Nick and Nora had an attractive home, two cats, two trucks, and two hard, one-hour commutes. In their five years of marriage they had many opportunities to feel isolated in their personal struggles. Though they love each other, they often felt disconnected. Both of them were frustrated, but didn’t know how to break the cycle. It took a trip to another culture to do that.
With twenty-eight others, they journeyed into a remote area of the Central American mountains. They built houses, taught children, fed the hungry. Little did they know that God would choose that remote place to reignite their love and pour fresh life into their struggling marriage.
It happened on the last night they were on the mountain. The whole team met for several hours to pray, and to cement the lessons they learned while they were away from the familiar. That night Nick and Nora experienced a breakthrough.
Let me interrupt their story to do a little explaining. There are breakthrough moments in our lives. They can come gently and gradually, like the dawn, or with the intensity of a sudden thunderstorm. But they come. When they do, change begins. We’re like one of those “before and after” commercials, except that our “before and after” is real, not a Photoshopped fantasy.
Breakthroughs are usually emotional. Sometimes, very emotional. That is normal and, I think, necessary. For how can we have any transforming experience in life without emotion?
People in the Bible, both Old Testament and New, wept, laughed, jumped for joy, and fell down on their faces . . . all in response to God and his Word. It’s an emotional book, this Bible of ours.
Even so, emotion is the catalyst, not the core of a breakthrough. The core is a change of heart and direction. That’s why breakthroughs are wasted without follow through. Seeing God’s truth can stun us, unsettle us, and bring us to repentance and new resolution. But we have to continue living in the truth to experience real and lasting transformation.
Now back to Nick and Nora. That night on the a remote mountain, Nora began weeping. Nick crossed the room and put his strong arms around her. In that one moment, Nick stepped out of an emotional and spiritual isolation that had lasted since his youth. Breakthrough? You can count on it. Both of them will tell you that they are radically different . . . closer, and together in ways they never before experienced.
Best of all, they’re trusting God together. Before the breakthrough they attended church, but they had little spiritual intimacy. Now they pray together and are believing God together for their future. They hope that future includes more trips to other countries. But they know that whatever God has in their future, they will embrace it together.
Trusting God together has some great benefits:
We learn to submit to each other without defensiveness. Isolated in our own separate worlds, we defend our positions, and are not very open to our partner’s opinions or concerns. Trusting God together, we can hear each other and respond in positive ways.
We learn to help each other when one of us feels down. When we aren’t trusting God together, we don’t support each other. More isolation. Here’s one of Nick’s recent insights: “I discovered that when Nora has a low day my job is not to walk away, or yank her out of the problem, but come near and help her up. I have a long way to go, but I am learning.”
We learn to trust God patiently, through the process, through the questions, through the doubts. Trusting God together doesn’t always bring quick solutions. It does mean we can discover the right way to go, and go that way in step. Like Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors, and his wife said, “We don’t know where we are going, but we are going there together.”
So, where are you right now? Are you, as a couple, trusting God together? If so, keep it up, and spread the joy. Perhaps you once trusted God together, but you let some disappointment or irritation break that link. Now, you’re full of tension and isolated. Why not restore that broken link? Joy awaits!
Maybe you have never trusted God together. It’s possible. Many couples, some of them even longtime followers of Jesus, have never become a spiritual team. They’re like two kids in the same sandbox, but building separate castles. Lots of competition, lots of comparisons, but no cooperation, only an underlying desire to make their castle the biggest. God didn’t call you to such separation. He called you together, to serve Him together, to trust Him together. If you never have, you know little true joy in your marriage.
In Amos 3:3, the prophet asks this question: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” Nick and Nora have a life of challenges ahead of them, but they have resolved to trust God together. Let’s follow their example and watch for the positive results.