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Before You Leave

A friend of mine who worked third shift called me just a few minutes after 8:00 AM.  He had come home from working his eight hours just as he had for years, parked his car, grabbed his lunch pail and then opened the door.  It was then he was greeted with the shock of his life.  Most of the furniture was missing, his family’s closets were empty and worst of all…his wife, his children and even the family pet were gone.  Gone!

In one night, one eight-hour shift, she had packed up all the furniture, the clothes, personal items, photographs, everything…except for a chair, a bed and his clothes.  All of it was gone.  He knew that they had had some problems, but they didn’t seem insurmountable to him – nothing that a few conversations and a few changes wouldn’t clear up.  Now this…lock, stock and barrel his wife, and his life were gone and gone forever!

Perhaps if she had called the night before, the week before, the month before, if she had only called before she left, maybe, just maybe, this huge breach in the warp and woof of their lives could have been avoided.  But if she had called, if she had given me, her pastor, one last opportunity to speak to her, what would I say, what could I say?  This is a hard question, and I have pondered it many times and asked a thousand ‘what ifs?’  I’m not sure what I would have said then, but now, twenty years later, I know, and I would like to share it with every man or woman who is thinking about calling it quits.  I would like to share it with you.

So, just before you leave, please take just five minutes and read what I have to say.

Whether you choose to stay in your marriage or walk away, you are in for the most difficult and perhaps terrifying time of your life.  When you stood before that pastor or justice of the peace, you never thought it would ever come to this.  But here you are – a life filled with broken promises and shattered dreams, emotional hurts, indescribable loneliness.  Every day for the past few weeks or months, you have been on your own, you have just survived.  Survived?  Maybe we could call it that, but when we talk about ‘survival’ there is supposed to be a sense of relief – I made it!  You’re not there yet.  For you, the storm has been roaring, and there is no relief in sight.  Or you might be one who is past feeling, past crying, past hoping – you’re numb.  So, today, like every other day in the recent past, you simply move mechanically from one responsibility to another without any emotion and tonight or early morning when you can’t take today any longer, you fall into a restless sleep wondering.  Wondering if tomorrow will be any different.

I would never tell you I know how you feel, but I’ve spoken with enough in your situation that I think what I’ve described is pretty close to what you’re going through.  So, what’s the use?  Please listen…

  1. If you choose to end this marriage or choose to save it, you will be entering a battle.  Either way, the risks are high and the emotional, physical and spiritual energy expended will be high.  But here’s the kicker:  if you choose to end it, you will be on your own.  You cannot expect anyone to help you.  And you can expect that God will hinder you for the ‘way of transgressors is hard!’, Proverbs 13:15.  But, if you choose to work on your marriage, you can expect God will help you.  It will be hard, but you can do what is required to be done, because ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’, Philippians 4:13.
  2. If you choose to walk away from your marriage understand this, there is a domino effect.  This decision will affect your relationship with God, the lives of your children, your parents, your in-laws, your friends and the Body of Christ – for when one member is hurting the whole Body is hurting. 1 Corinthians 12:26.
  3. If you choose to walk away from your marriage, you will be communicating to your children and others that God is not ‘big enough’ to deal with this kind of problem.  Besides not being true, if you choose to work on your marriage you will be communicating to your children that you serve a ‘big God’ Who can not only calm the storms of the sea, He can calm the storms of life.
  4. If you choose to save your marriage, you will have all the resources of God at your disposal: His Word, His Spirit, His presence, His ministers, His church.  God has formed an army to destroy the works of the devil in your life, and it is at His command to act today!

Friend, you have invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in this marriage, I plead with you to allow God to help.  I know your husband, your wife, is culpable for his or her actions.  I also know that it will be worth it all, and by the grace of God, you can have a home, a marriage, that will bring you happiness again and glory to God.  And if sadly the marriage fails, you will know and can face Christ with confidence that you did all you could, all He asked of you.  You can still hear, ‘Well, done.’, from His voice.

A middle-aged man sat across my desk and with tears in his eyes and a quiver in his voice he said, “She’s planning on leaving me.  She’s taking the kids, and she’s moving to her mother’s, just as soon as she can.  I don’t know what to do.”   My five minutes with you is almost over, but let me tell you this.  She was ready to call it quits.  In her mind, she had already packed.  But God…  She gave her husband and God time to work on the drastic changes that man needed to make and then…as she saw her husband change, she got a little hope.  Their marriage didn’t change overnight but over a few weeks what a transformation!  Their marriage isn’t the same as it was years ago…it’s better!  And yours can be, too.  Please, let the Body of Christ help.