of the service. “It will be a time of confession, asking forgiveness, and removing the evil spirits from our home.” Turning to look me in the eye, he said, “There’s something I want to say now. I want to apologize for nearly worshiping you for the first half of our marriage. I made it hard for you to live up to my image of you. I also want to apologize for putting you down so low to you and other people in the last six years. There wasn’t any way for you to be okay.”
I fought to hold back the tears, but they flowed unhindered. “I forgive you,” I said. We hugged and cried together. God was healing.
That night I was praying and picking out scriptures until one in the morning.
July 4th came. We barbecued hamburgers, and I made a big potato salad. Sarah made table decorations, and we got ready for a special evening.
One of the scriptures I picked out was 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, the love chapter. I had Sarah read it out of the Living Bible:
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Mike asked us to pray, so we all knelt on the floor, and Mike led in tears. “God, teach me how to love. I don’t do any of the things Sarah just read. Help me Lord.”
Sarah and I prayed and we all returned to our chairs.
“Is there anything else before we close?” Mike asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ve spent the last three days asking God to show me anything I needed to confess to you or ask your forgiveness. Honestly, Mike, I’ve already confessed everything. You know as much about my sin as I do. I have nothing more to tell you. God’s impressed me, however, with my need to take responsibility for something and ask your forgiveness.
“Mike, please forgive me for bringing into our marriage the thought that I would leave. I have lots of excuses, but it’s my fault, and I’m sorry.” Tears welled up again. “Will you forgive me?”
“I’d love to forgive you,” he said. We were in each others arms weeping.
Mike asked me to offer the closing prayer, which I did. Then we all went out for ice cream.
We didn’t have any fireworks or sparklers on that Fourth of July. The fire that was present was more spectacular than any display in the sky. Abba, Jesus, and Holy Spirit came to our house on the Fourth of July and declared independence in a brand-new way.
~~ How About You? ~~
When the accuser comes through those you love the most, it is hard not to retaliate with sharp words of defense and cruelty. I was guilty of that in the past and did not want to do a replay.
God’s Word says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Anger was already brewing.
We don’t need to defend ourselves. God says in Isaiah 54 that everyone who condemns you will be proven wrong.
I didn’t want to prove anything. I just wanted to heal what the enemy had deposited to wound.
James 3:5-6 puts it this way, “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell.”
If you are guilty of starting a fire with your words, repent and choose to turn and look at the One who bore all of your accusations. Our Savior, was without sin and of all people could have said a mouthful. Instead, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” was His response. Thus, we too can speak the truth in love. It’s a choice, and it does tend to dampen the fireworks and usher in His cleansing fire of love.