Every month at EMB we hear stories of marriages that appear to be over. Some of them are in the latter stages of being over, technically speaking. Papers have been filed, separation arrangements made and conversations regarding the division of assets have ensued. We know that many guys get to EMB via ultimatum; their wives have finally had enough and won’t settle any longer so they insist their husbands attend. I think some men, while they outwardly express reluctance to attend, secretly are thankful for their wives insistence. It’s the nudge they need to take action against this struggle.
After the workshop we see men with renewed commitments to win back their wives. They are willing to do the difficult work of full disclosure and humble, servant leadership. Guys often realize the treasure they have in the woman they’ve seen as the enemy. In one recent conversation between an attendee, 2 staff counselors and myself the attendee recounted how his divorce will be final in less than a month. He described how certain his wife is that he’ll never change and how futile the effort to work at the relationship. He even admitted that to this point her efforts were futile, because he was unwilling to change. One of the counselors looked at him and said, “the story isn’t over til it’s over”. Quickly the other counselor chimed in and talked of two couples he’s aware of that divorced and recently came back together. The attendee basically wouldn’t hear it. He was so convinced that it’s over he couldn’t hear the hope in what the counselors were saying. He was, in effect, saying that his relationship is beyond what God is capable of.
I urge you not to lose sight of hope. If you’re in that place where the marriage is over and you or your spouse has cashed it in, please at least leave open the possibility that things may change. God may intervene and when He does, hearts get softened and reconciliation is possible. Remember, with God, the story isn’t over til it’s over.
Recently we remembered the 10 year anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is something of a solemn day. When I turned on the TV that morning almost every channel was talking about the local and national events marking the memorial services of the day. I was at the airport and there was a lull or hush in the people there. The usual bustling hum of travelers was subdued. The day is now one of remembrance paired with a tangible acknowledgment of the reality that another attack could occur. But there is also a celebratory element. Each TV channel speaks of the memorial services and also of the praise and thankfulness for the volunteers and emergency workers. There are tears of joy regarding the stories of hope and triumph from those connected to the events of 9/11.
I think that day evidences an appropriate way for us to remember what God has done for us with respect to sexual integrity issues. We should remember that he showed up for us at some point along the way and at any moment we could slip back into sin. Some people might say that God has not shown up since the struggle is still very real and present. That is certainly how I felt in my addiction; like God would never show up. But the truth is he was there more than I realized. Some days I didn’t act out and in hindsight I can see it was only by God’s sovereign intervention that I didn’t. That’s how it is for me today too. I realize that He keeps showing up, but at any moment I could choose to go right back into my addiction. We would do well to remember, with an air of solemnity, where we’ve come from and the sin we’ve fallen to. And we would also do well to celebrate the victories and God’s goodness in our lives. We should celebrate the hope we have and the fact that the past doesn’t have the right to define us.
Remember, you are more than the sum total of your bad behavior. God has and will show up.