Our Story Seven Years Later
My wife and I met in college, started dating, and never looked back. We were engaged my senior year and got married immediately after college. The biggest struggle in our marriage was discipleship.
What does this look like practically?
How can this be accomplished within the framework of two sinners living together in covenant?
Add kids into the mix and the question seems more complicated, right?
My own story was one of gradual change through the constant and loving work of the Spirit. He frequently used basic and overlooked life experiences to change me. It took me a long time to put my arms around this truth.
During my senior year of college I experienced a renewed passion for God. I was reading the Bible and couldn’t get enough of Jesus. I was asking questions and hearing God speak through his word and also enjoying intimate times of prayer.
I was also introduced to some great books which completely shifted the way I thought about the gospel and how it applied to me. In short, I experienced a complete paradigm shift in my Christian life. I wanted my wife to experience the same and my big question was how?
Before getting married I read a dozen or more books on marriage. I felt ready, but old habits die hard. For much of my early Christian life I was legalistic. That sucked the joy right out of fellowship with God in his word and in prayer.
So how did I disciple my new wife? With a spoon full of gospel to help the legalism go down. I tried to force her to enjoy the same things I did. I would move beyond encouraging her and would make her feel guilty if she didn’t cross her t’s and dot her i’s.
This was disastrous not only for her but for me. The Spirit doesn’t work through coercion but by the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). I felt discouraged. She felt badgered.
I never saw the changes in her life which I so passionately desired but that failure tailspinned me into depression and sin. Thankful that was part of God’s gracious purpose in discipling me. He lovingly and patiently rooted out sin in my heart which I my legalistic fervor couldn’t.
Fast forward almost seven years and one almost ruined marriage. It finally hit me. The Spirit works through ordinary means. And it’s the Spirit who works. Life change for others is not our burden to bear.
I had a grasp on a half truth earlier in my marriage. The word and prayer are means of change through the power of the Spirit, but they are used as balm for the hurting soul not weapons to torture the weary soul.
I will continue this series on Wednesday through the month of September.