Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O LORD, have done it. Psalm 109:27
I pray the Lord will help me as I take you the long way to get there, but the bottom line is that I did not marry the other woman because deep inside I knew that would be wrong. Charlyne and I were divorced, and the world and the law were saying to go on, but something was reminding me that I was still married.
I acknowledge that no two situations are the same. What your absent spouse is feeling might be totally different, but it does not take a NASA scientist to know there was something wrong when I was in another man’s home, attempting to make his kids happy, sitting at his table, eating food bought with his child support money, watching the television that his labor purchased, being the joy of his forsaken wife’s life — and more. Meanwhile, my heartbroken wife and our three children were literally struggling to survive while they prayed that a husband and dad would come to his senses and come back home where he belonged.
Sadly, most married people who walk out on a spouse have or will become involved with someone else. The natural progression of continued dating is toward marriage. Even though your absent spouse may desire that illicit arrangement to continue status quo, I can assure you that third person in your marriage is pushing and pushing toward marriage.
Those other people put prodigals under enormous pressure to get married. A praying spouse who is standing with God is a threat to a sinful relationship. These other people feel they can gain control if they are able to pressure the other person into marrying them. There is one big problem. God does not recognize these adulterous relationships as marriages, and He continues to convict the prodigal of his or her sinful ways, regardless of what the records down at the courthouse record.
Prodigals are handed ultimatums by that other person. We can walk out on a covenant husband or wife without even looking back, but tremble when the counterfeit hands down an “or else” dictate. From personal experience, the church that the other person and I were attending (yes, prodigals attend church and listen to preachers declare Truth to other people), had a new sanctuary under construction. It was to be finished by Easter that year. I was told that we would be married before that date or our relationship would end.
I was also ordered to “get over” Charlyne before that time. How could a person I had known for only months be dictating that I “get over” a wife of 19 years?
Much of what I went through will not be disclosed, but I feel led to share one incident that will always be remembered. The other person and I were finishing dinner at an Italian restaurant when I was paged by my employer. Back then, cell phones were still tethered inside automobiles, so I left my credit card on the table and went searching for a pay phone. When I returned, my dinner companion handed me the credit card and a receipt. “I just wanted to see how it will look,” she explained.
I opened the receipt to see “Mrs. Robert E. Steinkamp” signed on it. I had never before seen that written in anyone’s handwriting except Charlyne’s. It just did not look right. I felt trapped. My indigestion that night did not come from Italian food, but from the thought there might soon be a “Mrs. Robert E. Steinkamp” who was not really “Mrs. Robert E. Steinkamp.”
Sometime later, I heard a quote on the car radio that touched me deeply and has become one of my favorites. Martyred missionary Jim Elliot is quoted as having said, “A man is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The Holy Spirit revealed to me that I was giving up Charlyne, whom I could not lose, for someone else, a counterfeit wife, whom I could not keep.
Can you see what the Holy Spirit of God was doing, in response to Charlyne’s prayers? He was sending arrow after arrow of His Truth to me and continued to do so until the bubble of selfishness that surrounded me was destroyed. That is when this prodigal came home.
As a stander, please do not feel that your prayers have been unsuccessful or that you have failed in marriage restoration if your spouse enters a non-covenant relationship. You have failed only if you give up. It is our Lord God’s reputation that is on the line, not yours, and He will do exactly what He promised you, but in His timing and not in man’s.
Here are my Five P’s to help you when you are faced with your mate’s non-covenant marriage:
Pray — Learn how to pray for your spouse who is being pressured into marriage.
Proposal — Remember, that other person most likely proposed marriage, not your mate.
Peace — Get the peace of God that He has your mate in His hands today, regardless of what words may have been mumbled to someone else. God is saying that you and your beloved are still married.
Purpose — Refocus your purpose in standing. Is it to get even with the other person and bring your mate home, or is it that all involved will come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Promise — Reclaim the promises that God has given you and hold fast to them. God never changes.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:50
Because He lives,