There comes a time in every restoration where it happens. It may happen five minutes after your spouse returns home, or it may be five years later. The one you love will say or do something, and you will think, “Nothing has changed. It’s the same as before.”
Something has changed. God brought your loved one home. He has restored your family and continues to do that work. You will continue to see changes each day if you stay obedient to the Lord, calling on Him for His help.
Bob and I were visiting a church in Memphis one Sunday. The Lord had a special blessing in store for us as the choir and drama team portrayed the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal son entered that large sanctuary about 10 feet from our seats. We saw the father standing, and waiting for his prodigal to come home. When they saw each other, the father started toward his son, who was not cleaned up, but instead was dirty, hungry, and weary.
What rejoicing was seen as the two embraced and wept right in front of us.
Bob later remarked that the prodigal son we had observed honestly portrayed how he felt the day he came home. Prodigals do come home, but they seldom come home cleaned up. You need to accept and love your returned prodigal, with the same unconditional love shown while your spouse was away from home.
The Holy Spirit, who brought your spouse home, has just begun a great work of cleansing and restoration in your family.
“’I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.’” Ezekiel 36:24-27
I always tried to remember that no matter what was happening, my spouse was home with our family. Remember all those prayers you prayed for your spouse to be home. Love them unconditionally. It is the Lord’s business to change them, not yours.
There are going to be disagreements and small setbacks. You are two sinners, striving to make a marriage work. You may feel that you’ve really blown it some days. Allow the Lord to dust you off, prop you up with His Word and go on.
A scripture that may describe your struggles is found in Romans 7: So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:21-25
Only through our Lord Jesus Christ can we change and become all that He desires us to be.
I wish I could say that the Steinkamps are perfect, but we are not. Bob and I failed God or each other in some way every day. Either one of us could have said, “Why try?” many times.
The Lord showed me years ago, shortly after Bob returned home, to give every complaint or criticism to Him. Every time I was tempted to complain to my husband, I would tell my Lord in a short prayer. I would see Bob change and apologize for not being what he should be. I saw the Lord working. That was all I needed. I decided to let go and let God do the work on my returned prodigal husband. God never fails.
I hear from people who successfully loved their prodigal spouse with unconditional love during their stand. Now that their prodigal has come home, the unconditional love has ended. They attempt to hold the returning spouse to a standard that they cannot attain right now. The returned prodigal does not have a license to run free, but you should allow God to make the changes, not you.
Your spouse has not been your enemy during your stand. Your spouse is certainly not your enemy now that you are reconciled. Satan has always been and continues to be the only real threat coming against your home.
In the days ahead, you and your spouse will discover the power you have together to defeat the enemy.
“Nothing has changed” is a lie. Something has drastically changed. Your marriage is being restored. Listen to the Holy Spirit and seek His help and guidance. We have the power in the name of the Lord.