by Pastor Tim Burt
Renee and I are deeply in love and have a wonderful marriage. It wasn't always that way.
I remember a time early on in our marriage. One morning I was praying to the Lord about His faithfulness. I was praying these words, Lord, you are faithful and so full of love! You have never stopped loving us even though we have not treated you with the love you have faithfully shown us. Jesus, thank you for leaving Heaven, being born into this defiled world, living a sinless life, dying a sinner's death to pay for the punishment for my sins, and doing all this when I was so self-absorbed, I wasn't even thinking about you. You loved us even when we didn't treat you right and didn't love you back. As soon as I said those words, God used them to speak back to me concerning my marriage. "Yes I did love you when you weren't loving me back." The first years of our marriage were full of highs and lows. This conversation with God was going on at a time when we were at an all-time low. I know we were both feeling like we didn't love or like each other anymore. I knew the Lord was ministering to me about the marital issues Renee and I had been having at that time. I knew He wanted me to love Renee with that kind of faithful love I just declared the Lord had shown toward us.
I was exhausted trying to make our marriage work the way I felt it should work. We were selfish and prideful. We were immature and still needing to learn what real love—God's kind of love was. We constantly butted heads. We were both always trying to defend our position and make each other conform to what we wanted. Each of us was bent on being right. Now the Lord was speaking to me about laying down everything I felt I had to make a stand on to be a man.
The Lord was speaking to me about loving her the way she wanted to be loved. I wanted our marriage to be forever. I wanted to love Renee, and I wanted our marriage to work. Because of what the Lord spoke to my heart, I went to her and asked her to tell me everything she needed me to do that would help her feel better about our relationship. I told her to let me know of EVERYTHING that I did that bugged her and the things she thought would help turn our marriage around. It wasn't easy. Actually it was painful because I wanted to defend myself while she was talking. I felt that some of what she saying were her issues. Regardless, because I kept thinking about the Lord's faithful love, I kept my mouth shut (a miracle in itself.) This was no time to split hairs. I was going to do whatever it took to help turn things around.
It's funny but it didn't take that long to turn things around. The arguments began to stop and some of the word wounds we'd both left from previous verbal attacks began to heal. We both became less touchy about things. I continued to go out of my way to be kind to her. It wasn't long before she saw the sincere effort I was making and kicked in with a renewed diligent effort of her own.
With both of us working at it, the results were nothing less than miraculous! We liked AND loved each other again! We were both amazed at how things did such a complete turn in just a few months. Our marriage suddenly felt awesome. God was so gracious to speak those simple words that carried so much power—Yes I did love you when you weren't loving me back.
From that time forward, we made the determined choice to be careful in how we talked to each other. I no longer poked fun at her in public embarrassing her. I worked to stop and look at her when she was talking to me. She became more considerate at her timing in our conversations. There was a multitude of ways we communicated better—especially in being kind in our attitudes. Since that time, we have made kind and considerate communication our top priority. We value our marriage more than anything except our relationship with the Lord. Plus, we felt we had to be this way if we wanted to be the light and influence we knew God wanted us to be.
I have told you this because life is full times where you are called to do the right thing whether you have the emotional impetus to do it or not. We are to be led by faith in what God instructs us, not be feelings. That's what Jesus did. He loved us when we did not love Him back! When the Bible says, "We live by faith, not by sight," (2 Cor 5:7) this is what it is talking about. There are times where we have to get our emotions or the circumstances that we face out of the picture and master our decisions and actions by what we know God wants us to do. Romans 12:17 (NLT) says, "Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable."
When we do what's right and honorable whether we feel like it or not, God can bless us in ways that we would have never imagined. Jesus knows this kind of sacrifice. He lived it all His earthly life. Remember it was He who said, "Father, if it is possible, please let this cup pass from me." Sometimes there are things we just need to do because of what God wants us to do whether we feel like it or not. Be blessed because you become a doer of what is right and good despite how you feel!
Matthew 19:26 (NKJV) "But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt