I know it's only been a couple of days since I posted last, but I've had some huge revelations since then and feel the need to go public. Some of this involves confessions, some involves prophetic vision and some involves learning how to deal with my wife (who by the way gave me permission to publish this). Well, you'll see.
Let me begin by confessing that I have come to realize that I have learned a whole massive truckload about God and his divine plan and his mercy and grace and holy wrath and Christian discipline and the Bible and his love and his Son and ...I could go on and on for hours about what I know about him... and after all that I don't know him. At least not as well as I thought I did.
See, I have not been turning to him with my difficulties, my shortcomings, my dreams, or my stumbles. I know this is a common problem among many Christians, especially those in the North American branch of the church, but it is affecting me now, so I'm going to rail about it for a bit if you'll allow me a moment's rant. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH MY FAMILY!!! I don't understand my wife. Let me say it again. I do not understand my wife. She is always angry at me for that. I try. I really do. But I just don't. She isn't consistent. She isn't motivated. She complains constantly about everyone else at our church and gets angry when I propose solutions because I DON'T GET IT!!! She regularly commissions me to be the husband, father and leader of the family, but absolutely refuses to give me authority or even permission to perform those roles. I am constantly annoyed that my children can't listen and follow simple instructions without me incessantly badgering them to do what they're told. I am forever angry that I am powerless in my own home to get things done because she won't support me. I fear I am being held back from fulfilling God's purpose for me because my wife won't let go of the rope, and then I fear that by thinking that I am betraying my family and contradicting God's command to be family-oriented first. So then I get discouraged and go off and read my bible in a huff and find comforting or exciting words and weep for joy or in pain and start each new day with the intention of seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven, which of course lasts as long as it takes for the first thing to go wrong, and then I'm swearing a blue streak because I get convinced that I'm trapped in a fruitless existence and a dead-end job and a marriage that is so close to burning itself out that I must tip-toe around my wife lest I spark her ire once more and risk her yelling at me once more that she has no idea why we're together and that she wants a divorce, only to take a three-hour nap and come out all huggy and kissy and asking if I still love her... Is this a marriage that has any hope of surviving?
God says that it is. I do my best to trust him. This is why I don't follow the contemporary world's example and walk out, saying that life's too short and I'm worth more than this. I pray hard that somehow God's purpose in this will be revealed, but as yet I've had little indication of that. God says all will be revealed in HIS time. Again, I must trust him, so I wait and try not to get my wife mad at me, yet it seems that whenever anyone else irks her, I get the backlash. And if she does say anything retributive to the offending party, it's generally something she ends up apologizing for later, because hell hath no fury like Candice scorned, regardless of whether her anger is righteous or not. My sin in all this is that although Candice is what I perceive to be my cross that I must drag through the streets, I cannot keep my eyes focused on things above. I have a downcast face like Cain in Genesis, chapter 4. I am frustrated that my life is so frustrating that I don't remember to take the Lord into account until after whatever dust raised by our little tempest settles so that I can see him again. And then I feel ashamed and repentant, only to let it happen again.
Believe me my friends when I say I don't know how much longer I can hold out. I ask God time and again to transform my heart into the loving, patient and charitable one his followers preach about in Scripture, but I get shot down when my wife won't follow me into faith. She has no qualms about telling me where I'm stumbling in my walk with Jesus, but won't walk with him, talk to him or even read God's word for herself. She asks our pastoral leadership to pray for whatever she needs prayer for, and asks for their counsel on spiritual matters, but feels silly praying and has no time or patience to read the bible. And when I get excited about what God is doing in my life, she tells me that it's all about me and that she wants to drop out of church or go to another one or stop hosting a small group or whatever because (as I see it) she absolutely cannot give the Lord room to work. Yes, I am supposed to support my wife when she is upset, but am I supposed to completely allow her rash reactions to damage our relationships with fellow believers? Am I supposed to let her have her rants and supercede God's grace because she's in a mood brought on by the supposedly unbiblical way that another fellow believer or our church leaders are behaving, even though her relationship with God himself is at best spotty.
I confess that in making myself available to God to perform his works and shine the Light, I have proven ineffective at sowing the Seed in my own home, but I don't preach ceaselessly and emptily at my family, nor do I punish them by engaging in harmful behaviour like drinking and gambling and socializing with unsavoury characters and adultery and domestic violence. I get frustrated, yes. I yell at my kids more than I should, yes. I resent having the mantle of husband/father/leader in name only. I feel impotent and out of spiritual shape, and I haven't followed Jesus for even a year yet. It always seems I have to choose between God's will and my wife's. I don't want out of my marriage. Let me say it again. I DON'T WANT OUT OF MY MARRIAGE! I just can't seem to build a Christ-centered household if my wife keeps standing in the way and if I can't learn to have patience with her and trust that God is here and is working on the problem.
Today I was shown that there is hope yet. And I thank God for it. Let me break it down. A few months ago, my friend and brother Larry, who has frequent prophetic visions, gathered our senior pastor and I together to share a dream he'd had about me. In that dream, Larry said, I was in a room with several other Christians and was being operated on surgically. The purpose was to alter my ability to reproduce spiritually. In other words, it was a dream that depicts the enemy screwing with me. In recent weeks I have felt the uncomfortable impotence that accompanies the sharing of the Gospel against unhearing ears and unseeing eyes and skeptical, hostile hearts. I have of late felt my level of Holy Spirit waning within me, or that the Spirit's work within me is being blocked and foiled at every turn because my family life is not spotless and centered in the image of Christ as it should be. Basically that my spirit is out of shape in a big way. Then, this past week I had a dream after praying fervently with my home church group that God would grant me wisdom and more effectiveness in my witness of the Gospel. In that dream, our associate pastor's wife was leading me across a field to what was supposedly their home, though I've seen their house and this wasn't it. In the dream, their house was immense and rectangular, more like a warehouse or factory than a dwelling. She told me that she and her husband had built for me a gym in their home. As she led me inside, I saw that some rooms were furnished with antiques, while others were more contemporary. Some of the house was rustic and some of it was modern and it was all very elegant. The gym was equipped with all the practical amenities for strength and fitness training and not filled with unnecessary junk.
I wondered about this dream for a few days, and didn't really connect with its meaning until this morning at church when the pastor (whose wife led me in the dream) spoke from 2 Corinthians chapter 4, which spoke to me that the minds of non-believers are blinded purposefully (by the enemy) from seeing the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that it is, in a nutshell, not our words as Christians that open the veil over their eyes but the Holy Spirit working through us as we witness for him. Not by our ability (or fitness) to convince them with fancy diatribe, but by the Spirit of God flowing from heaven, through Jesus, through us, into the hearts of the unsaved and effectively snatching them from the jaws of hell. Jesus, you are my king! I had forgotten, but it wasn't fancy words that grabbed me last year. It was Holy Spirit himself that came into my very soul and saved me from the lie I was living. Praise him, my brothers and sisters!
Then I came home and everything went for crap. My wife was upset that the worship team had chosen to sing "Jesus Loves Me" at the end of the service and had excluded the younger children. Once again, she was mad enough that she now wants to look for another church where the kids are a part of every service. She says that kids are made to sit for an hour and a half and aren't drawn into the Christian life by the pastoral leaders in ways children can understand or be interested in. Instead the kids are bored and fidgety and all she can do is sit and feel angry instead of taking the message in. As I tried to calm her and suggest ways to make services at our church more child-friendly, or that she should apply for church council or something, I only seemed to be making it worse. Again, because I don't get it! I just don't know what more I can do. I love her. I love my kids. I love my church family. I love the Lord. I certainly am not trying to divert attention away from myself and lay the blame all on my wife. I know I could show a heck of a lot more of his grace and love to them than I do. It just seems that when I try, I'm ineffective and the enemy gets an argument going instead. A tempest in a teapot, as it were. And I let him do it, by letting it frustrate me so easily.
So, I'll ask you all to pray for me and my family in the coming weeks. Pray that I can once and for all repent of the ease with which I slip into frustration and anger. Pray that I can focus more on things above than below, and that I not allow my joy in the Lord be stolen by others, but that it strengthen me and make me shine God's light. Just pray for God's will for my family to be revealed in a glorious and unmistakable way, and that we deepen our relationship with him personally. I for one do not plan on switching churches. I love it here as a member of Kingsfield-Zurich! My fellowship with this church family has been almost a year of the most fulfilling learning of my life. My family has received so much love and encouragement that I can't describe it all. As I continue to push ahead toward my own future ministry, I will be trying to keep my eyes upward and my hands raised high and my wife and family will just have to live with me. They may not like it, but it's time I became the leader of my family in deed as well as word. We will all be better for it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and give my wife and kids a big hug and a kiss.
See you next issue.