By Dennis Rainey
FamilyLife’s leadership asked us to come back and speak at the Love Like You Mean It Cruise over Valentines week. At these events we always run a lot of folks with stories of how God is using them to impact others, and this was no exception.
After Barbara and I had spoken to a crowd of approximately 900 about “20 Lessons from 49.5 Years of Marriage,” when we ran into Rob and Sabrina. They thanked us for our ministry and shared a story of how God redeemed their marriage and how they are now being used to impact others.
Rob is a police officer in Lakeland, Florida. “Four years into our marriage our relationship had gone off the rails and we were going to get a divorce,” he told us. “It was then that God reminded me that as a 10-year-old boy I used to sit in the back seat as my mom drove me to school listening to your radio program, FamilyLife Today. I promised myself that when I got older that I wanted to take my wife to the Weekend To Remember [marriage conference] and maybe win some brownie points with her!
“I forgot about that promise for years, until God reminded me in the middle of our marriage crisis … so seven years ago Sabrina and I went to the Weekend to Remember and it saved our marriage!”
I thanked Rob and Sabrina for sharing their story, but he went on to describe how he’s been leading groups of police officers in Lakeland through the video series, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. He said, “God is using that tool to transform the lives, marriages and families of these men.”
Barbara and I absolutely love encouraging our men and women in blue!
When families fall apart
I share this story for two reasons. First, it’s important to remember that, when families fall apart, God can put them back together. When a husband and wife come to God in true humility, walk in obedience to His Word, and allow Him to work in their lives, He will heal them. And that goes for any other family relationship.
Second, there are fractured and hurting families all around you, and God can use you to reach out to them. Think of the people in Matt and Laurie’s area who promoted the Weekend to Remember marriage conference. They had a vision—that people from their church would experience God’s best in marriage. They were faithful to encourage couples to attend a life-changing conference, and God blessed that faithfulness.
He is in the “fix it” business. I think of another couple, Matt and Laurie, who both came from broken homes. Both went careening off into drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity early in their teens as their families were ripped apart. And, like far too many couples today, neither had any idea how to “do marriage.”
Early in their marriage, the fissures began to multiply. Matt quickly identified the things that he thought would make him complete … money, prestige, drugs, and alcohol. He set out on a no-holds-barred pursuit of these four idols, all the while destroying his marriage, his family, his life. In a desperate attempt to be noticed and valued, Laurie focused on losing weight. If she could only look more attractive, she thought, things would change.
Nothing worked. And there was no peace for Matt and Laurie.
Life was spinning out of control … fast. After years of reckless behavior, empty promises, and failed attempts at rehab, Laurie threw Matt out of the house. He wasn’t just an addict; he was a danger to her and their children.
God showed up
Matt was offered a scholarship to rehab and decided to give it another try. He cried out to God and his life began changing.
Even after a year of sobriety, the marriage was still falling apart. Matt and Laurie looked at each other and realized they had nothing in common—nothing to hold them together. They talked about divorce because there was no trust, only constant fighting. After all they had been through, was this as good as it gets?
By the grace of God, that weekend they began to fit their fractured lives back into place. That weekend, Matt and Laurie got plugged into Christ, and it made all the difference. They experienced real forgiveness and allowed themselves the freedom to love each other again. And they discovered that God had a plan for their marriage. He doesn’t make mistakes, and their family was no exception.
We are His ambassadors
Look around you. Do you know a Matt and Laurie? I am willing to bet that you do. Is there some way you can encourage them … by inviting them to a marriage conference … by including them in a small couples group … or just by offering them some much-needed friendship?
2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” God is the only one who can change a human heart, but He uses people like you and me to reach out and touch lives with the good news of His love, grace and forgiveness. And when we partner with Him, remarkable things can happen.
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