My Filthy Rags

I had three major confrontations with the Lord in 2001. They began at the women’s Bible study (testimony here) and continued through the summer, when I finally dipped into a pile of articles Doug had given me to read.

Those articles would eventually be life changing, but I didn’t want anything to do with them at first. Oh, I was very happy for him, because he’d finally found a ministry that actually addressed his spiritual need. It was the first time we’d heard anyone use the term sexual addiction, and these men* had testimonies to back up their articles. He felt so much hope, and I was hopeful, too. Maybe, this was the answer we’d been waiting for, and all my suffering would finally be over. 

You see, while I recognized there was a spiritual war going on, I didn’t realize Doug and I each had battles to fight. I thought this war was his war, because it was his fault. If he would just do the right thing, we’d win the war and live happily ever after. Wasn’t I doing my part?  Keep the home fires burning, Caroline! Despite the fact God had been dealing with me all year long, calling me to yield to His will for my life, I just didn’t understand that there was something for me to do. I was sure our problems started with him, and would only end when he stopped living a chronic cycle of Sin-Repent-Repeat. In the meanwhile, I would be the good Christian wife I thought I was and endure this suffering. Isn’t that what longsuffering means?

Wives, God doesn’t call us to endure our husband’s sin. If we’re just holding our own, trying to get better at enduring, we’re wasting our time. That’s as far away from being a help meet as we can get. Yet, I know that’s what most wives think they’re supposed to do: don’t quit on him. Without meaning to, they become his enabler.  

You see there is a difference between godly endurance and human endurance, and too often we confuse them. Godly endurance stands out, because it bears spiritual fruit in both you and him. It doesn’t enable him to stay unchanged and in sin, but instead reminds him that his race isn’t over. We don’t ignore his fall and fail to hold him to account, but urge him to get up (repent) and keep going.  

I’m not sure when I gave in and picked-up an article, but I do remember the words took me by surprise. Like a tsunami. The first article was called, “Why People Remain in Sin and Bondage,” by David Kyle Foster. I remember thinking that maybe this article would help me understand Doug better, but instead it helped me understand myself better. It was an incredible experience. Yes, it was life changing.  I very clearly recall sitting in bed and sensing the presence of Christ beside me. I could see myself next to Him, my head down, looking at the pure white drapes of His robe. It was then I finally saw my filthy rags. I wept, I repented. My eyes were opened. For so long I had seen myself somehow ahead of Doug on this course, but suddenly I realized we were in the same place. I had no advantage over him, because I didn’t struggle with his brand of sin. I was not further ahead, because I had grown-up in Sunday school classes. We were equally wretched sinners, both in need of a Savior. 

Looking back now, I realize that God was preparing me for what was soon to come. If our family was going to survive the onslaught Satan had prepared for us, I was going to have to rise up out of my selfish version of Christianity and become a woman God could actually use. I was going to have to put my flesh in its place, just as much as Doug would—though in very different ways. I was now in the war.

*David Kyle Foster (Pure Passion) and Steve Gallagher (Pure Life Miniseries)

In The Beginning

About 20 years ago, Doug and I were in the battle of our lives. We didn’t know it, but we were at a turning point. How we came through this was going to redefine the rest of our lives. And, though we were battling for the same cause, we were fighting on different fronts. He had his fight, and I had mine.

Of course, I did not understand any of this at the time. From my perspective then, this war was essentially his fault, and his deliverance was going to bring an end to the conflict. That was the focus of my prayer life: that God would deliver him.

However, God had a call on my life that I wasn’t answering. It was the call to be my husband’s help meet. Though I had grown-up in church, I was never taught the true, biblical meaning of the word. I never heard a pastor preach on it, and my premarital counseling never even mentioned it. No one ever told me it was God’s call on every wife’s life. No one ever told me the spiritual responsibility I had, or the spiritual authority God had given me. I wish I’d been equipped from the beginning with all I learned that year, and the years since, because I think it would have made all the difference.

That’s why I blog about it now. I am desperate to see Christian men fulfill the call of God on their lives, but they cannot do it alone. 

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18, KJV

God recognized man’s need, and made woman. However, there is a job to be done here. It is not just a title; a position of honor. It is a calling. 

And, it’s a calling I am still learning to answer. I have an excellent Teacher, but I am a poor student. So, I am learning as I type. I am determined to keep typing, though. I believe there is at least one woman who will read this, receive it, and it will make all the difference for her, her husband, her marriage, her family, and the Kingdom of God. I believe that with all my heart. It is a call that may not be easy, ladies—especially, if your husband is not walking with the Lord. However, it is a ministry unto the Lord. Your obedience to this call has eternal consequences—and, eternal rewards! 

So, yes, I will be writing more on the subject and filing these posts in the “Help Meet” category so they can be easily found.

God bless you tonight. ❤

Starting the New Year

If working hard means getting a good start to the new year, then I think Doug and I have a lot to look forward to in 2019.

We took a working vacation over Christmas and the New Year, which meant we worked at home only, no outside appointments. We stayed up late, and slept as long as possible.

We also hosted an Open House for ministry volunteers, which was a lot of fun.

Doug did throw his back out after Christmas, but I knew it was coming. The week before he had been doing a lot of lifting and moving, and I kept hearing him say, “There’s something funny going on with my back.” I also caught a head cold, but if it stays in my head, it won’t be too bad.

It’s going to be interesting this year, because we are rolling into 2019 with so much already in place. Normally, we spend January seeking the Lord for His course of action, His plan for the ministry. Well, He set the course for us before 2018 ended; we just have to keep doing what we were doing. So, we have a running start. I like it!

You know, I was thinking about the highlights of 2018 the other day. Isaac, our grandson, was definitely a highlight. How God moved in my heart was a highlight. Doug and I arrived at a new place of goodness in our marriage this past year, and that was a highlight.* It was almost like we remembered we were friends. Maybe, working together frustrates friendship. I think it might. And, HopeMail has been a very big highlight, too. I love how that is coming along.

However, my greatest highlight of 2018 is something I wanted to do all year long. I actually did work on it throughout the year, but it wasn’t until just before Christmas that all the pieces fell into place. It may not seem like a big deal, and you will wonder why it took so long, but I managed to finally finish our spare room, making it a place where the grandbabies can hangout and Doug can play his piano.

And, when those two things come together, well, my heart is pretty full.

I am very thankful the Lord did not despair of me in 2018. His kindness overwhelms me. He does love us like a Father, and we know that because He doesn’t love us any less when we’re ornery. It’s almost like He loves us louder, to make sure that in our blindness we don’t lose our way.

* I would feel dishonest if I did not add that I’ve been repeatedly cranky with him the past couple weeks, which is disappointing for me. I’ve had to apologize a lot. I want to blame my thyroid, but I think it’s more likely just ugly sin.