Dennis and Rose were both widowed. The story of God’s love for them after the death of their spouses was shared on the “Calling Couples to Christ” blog a few months ago.
This is Dennis’ story of his marriage to his first wife, Therese…
After 10 years of marriage, my wife wanted out. She sought and was granted a civil divorce. I knew that God expected me to honor my marriage vows until death separated (cf. Rom 7:2). Marriage is a covenant between husband, wife and God. Even if one spouse ignores the marriage vows, God honors the covenant. He expects husbands and wives to do the same. I believed what God said about marriage and I knew that I had to honor my part of the covenant. I knew that if God had called me to the vocation of marriage, I could depend on Him to provide me with the grace to do so. I knew that God would lead me through the desert of divorce to the Promised Land of a restored marriage. If I was to enter that Promised Land, I had to walk in faith with God to possess it.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 RSVCE
With the Lord at my side, I stood for the healing of my marriage. The story of the Israelites escape from oppression in Egypt and subsequent journey through the desert taught me that God is faithful in keeping His promises. God was a partner in my marriage covenant so I walked in faith. I faced opposition from family, friends and even fellow Christians. Like the Israelites, God never failed to meet my needs during my desert experience. Time after time He demonstrated His love for me and my family. I knew that someday I would reach the Promised Land.
After eight years, and many detours along the journey, God brought my wife home. I had reached the Promised Land of a restored marriage. I believed in the promises of God. I challenged those who thought I should have “gotten on with my life.” If God had not been pleased with my actions, He would not have let me enter the Promised Land. But the journey was far from over. The totality of God’s plan for our marriage was yet to be fully accomplished.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Two years after my family was restored, my wife started to have shortness of breath (she was a long time aerobics instructor). She became easily tired just walking up the stairs in our home. The doctors determined that radiation treatments for lymphoma 25 years earlier had caused scar tissue around her heart and one lung. The scar tissue was preventing proper heart function. Attempts to remove the scar tissue failed. The doctors described the scar tissue as being like “concrete.”
I spent as many hours as I could with my wife in the hospital. I took care of her every need from helping her with physical and occupational therapy to cleaning tracheotomy tubes. One night after dressing bed sores and wiping her bottom, my wife looked at me with loving eyes and said, “This is what love is.” It was at that moment that my wife came home emotionally, not just physically, to a loving husband that would not give up. Within four months, the cure for cancer claimed her life.
During our divorce, I told my wife that I would always be there for her. She must have known that she did not have long to live and knew that I would take care of her. Inspired by God’s faithfulness to the Israelites, I kept the vows that I made to my wife on our wedding day. God was with me throughout the journey and continues to walk with me today.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations… Deuteronomy 7:9
In the words of poet Robert Frost, “Two roads diverged in a wood…I took the one less traveled…and that has made all the difference.” God was with me every step of the journey. I praise Him for His love, mercy and faithfulness. He brought good out of an impossible situation in the eyes of the world. I believed in the promises of God and not in my problems. God brought me through the desert of divorce to the Promised Land of a restored marriage. And “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” (Gen 1:31).
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (emphasis added)
What is your “love story?” How has God blessed you in your marriage? God can use both the good and the bad in our marriages for the benefit of others. Share your story with those God brings into your life. You never know how God might use your story to encourage someone as He has done with me.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up… 1 Thessalonians 5:11
May the light of Christ shine brightly in your marriage and your witness to His love.