I will never forget that Sunday at church. It was a little over five years ago, yet it seems like yesterday. It was a day when two words moved me deeply, two words that made every tear I had ever cried worth while.
I was standing in front of the pew singing and worshiping the Lord. It was a holy atmosphere. The music was loud and the songs flowed seamlessly one to another. At times I stood there with my eyes closed as I embraced the Lord’s presence. Other times when my eyes were open I could see people all around me worshiping the Lord in their on way.
As my eyes scanned around at all the people I was sharing this experience with, I looked up and behind the worship team was the choir. There in the choir was my wife Janet. She was singing her heart out with her hands lifted up, caught up in the presence of the Lord. And I knew she loved every second of it.
In that moment tears began to fill my eyes as I thought how wonderful it was to see my wife doing what she loved to do, doing what she was meant to do. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to see my wife worshiping the Lord, knowing there was a time when I worried I would never see it again. And in a flash my mind raced through some of the things we had been through and how the Lord had saved our marriage.
When our marriage was over for the fourth and final time, I didn’t know for sure it could ever be saved. I had my doubts that my wife could ever be pulled away from the trap she had become so entangled with. Her mind was made up, her heart was set. In that place of misery she felt in our marriage she needed a way of escape. She wanted a different life. She wanted what she had denied herself before, the life she could have been living with another man.
This was not just another man, for her he was the one. The one person who had captured her heart in a way it had never been captured before. He was the one she had wanted to be with, eight years earlier, when our marriage was in trouble for the third time. She had walked away from him then, but she couldn’t stop the feeling she had given up her one shot at being happy. She was not willing to give him up this time even if it meant turning her back on God.
It’s not that she wanted to walk away from God. It’s just that she believed she would have to in order to have what she wanted. She knew the Lord would not approve of where she was going, but she also knew that she had tried every way she knew to shut down her feelings and it just didn’t work. She had lived with the torment of those feelings for eight long years.
Standing in the gap
Ironically though, it was the snare she was in that moved me to fight for my marriage. If she had simply wanted out because the fighting was too much to bear, then maybe I could have let her go, believing it was for the best.
But, because she was willing to go in a direction that could cost her everything, I was afraid to let that happen. I loved her too much to see her destroy her life. I knew this other relationship was an illusion, a deception from the enemy and when reality set in, she would be more miserable than she had ever been. And I worried how she would survive from that point. I worried if she would ever find her way back to the Lord.
So, I knew it was God who inspired me to fight through the pain and through the tears to save my marriage. There were many times I wanted to give up, but that call in my heart would not let me. As I would get alone with God I always found myself confirming my commitment that it was not about me, all of this was for His glory. Because I wasn’t just fighting to save a marriage, I was fighting to save my wife.
Then as I stood there in that moment of worship and as all of this flashed through my mind and thankfulness filled my heart to see my wife up there in the choir worshiping the Lord, I heard the Lord speak something very clearly to me. It was something I had never expected to hear from Him. It was just two words, but it was two words that made every tear I cried worth while. I heard the Lord say “thank you.”
Then as tears were streaming down my face, I knew immediately what He meant. He was thanking me for being the vessel He needed to save His daughter. He was thanking me for not giving up, for seeing her beyond her sin and understanding how broken she was from all the things that had happened in her life. He was thanking me because I was not the only one glad to see her up there worshiping, it was what He had always wanted to see also. It was the most wonderful thing I have ever heard Him say.
Even now, I’m overcome with joy to know that my heavenly Father would thank me for anything. But as I have thought about it these last five years, I’m not as surprised as I once was. After all, His very nature is loving and kind and so it would be natural for Him to express His appreciation for something that pleases Him.
And if He wants to do a work in the earth, if He wants to touch people’s lives, He is going to use people like you and me. When we are surrendered to Him and we allow His will to be done through us, we get to look forward to hearing Him say those two wonderful words, “thank you.”
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