Those of you who pray for God’s working through my speaking will be glad to know of one who had not only ears to hear, but a heart to obey. Here is a heart-warming testimony to the power of God and the rewards of obedience.
“Thank you for saving my marriage for good,” she begins (although she knows and I know Who saved it).
It seemed to me that my marriage of thirty-three years was really ending. There was no communication. I prepared to finish off what had not only ruined my life but also ruined my two boys of thirty and twenty-seven.
“Please heal my marriage,” I pleaded to God. Then one day I went to hear you speak. God told me through you, “Go and treat your husband as you would treat Jesus. Call him lord [see 1 Peter 3:6] and serve him.” I did not have anything to lose so I decided to try. I went home. He was still sitting in his chair like a mummy, not even blinking, watching TV. I hate that scene, but I controlled myself and very respectfully asked if I could talk for a moment. He immediately to my surprise switched the TV off and listened.
What do you do next if it’s Jesus you’re talking to? You ask forgiveness, right? So I did. I told him how un-understanding I was, how stupid I was, how wrong I was my whole life, and asked him for his forgiveness, even though he had decided not to continue our marriage.
Another surprise: he said he loved me and had always loved me and wanted to leave because he felt he was a burden to me and our family. Since he is not working and had been smoking and often drunk previously (he does not drink anymore), he said he feels inadequate himself and it has nothing to do with me. Then I told him how important it is for me to be with him, and to have him in the house for me and for the boys. Thus I understood how our communication was distorted because of our own distorted feelings about ourselves.
We are still the same people, but our home is based on God’s teachings and whenever I am angry with him and want to put him down I remember: how would I treat him if he were Jesus? My whole approach changes. My words are so different. I speak with love and respect. Do you know what? It’s more than one month, never happened before in thirtythree years, we did not fight! I do not have cramps ill my stomach when he opens his mouth to speak! I dearly love him, accept him as he is, and gladly do what he asks me to do. I listen and respect his ideas even though they are 180 degrees different from mine. I also have the courage to speak my ideas, but try to say them in a way that will not offend him (hard work, but worth it).
Elisabeth, there is such a peace in my house that I never, never had. This house was built by Jesus and it will stand forever. I thank God for everything.
I do not try to hurt my husband, but I am not always successful. So I tell him I am sorry the same day, just as the Bible teaches. I also talk about my hurts with him, and we solve them the same day. Oh, how it works well! My only regret is that I did not know it sooner. God has promised to restore my past and I trust He will. I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. May God bless you and your ministry.
Three months after she had written this letter I called to ask permission to quote her. She granted it at once, and added, “Oh Elisabeth! I have so much love for my husband now! I hated him. Every time he went out the door I hoped he would be killed. Now we have a wonderful marriage.” After I had told this story in a meeting a radiant woman came to tell me she had almost the identical experience. Thirty-three years of marriage, and she had actually asked God to kill her husband. “But now–what a difference!”
“Love … does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people …
“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen” (From 1 Cor 13, J.B. Phillips).
**Excerpt originally published in the May/June 1995 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.