Christian Walk, Faithfulness, Marriage

God’s Goodness

Our lives are often viewed with the wrong perspective. We dwell on the things we don’t have instead of being grateful for the things given to us. Looking back in Genesis, Adam and Eve did the same thing. They fixated on the tree’s fruit they could not eat paying no attention to the bountiful forest right in front of them. The serpent easily persuaded them because they began to doubt God’s promises for their lives and lost perspective.

How often does this happen in our marriages? Something or someone captures our attention and we get easily distracted. We look to our friends and family to see what they have and where we may be lacking. Maybe we even get caught up in the world of social media and start playing the comparison game in our hearts and minds. Before we know it, we are coveting our neighbors and wishing for a life other than our own.

This may destroy more marriages quicker than anything else. When doubting God’s goodness, it is likely we have raised our problems as our highest reality rather than God’s Word. In such cases, a change of perspective is needed so we may view our problems through the lens of scripture. We need to be mindful that Satan still uses the same tactics he used with Adam and Eve, he just repackages the lie and delivers it by a different messenger.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalms‬ ‭34:8‬ ‭

Dear friend,
Don’t believe the lie that God’s goodness applies to everyone but you! Today I want to encourage you to believe in God’s goodness and trust He has His loving arms wrapped around you. In your time of trouble, don’t hide like Adam and Eve, but run to our Heavenly Father with open arms. If you are in a season of waiting, be patient and take refuge in Him knowing and expecting God to deliver on all of the promises He has for you. Chances are without the troubles, you may not come to fully appreciate the promises He has given.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Divorce, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering

Finding Freedom from Your Past

As a biblical counselor, I consider it a great honor to serve and walk alongside individuals that are struggling to find their footing. It wasn’t long ago that I myself was striving. I had lost sight of the cross and was lured in by the enemy who planted doubt and confusion in my mind specifically related to events from my past. (Remind you of Genesis 3 by chance?) I had allowed Satan a foothold into my life and he cleverly twisted my thoughts and skewed my view on reality.

I eventually gave in to the enemy’s temptation and started running in the opposite direction from the Lord and from my husband. I had communicated to Tommy that I had forgiven him, however, I neglected to connect the dots between forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. Instead of accepting his sincere apology and addressing our marital issues, I paved the road to divorce with bitterness in my heart and wrath on my lips. My words were damaging and were intended to bring about vengeance. Reminding Tommy of his past failures was motivated by my desire to elicit sympathy for myself and inflict pain on him. I felt completely justified in my actions because my heart had grown hardened towards him and I felt he deserved harsh punishment for the way he had treated me over the past 10 years.

As I reflect back, I’m so thankful Tommy was receiving sound biblical advice. Several godly men directed him to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and disregard mine. He was not bound by my words because the soft whispers of the Spirit drowned out all the accusations I hurled at him. With time, I realized my words were no longer effecting Tommy or his stand for our marriage. I could have attempted to use other weapons in my arsenal, but thankfully God’s plan and pursuit of my heart came to fruition and the veil was lifted from my eyes. With clear vision, there was nothing left to do but turn to the Lord and address my past biblically.

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Did you hear that dear friends? Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! Aren’t those sweet words that we need to hear and be reminded of time and time again? We are not hopeless victims that can never recover from our past. We have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to set us free and break the chains. Behind our bondage and every bad habit or behavior is a lie. When we speak falsehoods to ourselves and play untrue thoughts frequently, we convince ourselves that they are true. Commit your mind to the Lord so the lies can be eradicated and the Spirit can do a powerful work in your life. Christ made a way for us to find freedom from our past, in Him and through Him by His death on the cross.

Christian Walk, Couseling, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Conversations

Tommy and I are excited to introduce a new feature to you all that we are calling Conversations. Over the past year, we found ourselves discussing everyday life as well as ministry opportunities while sitting on our front porch sipping coffee. These personal conversations led us to the decision to record our discussions in order to give you a deeper understanding of topics from both the “stander” as well as the “prodigal’s” point of view. We also believe these talks will bring the authenticity we desire for Purposed Marriage since they are unscripted and won’t be edited or need to be rewritten like some of our blog posts. We hope you are encouraged by this new media outlet and we look forward to producing more in the near future. You can find us on iTunes, TuneIn Radio, or directly through Soundcloud.

Christian Walk, Marriage

Happy Thanksgiving

IMG_4348I recently captured this image of Tommy and our boys and it instantly became a favorite. It reminds me of the old hymn penned by B.B. McKinney.

Wherever He leads I’ll go
Wherever He leads I’ll go
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I’ll go

He drew me closer to His side
I sought His will to know
And in that will I now abide
Wherever He leads I’ll go

I am so thankful we have a Heavenly Father that pursues us, who gently takes us by the hand and leads us to His side. Whatever you may be facing today dear friends, be encouraged and thankful knowing Christ is walking the path with you. May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving!

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalms 9:1

Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Be Authentic

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The authenticity of your marriage stand if not 100% genuine, will be evident to your prodigal. If your motivation for wanting reconciliation does not come from a heart that is fully devoted to God and keeping His covenant, chances are your running spouse will continue to run. The most effective way to gain your loved one’s attention is to live out your devotion to the Lord in an active pursuit of holiness. Nothing will speak to your prodigal in a more profound manner than when you remain malleable and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation in your life.

As you grow more deeply connected to Christ, your pursuit can’t help but be demonstrated by modeling a love for your prodigal they have never seen before through acts of kindness and service. God can use your marriage stand to tear down the walls that have been erected no matter the heights. But, your desire for an intimate relationship with Him must precede your desire for reconciliation. When it does, your prodigal will take notice. Unfortunately, this does not mean your loved one will take action immediately. It may take weeks, months or even years.

God softened Tommy’s heart rather quickly into his stand. Shortly after our separation he began biblical counseling and addressing some deep issues that plagued our marriage. As he was seeking help, and attempting to explain the transformation God was performing in his heart and life, I cast it off as excuses. After ten years of hearing the same promise for change, I was no longer interested in seeing if he was sincere in his claims. Even though he owned his faults and was taking responsibility for his actions, I was incapable of witnessing any true changes because I had grown calloused.

There was a much needed growth process for both of us and God had some refining work to do in our lives before we were to be reconciled. Over time, as Tommy matured in his faith, he developed a deeper understanding of how to better love me. When I recognized his walk with the Lord was authentic and his genuine love for me was a reflection of His love for Christ, I was compelled by the Holy Spirit to be more receptive to his true motivations.

Tommy showed me what he valued by how he invested his time. During his nearly two year stand, he made it clear that his covenant to God was the first priority and his covenant to me was second. I’m so grateful he did not give up on our marriage and allowed the light of Christ to shine through him so brightly that everyone took notice, eventually even me. Although I will never fully understand because I did not walk in Tommy’s shoes, now that we have been reunited, I can comprehend how painstakingly difficult it was for him to endure the heartache he suffered for the sake of our covenant. We could not reach restoration until our hearts had been healed and transformed.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Dear friend, there is a purpose and a design for what is happening in your life. As God disciplines, teaches and corrects you, trust Him through the process. How amazing will it be to look back one day and see how God used the darkest hours of your stand to shine light into the hardened heart of your loved one? Be strong and take courage.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Divorce, Marriage

When Restoration Becomes Idolatry

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And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

Perhaps the greatest struggle of the stander is to balance our pursuit of holiness alongside the desire to see our marriages restored. While reconciliation and restoration are Biblical and fall in line with God’s plan and purpose for believers, we must be careful not to elevate our intense desire for oneness with our covenant spouse over our love and devotion to the Father.

In the early stages of my separation from Amy, I was consumed with doing whatever it took to restore our marriage. To say I was obsessed with restoration was an understatement. I can readily admit there not being a waking moment when my mind was not focussed on finding the one thing that would reunite my wife and I. In my efforts, I recall writing letters, buying her gifts, offering to run errands, and a host of other sincere, heartfelt actions. While all of these may have seemed worthwhile and good at the time, they only served to further harden her spirit. They were having the complete opposite effect of what I felt they should. The fact was, her heart wasn’t ready for restoration. All truth be told, neither was mine.

As the weeks and months continued, our relationship progressively deteriorated. During this time, I became convicted of the fact that I had been guilty of placing my desire for restoration above my desire to be fully submitted to Christ. It wasn’t easy to admit. As I reflected on my spent time and energies, the more I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had unwittingly elevated my covenant spouse to a position she had no business holding. It may seem a bit strange to consider the desire for a reconciled marriage as sin, but what I suggest is that it wasn’t the godly desire was wrong; it was that the godly desire was misplaced.

…for I the Lord your God am a jealous God. Exodus 34:14

Are you spending all your time worried and fretting about the condition of your marriage? Is the sum total of your energies devoted to restoration outweighing the time that should be spent in developing a closer relationship with Christ? When we place anything above our love for God and the desire to serve him, that “thing” becomes an idol. An idol can be represented by anything that stands before us and our Lord.

It is entirely possible that in your stand, you may be guilty of doing what we’ve shared here. Full and complete submission to God doesn’t means you abandon your prodigal. We are not suggesting this. What we do advocate for however, is a reordering of our priorities if we are to remain fully committed to holiness. Practically speaking, this could mean that you become more involved in local ministries at your church serving others. Or perhaps you spend more time in prayer; time that may have otherwise been devoted to figuring out ways to reach your spouse.

Make no mistake, Christ is honored in our stands. It brings glory to the Lord when we remain bold in the face of adversity and refuse to walk away from our covenant commitment. Just be mindful that your collective efforts for restoration aren’t detracting with what should be a close, intimate and intentional relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Him,
Tommy Larson

Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

God’s Ways are Higher

HighEr (1)

During our pause, when Tommy was actively pursuing restoration, one thing he often reminded me was our marriage would never be the same. What he meant was our marriage could be so much more than I ever imagined. It would never go back to being the loveless marriage that lacked passion as it did in previous years. If we reconciled, we wouldn’t be two strangers merely coexisting in a shared space. Tommy assured me His heart had been transformed and he longed for the same oneness I desired. He spoke about loving me and serving as the dedicated leader, protector and provider our family needed.

It took a while before I listened, and even longer to trust him and recognize the sincerity of his claims. I knew he meant what he said because it wasn’t a rehearsed speech, rather, it was detailed and heartfelt. I could hear the emotions in the tone of his voice as he talked about our future together. When he addressed the subject of reconciliation, it was never discussed with selfish motives or intent. It was always approached from a perspective that sought to love and serve me. Tommy believed we could have the beautiful, loving relationship God intended, and the more passionate he was, the more I started believing in his vision.

Admittedly, I did not welcome his ideas at first. But, God used Tommy’s foresight and persistence to chip away my hardened heart and I began envisioning a second chance for our marriage. He prayed fervently for me, constantly seeking to stay attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit and would only talk about our future together when he felt prompted. He asked God to soften my heart and looked for opportunities to share especially when he knew I had an openness and willingness to listen.

I needed to hear Tommy wanted to start afresh, with no desire to return to the marriage in the state we left it. At the time, I did not think it was possible to rekindle our relationship because it was seemingly dead. But, Praise the Lord, God’s thoughts are not my thoughts nor are His ways my ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Our gracious Heavenly Father exceeded every expectation I had for my marriage. When God restored our relationship, He gave Tommy and I a double portion of love for one another and ignited a passion in us that I didn’t know could exist. Every trait I desired in a husband was fulfilled in Tommy because his attributes were lining up with those of Christ.

When I was fully immersed in my sin, I looked at Tommy with contempt and ambivalence. Thankfully, Tommy had an army of warriors praying for me and my attempts to ignore the Holy Spirit were weakened due to their prayers on my behalf. I was convicted and soon the strongholds in my life were no longer holding me captive. The veil was lifted from my eyes and I saw Tommy as the changed man he had become, as well as the soulmate I had always desired.

Dear friends, I cannot express the importance of praying for your partner and building a network of prayer warriors to intercede on their behalf. You may find yourself in the same situation we were in years ago when all hope seemed lost in reviving our relationship. I want to encourage you to pray for your loved one and stay attuned the the Holy Spirit’s prompting. When you feel led, share a few details of how God has changed your heart–talk about what life could be like in the future. Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your loved one, but little reminders of a bright, new future may inspire your partner to start envisioning life with you instead of without you. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Even when things look hopeless, the good news is, our ways are not God’s ways. His ways are higher so let’s leave the big tasks in the hands of our mighty Father.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Church, Couseling, Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Zero Shades of Grey

zero

When defending my decision to divorce, one of the phrases I used often was, “The Bible is full of areas of grey.” It’s also a phrase I’ve heard others use since starting our marriage ministry. For me, it was a tactic to divert the attention away from myself and onto Tommy. I ascribed greyness in my pursuit of divorce, at the same time condemning Tommy for his past failures and defining them as black and white.

It was also a convenient way to shut down the conversation before it ever began, so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I hadn’t done everything possible to make my marriage work. During our pause, I refused to attend Biblical couples counseling, neglected to talk with any pastors or church staff members, nor was I willing to allow God to help me forgive Tommy, although he was desperately seeking my forgiveness. I’ve found the majority of people that bring up areas of grey are those looking for loopholes in Scripture. Those wanting to justify their sin or provide a less guilty conscience for themselves tout the Bible as being foggy.

Reality was Tommy had been humbly broken before the Lord, submitting to the Holy Spirit and changed from the inside out. Although I saw clear evidence of God leading his life in the direction of holiness, I felt it was my right to condemn his sinful actions from the past. But, I had forgotten Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” Instead of trying to guilt and shame my husband for his past behavior, I should have been seeking God and asking for His help to bring about reconciliation in my marriage.

Although I claimed to have forgiven Tommy, it was clear I had not by continually condemning him and bringing up his past transgressions . Forgiveness in my eyes meant saying a string of words (I forgive you), then proceeding with divorce. It looked like having a stranger knock on his apartment door unexpectedly to hand him a manila envelope followed by one simple phrase, “you have been served.” It was my push for divorce that left Tommy desperately heartbroken and confused at his front door that day trying to figure out how he could walk back inside and pretend like everything was okay in front of our boys.

Is that what forgiveness looks like to you? Is that the representation of Christ’s forgiveness in Scripture? True forgiveness was Jesus taking the sin of the world upon His shoulders, being beaten, bloody and bruised while hanging on the cross with a spear-pierced side and nail-pierced hands and feet. Forgiveness was Jesus crying out to the father in Heaven, “forgive them for they know not what they do,” as the soldiers cast lots to divide His garments at the foot of the cross. Forgiveness was Christ looking over to the thief hanging beside Him just before He took his last breath, assuring him, “today you shall be with me in paradise.” It’s about giving a second, a third and a fourth chance. It’s not seven times, but seventy times seven repeatedly forgiving the sinner that has sincerely asked for forgiveness.

How could I reconcile a decision that honors God when He makes it very clear that he hates divorce? I couldn’t because the Bible is in fact very black and white. It is true, the Bible doesn’t address every specific issue we may face in life. However, it does provide principles we should live our lives by to govern our thoughts and actions. When we examine our choices through the prism of God’s Word, we’ll find zero shades of grey.

There are a number of questions we can ask ourselves that will help bring clarity to our decision making. Will this help me grow spiritually? Is this harmful to me or to others? Will this decision cause my brothers or sisters to stumble? Of all the questions, I think the most important to ask is, will this decision bring glory and honor to God. We were created uniquely in the likeness of God to bring glory to Himself.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Are you pleasing God and striving for holiness or are you lost in areas of grey, excusing your behavior and rebelling against our Heavenly Father?

In Christ,
Amy Larson

Christian Walk, Divorce, Marriage

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry entitled The Story of Us. If you missed it, you definitely want to read it before continuing, as this is a follow-up entry. The Story of Us is the true story of how Tommy and I met and the events leading up to our marriage, while this post focuses on the lies I told myself that lead to our separation and divorce.

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I had known for some time that my marriage was strained and attempted to do everything in my power to make things work. I kept our home a little more tidy and made sure our boys didn’t get out of line. I tried to be more encouraging and found subjects to talk about with Tommy that I knew he enjoyed. I dressed nice to impress him and planned outings for us, although they rarely turned out as I had hoped. Everything I did was an outward attempt to be a better wife, and a better mother.

It was fairly easy to keep up the “good behavior” for short periods of time. But, when I saw my actions weren’t resonating with Tommy, I veered in the opposite direction and my kindness turned into hostility. I would often avoid Tommy and even ignored him, showing disrespect by raising my voice or worse, rolling my eyes. My desire for wanting Tommy to change was not wrong in and of itself. But, when I didn’t get a loving response in return, I acted out in anger and allowed my emotions to rule my behavior. Placing value on my feelings over obedience, my heart grew further away from Tommy, as well as the Lord.

When I had exhausted all attempts to save my marriage, I convinced myself that God was not capable of changing Tommy’s heart so I began devising a plan to remove him from our home and from my life. After pleading with Tommy to leave, he agreed with the expectation of returning. Although I led him to believe this brief time apart was temporal, I had no intentions of ever letting him back into our home.

The story of us and all the beautiful memories we had shared together were now a part of our past. The further I moved out of God’s will for my life, the easier it became to believe the lies. The realization that our marriage had been a mistake from the very start quickly became reality. You see, I had never really been in love with Tommy. He was a convenient target of my affections, and had manipulated me into marrying him.

As I am writing these words, I am horrified to read them back, but I’m sharing in hopes that God will use our story to help save one marriage. That one wife or one husband will identify with these same lies and turn back from their march towards divorce. Now, backing up a bit to explain how God made a mistake (note the sarcasm)…

Keep in mind I had been serving in Egypt with very little contact with men due to cultural differences. I was not living in a foreign country as a tourist, I was fully immersed in the culture. I dressed and acted like an Egyptian–not making eye contact with men or conversing with the opposite sex and fully covering my body as to not attract unwanted attention. Up until the time Tommy arrived in Egypt, I had not talked to or interacted with any single men my age with the exception of a handful of interpreters.

Tommy had made no suggestions of desiring anything other than friendship prior to or during his trip. It’s also important to note that he was personally invited and encouraged by me to join the group that was visiting. Regardless of the clear facts, I concocted a story in my mind to believe he had used my circumstances to strategically work his way into my life. Somehow, he had masterminded a plan from a thousand miles away to take advantage of the fact that I desired male companionship. His sole purpose for visiting Egypt wasn’t to serve the Lord or experience the culture and the fare, it was to manipulate me into falling in love with him. (Stay with me… I know it sounds ridiculous!)

During our two weeks together in Egypt, Tommy had shown a different side of himself. He was funny, charming, kind, outgoing and someone I really enjoyed being around. Initially, I viewed this as God opening my eyes to see Tommy in a new light. The Holy Spirit was prompting my heart and cultivating a love for him I had never previously felt. But, that truth was quickly replaced with my truth, which equated to whatever lie was most believable or in this case, the most unbelievable. It was Tommy’s use of mind control and manipulative tactics that coerced me into a long distance relationship with him that eventually lead me to the altar. In my vulnerable state, Tommy had set a trap for me and I had taken the bait!

Upon returning to the States, I went through an extended weekend of debrief counseling. My counselors advised me to take the time to properly acclimate back into western society and warned me to wait at least a year before making any long-term commitments. I later used this to further justify my reasoning as to why Tommy and I should have never gotten married in the first place. It was crystal clear to me, God had made a mistake! Sadly, I voiced these lies to Tommy and deeply hurt him in my quest to end his stand for our marriage.

I was so blinded, living in darkness and completely deceived by the enemy. Paul warns us about the evil powers of darkness against that which we struggle (Eph. 6:12). It is in the darkness that we fall prey to Satan’s attacks. Paul also reminds us that we are not to be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.‭‭ 2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭

The problem is, I had neglected to identify my enemy. It wasn’t Tommy; it was Satan all along. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, I was heading straight into the den of the roaring lion.

Dear friend, don’t be outwitted! Heed the Word of the Lord and view Satan’s attacks for exactly what they are… detours on God’s perfect path for your life. If you are standing for your marriage, please know that you are not alone in your journey. There are others out there, holding onto hope that God will deliver their loved one from out of the mouth of the lion just like God delivered me.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

 

Christian Walk, Marriage

The Story of Us

The Story of UsThirteen years ago today, Tommy and I stood before God, our family and friends and said, “I do”. Since we are celebrating our wedding anniversary, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share the story of us…

We first met one Sunday morning in church during the welcoming of guests. I didn’t recognize Tommy and figured he was visiting, so I made a beeline straight for him. With a friendly handshake, I introduced myself and asked him a few questions. He didn’t look a day over sixteen years old, so I assumed we were around the same age. When I asked him which school he attended, he replied very matter-of-factly, “I just graduated from college”. At the time, I was a middle schooler. I’m quite certain I stood there dumbfounded, staring at him trying to figure out if I should take him seriously or if he was only kidding.

Due to our seven year age difference, we didn’t spend much time together until I was in college. Even then, I went to school out of state so the time we did see each other was limited to occasional Sundays when I was in town and we attended the same Bible study group. Although we were friendly with one another, I didn’t consider us to be friends. Tommy came across as a very serious and well-mannered young man, but rarely spoke or attempted to converse with me at all.

Following college graduation, I traveled to Nicaragua on my first international mission trip. What was originally supposed to be several weeks of service, turned into several months and my passion for missions lead me to search for a long term position with a mission-focused organization. During this transitional period, Tommy and I briefly worked together at a childcare facility and became very close friends. After spending quite a bit of time together, I knew he had a fondness for me, but I purposely kept my distance as we didn’t plan on living in the same city, state or even on the same continent.

After months of prayer and preparation, I found myself on a plane with a one way ticket to Egypt where I would live and serve for the next two years. Due to my move and complete immersion in a new culture, I lost contact with many of my stateside friends including Tommy.  We didn’t reconnect again for approximately a year after I had been living in Egypt. When I heard from him, he reached out to me in an email. He wrote somewhat regularly and entertained me by filling me in on all the happenings in our church and in his personal life.

Six months after we reconnected, a small group from our church planned a trip to visit Egypt during Christmas. Tommy and my mom were among the group members. As soon as I met them at the airport and saw Tommy walk through the terminal gate, I noticed something about him had changed. I viewed him in a different light. When I went to greet him, I had a strong sense that I was looking at my future husband.

During his visit, there was an undeniable joy I felt in his presence and I trusted the Holy Spirit was opening my eyes to catch a glimpse into Tommy’s heart. We spent countless hours laughing and talking. For the next two weeks, I enjoyed time with both Tommy and my mom. Every evening, I poured out my heart to my mother, confiding in her how I was feeling and engaged in deep discussions on the topic of marriage.

When it was time to say our goodbyes, I secretly wrote a note on the back of Tommy’s plane voucher that read, “I like that you love me!” From the moment he read those words, he pursued me as his wife. In fact, he had been pursuing my heart all along. Although we lived in separate countries at the time, we kept in close contact and began making preparations for our future wedding. The six months we were apart flew by and when I returned to the states, Tommy greeted me at the airport along with my parents. Within three months of my return we were engaged and within six months we were married.

We had known each other for over a decade. We knew each other’s families and were a part of each other’s lives, yet it took traveling thousands of miles to a foreign land for God to unite our hearts. Only God could have written our story so beautifully! In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon tells us that everything in life is a matter of timing, for time and timing is everything. The events in our lives did not happen randomly or by chance; God purposed all of them.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭

This is the story of us!

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Church

Gather Together

Gather Together

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬

By God’s design, we were created to be relational beings and were not meant to be alone. When God breathed life into Adam and Eve, He formed them to be in fellowship with Him and with each other. Scripture signifies the importance of relationships and weaves together a beautiful picture of oneness as depicted in the Trinity (1 John 5:7-8), amongst the church body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14), between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:31) and between Christ and His Bride (Ephesians 5:32). We were designed to live in companionship with one another, loving and encouraging our brothers and sisters as a unified body.

As we are growing together, we should be maturing in our relationships with the intent of becoming more like Christ in both our marriages and as a church. Our fellow believers are surrounding us to be the accountability partners and support team we need and vice versa. The church should be a sanctuary for those in troubled relationships, but more often than not, we disconnect from the very people that can offer us the most help. Whether we believe we are the only ones experiencing hardships, or we are just too prideful to ask for help, we forget our brothers and sisters are united with us in one body.

Like the body, there are many parts, each with differing roles to help make it function more efficiently. Knowing the purpose for unity in the body, why then do we forsake the assembling of ourselves together? There are a multitude of reasons ranging from church member hypocrisy, to worship style preferences but ultimately, in light of the charge to attend church, they are merely excuses. It speaks to a heart that is disinterested in close Biblical fellowship with the Lord if we don’t make it a priority to attend church. We focus on how the body can benefit us instead of how we can benefit the body, and the selfishness of our hearts causes us to lose sight of the true design of the body of Christ.

But, it’s not just enough to “go to church” we need to make sure the church we are attending is Bible believing, gospel-centered, and doctrinally sound. Many churches today have strayed from the Biblical path and have welcomed worldly and false doctrines into their preaching and teaching. We must be mindful and always seeking God’s truth so as to discern what type of yokes we form with other professing bodies of believers.

We shouldn’t gather as a body just out of a sense of duty or obligation, but to participate in the profound mystery any person or group could ever experience: a wholeness within the body and as the Bride united together with Christ. There is a presence of the Holy Spirit where two or more are gathered in His name and a fullness of joy reserved for the Bride. When we gather this Easter to celebrate the single greatest sacrifice in history, praising the name of our risen savior, let us unite in Christ’s name not just this Sunday, but every week, serving one another together so we can experience the fullness of God as He intended.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15-16‬

In Christ,
Tommy & Amy Larson

Anger, Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation, Uncategorized

Be Angry and Sin Not

Copy of Be angry

One of the justifications Amy used in her pursuit of divorce from me was the fact that my anger was out of control. In those days, the hostility shown by me had reached a point where my actions would literally instill fear in her. Of course there was never any real justification for my anger. It mostly reared its ugly head when I became frustrated, ashamed or perceived that I was being disrespected. The petty issues that would ignite these outbursts were so small and insignificant that looking back now, I can’t even recall them. But as I ponder the moments of conflict and status of my spirit at the time, I recognize that it was my spiritual heart condition that led the way to destruction.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19–20

The beginning of Biblical counseling marked the starting point for a turning of the tides in my life. As the truth of the Word was penetrating deep into the uttermost parts of my soul, I was being transformed into a person that was patient, compassionate and loving. I’ll admit these characteristics did not come naturally for me. Only by the grace of God did these seeds bear fruit in my life. Unfortunately, by the time they did, Amy had already lost hope.

As we continued down our journey towards divorce, I was very intentional about displaying the opposite of what Amy had been used to seeing for most of our marriage. The more I spent time in the God’s Word and listening to Biblical instruction, the easier and more natural it was for me to act the way Christ intended. But Amy was very sceptical of the transformation. Any deviation from the straight and narrow path I was following would reaffirm her belief that I was the same old angry person. Someone incapable of change.

One particular evening sticks out in my mind as an example of when my anger caused a great deal of damage to the cause of healing and reconciliation. I’ll share it now…

Roughly five months into the separation, Amy had asked if I’d be willing to go to a picnic type event at Micah’s school with the rest of the family. I can remember being so encouraged that we’d have the opportunity to do this together as a family. I had told others how much I was looking forward to it and spent considerable time in prayer asking the Lord to use it to draw our family closer together. It started out well enough. The boys were getting their faces painted and we were eating food from the local vendors. By all accounts, we looked like a typical family. I remember asking Amy if she’d like to go out with the boys and I for some dessert after we finished there. At first she wouldn’t give me a direct answer. But after some pressing, she revealed she already had plans. It wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear and so I allowed my fleshly emotions to take over. The anger and frustration grew as we headed back to our separate cars and then proceeded to “exchange” the boys for the weekend. I was angry at the situation and how terrible it was for our family to be in that position. At the time, I felt like it was a righteous anger. After all, I wasn’t the one wanting to split up our family. I wanted marriage restoration. She wanted the divorce.
But what I had failed to realize at the time was that I was placing the desire for marriage restoration before my devotion and allegiance to God. Yes, God wills for families to stay together and for marriages to last a lifetime. That’s what I was desiring. It wasn’t God’s will however, for me to get angry and frustrated when the timeline I had setup for restoration didn’t line up with the Lord’s.

Scripture teaches us the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. When we elevate a desire for something above Christ, even if it is Godly and just, it becomes a sin. Had I understood this precept early on, perhaps restoration would have come sooner. I may never know. But what is certain however, is that our God is a jealous one. He alone is worthy to be praised. May we keep our focus on Him and remain in obedience and holiness even as we rightfully pursue marriage restoration. Hate sin and divorce, but do not let anger and the quest for righteousness produce iniquity in your heart and life.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Grace Abounds

grace

A little over ten years ago, when Tommy and I found out I was expecting our first child, I was over the moon with excitement. I read daily about the growth of the baby, the developmental process and what to expect during pregnancy. Each doctor’s visit, I took delight in watching our little one move about, turning over and sucking his thumb as he grew in the womb. I carefully studied the intricate details of our ultrasound photos imagining what our son would look like when he arrived. The anticipation of his birth was an exciting time in my life and a welcomed distraction from our marital problems.

When Micah finally made his appearance after 42 weeks in the womb, I was overcome with emotions. As Tommy held him up and my eyes met his for the first time, I cried tears of happiness. No matter how many tears I wiped away, countless more streamed down my face as my heart leapt with joy. Our little blessing had made his way into the world, and I had become a mother. A few years later, I welcomed Elijah and then Jacob with the same joy-filled tears and overwhelmed heart. The births of our children made time stand still. It brought periods of calm and a sense of normalcy in what was otherwise a very strained and contentious relationship.

Our boys were happy babies and brought so much contentment. I enjoyed nursing them and cuddling each before laying them down for nap time. As they grew, I poured my love into them watching as they transitioned from sitters-crawlers-walkers. When God knit them together in my womb, I was fully captivated by their development. I had been so attuned to their needs when they were babies and toddlers, but over time my loving attention began to diminish the more I focused on my failing marriage.

The years of Tommy’s distance and neglect, wore away my confidence in him as a husband and father, as well as my faith in the Lord to bring about lasting and meaningful change. My heart began to hardened and I became unresponsive to the Holy Spirit. I successfully deceived myself into believing divorcing Tommy and moving forward without him, would make life easier for everyone. Although our children were aware of the tension and lack of affection between Tommy and I, nothing could have prepared their little hearts for the changes ahead. Their world took a drastic turn at the ages of 6, 3 and 15 months old. Our precious boys were no longer sleeping through the night, snores turned into sobs, and their delightful spirits were crushed.

Once we separated, I appeared to be happy, but that was all an illusion. Inside, my heart was aching as Christ’s light was dimming and darkness began to creep in. I was doing my best to keep up the facade, but I was living in a whirlwind and too blinded by sin to realize our three boys were being tossed about like a wave in the sea. My life was not reflecting the beautiful picture I had presented to the world, yet I continued to deceive myself and others.

I got so caught up in trying to sell the lie, I didn’t realize the emotional damage that was being done. I missed all of the warning signs despite phone calls and messages from the boys’ teachers telling me they were struggling to keep their emotions in tact. My judgement had been so clouded, I unfairly blamed Tommy for their suffering. I had convinced myself I was moving forward to a happier and healthier life for their well-being, but that was not proving to be true and was having the opposite effect in which I had intended.

As I drifted further away from the Lord, Tommy drew closer and began intense Biblical counseling. One by one, the strongholds the enemy had in his life started to crumble and as a result, he became a changed man. Our boys took notice and began opening up to their daddy, pouring out their hearts to him and sharing a deeper bond than I had ever witnessed before. Over time, I noticed a change in my relationship with our children. I wasn’t the loving, attentive, patient mother I used to be. I had become quite the opposite and was every bit of distant and neglectful as I had previously accused Tommy of being. I had divorced him for past behavior that was now present and ruling in my own life.

Despite my actions, Tommy continually showed me kindness and sacrificial love. His acts of obedience began to have an effect on me and my eyes were opened to the reality of our situation. The more the Holy Spirit revealed to me, the more broken I became. No matter how miserably I had failed, God’s remarkable gift of grace abounded.

But where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20

When our family reunited, not only did I ask forgiveness from my husband, I also admitted my faults to our children and apologized to them just as sincerely.

Throughout the past couple of years, God has been so compassionate and merciful to me. He has taught me the beauty of His son’s sacrifice and the importance of granting forgiveness to others as graciously as it has been given to me. There is no greater joy than giving God the glory for the miraculous healing and redemption that’s taken place in our family. Though it was brought about with heartbreak and suffering, I rejoice knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. My hope isn’t invested in something that is temporal, but in the only One that can bring about everlasting change, Jesus Christ my Savior.

Perhaps you are in the midst of marital struggles of your own or you are currently going through a divorce. Seek the Lord and ask Him to give you the ability to ask for forgiveness or grant forgiveness whatever the circumstances may be. Take comfort in knowing your hope lies in Jesus Christ! No situation or relationship is beyond the power of God to heal and restore.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Faith, Forgiveness

Nothing is Hidden from God

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.”Have you ever attended a Bible study or been sitting in a Sunday morning service and thought the pastor was speaking directly to you? You find yourself looking around the room to see if anyone is staring in your direction. Can others simply look at you and see the transgressions you have committed before the Lord? Is it that obvious?

You envision a bright neon sign above your head with an arrow pointing down as the lights flash GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. This isn’t necessary an attack from the pastor in the pulpit, but rather the Holy Spirit convicting you of unconfessed sins. Sometimes we are gently reminded of our wrong doings and other times, a spotlight is shown on us so we are forced to face them. No matter how hard we try to conceal our sins, one thing is certain, we can never hide them from our Father in Heaven.

I look back on the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, immediately following their fall, when they ate of the forbidden fruit. For the first time, the realized they were naked and begin gathering leaves to cover themselves. When they heard God walking in the garden, they frantically looked for a good hiding place amongst the shrubs in hopes that God wouldn’t find them or look upon their nakedness.

Did they really think the creator of the universe, the God that breathed life into the dust of the earth and formed their flesh, wouldn’t be able to find them? Even if Adam and Eve managed to successfully camouflage themselves and blend into the foliage, God didn’t have to search for them. He was with Adam and Eve all along and knew exactly where they were.

One could look back on this story and laugh. Who did Adam and Eve think they were kidding? But, all too often, we play the exact same game of hide and seek with the Lord. Whether we deceive ourselves and legitimize our sins like Adam and Eve, or become complacent and no longer fear the consequences of our actions, we forget our God is omnipresent.

So much of our time is spent finding ways to cover up our wrongs instead of exposing them to the light and seeking help. By hiding our fleshly desires, we may be able to fool onlookers, and perhaps even our loved ones at times, but our Heavenly Father is aware of our intentions. He knows every thought we think and every action we take.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:13‬

God gave us His truth so we would learn from the mistakes of those that walked the path before us. If we are grounded in God’s Word, reading and seeking the Bible, we are less likely to be deceived by Satan’s cunning half-truths and outright lies. We cannot allow the enemy to twist God’s Words into what our itching ears want to hear.

When left to our own devices, we feed our selfish desires and let pride rule our hearts. The sin of pride led to Lucifer’s fall from the heavens. Pride also led to the fall of Adam and Eve, and has infected the hearts and minds of all mankind. We must put off pride and replace it with the desire to please God and promote His glory instead of our own.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Divorce, Healing and Reconciliation

Beauty from Ashes

THE SPIRITUAL FORCES

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬

The night of my mother’s passing will forever be ingrained in my memory as an evening I battled against spiritual forces. God was telling me one thing, but the enemy was shouting another. One voice was loud, and the other one was soft. As I recount that emotional evening, I look back and realize I was pleading with the Lord over a situation He was entirely in control of all along.

As routine would have it, I called my mom after tucking the boys into bed for the night. The phone rang and rang and then went to voicemail. In reality, what was probably only 15 minutes, felt like an eternity waiting for her return call, but never receiving one. Since my father was out of town, my concern grew stronger when I did not hear back from her. In my spirit, I knew something was wrong.

At the time, Tommy and I had been living separately for about a year and a half and were officially divorced. Although he only lived three minutes down the road, I never called him when I needed help. The thought of him knowing I was in need of assistance didn’t sit well with my prideful heart. Plus, I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression – as if filing for divorce didn’t already send that message loud and clear!

While contemplating what to do, I heard a still small voice prompting me to reach out to Tommy. But, another part of me heard a louder voice, shouting, “He’s a manipulator, liar. You know you can’t trust him. Call anyone but him.” In the end, I decided to listen to the voice of reason.

Upon answering his phone, I explained the situation to Tommy, and he immediately agreed to come over and stay with the boys. I especially remember his tone was one of genuine love and concern. In an attempt to calm my nerves and put my heart at ease, he offered multiple explanations as to why my mom may not be answering her phone. At this point, it had been around thirty minutes of constant phone calls, texts and voicemails, but all failed attempts to reach my mother.

When Tommy arrived, I greeted him at the door expecting him to follow me inside. I’m not sure what led me to that conclusion. It had been at least a year and a half since he had stepped foot into our home per my wishes. I could see his reluctance, and then he said something that stopped me in my tracks. “If you prefer, I can sit on the porch with the door cracked and listen for the boys until you get back. I don’t have to come inside.”

This was a pivotal moment and then it hit me…

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.

Tommy had always been a phone call or a knock away, but I never called or opened the door to let him in. As I stood there with my heart melting inside of my chest, I welcomed him into our home. From that moment on, I knew God was doing something big, I just didn’t know what.

As I dashed to my parents home, I barely remember the drive. Admittedly, I was afraid to find out if my intuition was correct. I didn’t know what I was about to walk into, so I prayed continually on the way. When I unlocked the door, I called out desperately wanting to hear my mother’s voice. But, all I could hear was stark silence. I ran into her room and found her lying lifeless in bed. I knew it was too late, but I began performing CPR anyway and screaming silently in my mind to her and to God in unison.

“You can’t leave me!”
“How will I live without you?”
“God, not now!”
“You can’t take her!”
“What am I supposed to do?”

Then the silence broke. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.”

Initially, my desperate cry to God for taking something away, turned out to be a monumental turning point in my marriage restoration. I look back on that evening and vividly remember the raging battle I was up against. I was resistant and even angry towards God. I didn’t understand why He had taken my mother so soon or how this devastating event would change the course of my life.

I had built up so many walls to protect myself against Tommy, but he was never my enemy. He was my covenant husband, desperately trying to love me in a way that wasn’t familiar. He was loving me like Christ loved the church, a way he hadn’t demonstrated love previously. He pursued me with kindness, and showed endless examples of sacrificial love.

I witnessed the changes God had made in Tommy’s life and in his heart, but I didn’t want to accept it at first. I continued to believe the lies from the enemy, wrongfully ascribing harmful intentions that were otherwise good. It took the death of my mother to be vulnerable again, and stop resisting God’s purposed path for my life.

I knew God was presenting me with a new creation in Tommy. He was kind, gentle, servant-hearted, tender, and full of the love of Christ. He had become the husband I had previously prayed for during our ten year marriage, and I realized it wasn’t too late. God was restoring and renewing our love for one another.

That late October evening, when my mother met her maker, I was reintroduced to my Savior, and my life was brought back into alignment with Christ. I miss my momma dearly, however, I know without a doubt she would have voluntarily laid down her life if she would have been privy to the miracle God was about to perform. He breathed new life into my marriage, and brought about beauty from the ashes. That night, the Holy Spirit poured out saving grace on me, and amidst the battle, spoke softly and lovingly in a manner that demanded my attention.

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Faith, Marriage, Uncategorized

We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

Copy of We walk by faith, not by sight.

The day I had dreaded for over a year was finally upon me. The scheduled mediation where Amy and I would formally and legally divide our belongings was underway. My emotions were in tatters and I struggled to stay composed throughout the proceedings. Feelings of regret, despair, and disbelief all seemed to be consuming my heart and mind at the same time. The woman I had ten years earlier stood alongside in our marriage ceremony and had made an oath to never leave, was about to be legally removed from my side.

During the mediation I can remember pleading with God to intervene and stop what was taking place. I knew what His word said about divorce and couldn’t believe it was His perfect will that the events unfolding before my eyes were a part of His plan for my life, as well as the lives of my children and covenant wife. How could this be happening? Where was God?

Of course, even though I wasn’t “feeling” God’s presence at that moment, I know He was there. Since then, I’ve grown to understand that God’s silence does not mean his absence in our lives and circumstances. The miracle he had in store for Amy and I required this storm be weathered and endured. My faith in Him needed to be grown and cultivated. The “harvest” was not yet ready.

In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we read, “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” This faith in the power of God to heal and restore was not always easy to believe in. In fact, my faith seemed to contradict all that was real at the time. And make no mistake, I was being verbally reminded by Amy and others of that painful reality on a regular basis. Despite this, the Lord was speaking to my heart and sustaining my spirit. He frequently reminded me of the numerous examples in Scripture where faith was tied to waiting and enduring. This brought me great comfort.

Could God have intervened in that attorney’s office and changed Amy’s heart in an instant? Of course He could have. But I believe in my heart that the power of Christ was demonstrated in a greater way after the judge’s verdict was handed down. It was as though an impenetrable fortress was allowed to be built by the enemy, only to have Almighty God bring it down in a swift and powerful way. It did not matter what had happened in the past or what the new normal appeared to be at the time. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, had the ability to resurrect a dead marriage.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

You may find yourself in a circumstance that seems hopeless. Perhaps you are going through a divorce, or just recently became divorced. Do not give up hope. Pray to the Father daily that His will be done in your life and in the lives of the ones you love. We know what the Lord desires for husbands, wives and families. Do not accept defeat or Satan’s lie that you will find your happiness by moving on or “getting over” your failed marriage. Your happiness and joy comes from Jesus Christ. Your identity is in Him. Submit to His will daily and pray in faith that God does what only He can do. Nothing is impossible with Him.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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Christian Walk, Forgiveness

Wanderer

05 - WandererGiven my love for hiking and outdoor adventures, I can relate to the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost”. While this statement is true, speaking from experience, it is easy to get lost while wandering. About a year and half ago, a friend and I headed out for a six mile hike in the mountains. 2500 calories and twelve miles later, we finally found our way back to the trailhead. We had been completely and utterly lost!

It’s easy to take a couple of steps off the path to check out something you see in the distance. You have every intention of returning back to the path where you left it, but you can’t quite get your bearings. All the vegetation, trees and leaves look the same. You carefully navigate knowing your next steps can lead you closer to your destination or further and further away. It doesn’t take many missteps in the woods before you find yourself wandering aimlessly.

Wandering in the woods can often be like wandering through life. If you don’t have a guide or an inner compass, your steps lead you further away from your preferred destination. At one of the lowest points in my journey, during my and Tommy’s “pause”, I faced a situation where I genuinely feared for my life. I recall numerous warning signs and the Holy Spirit’s persistent voice telling me to run in the opposite direction in which I was headed. I had gotten myself into what seemed like a hopeless situation. I pleaded with God to offer me a way out, begging Him to protect me and allow me to see the light of day. That evening, God’s hand of protection delivered me from a personal experience in which the outcome could have been drastically different. That moment of lowliness I knew changes needed to be made in order to turn my life back into the care and comfort of Christ.

The path back to righteousness was not an easy one, but God gently guided me. It took some deep introspection and tearful conversations to determine which steps to take next. When you run towards God chances are you have to walk away from something else. In my life, it was friends that had been a part of my journey for years. Although I considered them my dearest companions, they had been leading me further away from God and ultimately out of His will instead of towards it. Turning to Christ may mean walking away from friends, jobs, hobbies or bad habits that keep you distanced from the Lord.

Dear friend, perhaps you are in a place in your life where you think there is no hope for you. You have been wandering for years, turning to the pleasures the world has to offer. No matter how far you have gotten off the path, it is never too late to turn around and run into the arms of the Savior! Allow Christ to be your trailblazer so you don’t end up hopelessly wandering through life.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:8-12

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk

Delight Yourself in the Lord

04 - Delight Yourself in the LordDuring my marriage to Tommy, and prior to our “pause”, I prayed for his heart to soften and for his attitude towards me to become more like a representation of Christ’s love for the church. What I neglected to do was pray for myself and recognize my own sinful behavior. I spent so much time focusing on the speck in his eye that I refused to acknowledge the log in my own. (Luke 6:42)

Over time, when I hadn’t seen adequate change, I allowed my desire for a Godly husband to become an idol causing resentment and bitterness to take over my heart. While my desire was not sinful, the motivation for wanting this change on my terms eventually led to a hardened heart.

After pleading with God for years over the state of my marriage, He began the work of answering my prayers, but by that time I had thrown in the towel. I had given up on God and no longer had faith in God’s power to transform. My petitions had been heard all along and the Holy Spirit was transforming my husband right before my eyes, but I chose to ignore it because God’s timeline did not match my own.

Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Many believe this means Christ will “grant our wishes”. This perspective places the emphasis on the second part of the verse instead of focussing our attention on the first half. In my situation, for example, I was not delighting myself in the Lord. My desires were no longer God’s desires, but born out of the flesh which catered to my own selfishness. God wants our idolatrous desires to be replaced with righteous ones.

It is not necessarily wrong to want a more Godly husband or wife. However, this desire can easily become an idol when we displace Jesus Christ as the object of our deepest yearning and affection. When things do not turn out like we want them to, frustration can lead to desperation. And, desperation often leads to sin. Our full devotion should be given to Christ because only He can bring the joy and fulfillment our hearts long for.

Dear friend, I want to challenge you this week to delight yourself in the Lord. Trust in His perfect timing, because He will make it worth the wait. Here are a few practical ways to do so.

  1. Seek to know God’s Word and obey it.
    (Matthew 6:33, Jeremiah 29:13, Psalm 119:2, 1 John 5:3)
  2. Set your heart on God, finding fulfillment and joy in Him.
    (John 15:9-11, Matthew 22:37)
  3. Learn to be content with what you have or do not have.
    (Philippians 4:11b-13)
  4. Give thanks regardless of your circumstances.
    (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In Christ,
Amy Larson

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Christian Walk, Marriage

Holiness Before Happiness

Holiness 

Happiness

The great quest for mankind these days seems to be finding and obtaining lasting happiness. Whether it is coming from Hollywood or our close personal friends, the mindset that exalts personal happiness above all else has become ingrained into our thinking. Somehow we have bought into the notion that we “deserve” to be happy and are owed a stress free life. According to some, suffering, heartache and pain shouldn’t be things we experience as believers. After all, God wants us to be happy and filled with joy. But is this a Biblical worldview? It depends on where this joy is derived from.

While desiring peace and contentment in this life isn’t a bad thing for the believer, we are encouraged by Scripture to pursue holiness, not happiness. In James 1, we read: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I remember early on in my marriage stand being so woefully unhappy. I felt abandoned, hopeless and forsaken. The extreme sadness felt on a daily basis was something I simply couldn’t escape. But slowly, and only after much prayer, discipling, and constant study of Scriptures did I come to understand that suffering was actually a part of the growth process. I learned that it was because Christ loved me that suffering was allowed to occur. I know this likely doesn’t resonate with the unsaved. Sadly, this concept is lost on many professing Christians as well.

As the Lord was refining me and daily increasing my faith and dependence on Him, the enemy was using others to speak to what the Bible describes as an appeal to “itching ears”. I remember being told by well intentioned people to move on, find someone else to make me happy, take on a new hobby, etc… But these “words of wisdom” did not direct me to the source of true and lasting joy. I speak of the joy and peace that can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was this recognition that helped me stay focussed on the straight path and to not be swayed.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” When my marriage had reached a breaking point, and had seemingly reached its’ end, I was at a point where my heart was actually hostile towards God. I had allowed all manner of evil to enter my life. Pride, anger, selfishness and a host of all other iniquities were ruling inside me. It was because of this, I was being severely disciplined. In the course of this, I was humbled and brought to a place of lowliness. I was broken down completely and made to see just how hard and calloused my heart and mind had become to God’s will.

As I better understood the Lord’s motive for doing what He was doing, I became more aware of His grace and love. Knowing how much I was loved by Him caused my heart to melt and my spirit to desire to be more like the One who had saved me. And while during the times of trial I longed for my marriage and family to be restored, I knew that my relationship with the Almighty needed to be the number one priority.

Dear friend, I know that suffering is difficult. Sometimes the pain can drive us to the point where we are willing to do anything to make it go away. But in our pursuit of peace and comfort, are we neglecting the Great Comforter? Are we following His words and teachings or are we seeking a “quick fix” to make everything better? I challenge you to go deeper in your walk with Christ. Allow the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. Rather than listening to the voices in your head which tell you to get out and run away from the pain, speak the truth of the Word of God into your life and experience the transforming power of the Lord. As 1 Peter 1:16 states, “…You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As a follower of Christ, you must recognize this as a command, and not merely a suggestion.

In Christ,
Tommy Larson

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