My Learning About Faith Story
After one year at ETSU in Commerce, Texas, a job opened up in Carthage, Texas, Dean of Special Services at Panola Junior College. Jim welcomed this job to pay our mounting debt, so we moved. He worked all day, planned and supervised classes at night, and drove back the 150 miles to Commerce on Saturdays to complete two courses he lacked for his degree. Thus began our adventure in learning what faith was all about.
Jim became a walking zombie, drained of all zeal for living. Since returning from Vietnam, he’d had no downtime: marriage three weeks after returning home, then children, school, and now more school with a very demanding job. He excelled at every challenge, coaching football while a student and seeing them go to bowl games. He started a wrestling program after he started teaching, and took them to state. But now, he had nothing left to give.
FEAR got my attention. I became honest with myself and asked the Lord, “What does our future hold?” Immediately, I could see if things continued as they were, I would be a single mother.
My Psalm One Man of Faith
For the first time, I began to diligently pray. I made a firm, quality, conscious choice to pray every day for my husband, even if he was the only person I ever prayed for. A devotional in the book, God Calling, compiled by A. J. Russell, spoke loud and clear to me. It said that when Jesus called His disciples, he had known them for a period of time. Then, one day as He walked along the seashore, He said, “Come, follow Me.”
The Holy Spirit revealed to me that to follow Jesus, to be his disciple, meant being disciplined–disciple being the root word of “discipline.” After asking God for wisdom (James 1:5) in how to pray, I was led to read the first Psalm. I knew this is what I needed to pray. I praised and thanked God every day for my Psalm-One man. I told Jim, “I’ve given you to the Lord. It’s up to Him to help you now.”
At the same time, the words from Evelyn Christenson’s book, Lord Change Me, rang in my head, “Lord, don’t change my husband, don’t change my children, Lord, change me.” Reluctantly, I added that to my prayer.
Whenever there was bad news to bear, I turned my head to washing dishes or folding clothes. Through my tears, I repeated back to God, these memorized Words, claiming Psalm 1:1-3 from the Amplified version of the Bible:
Blessed-happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable-is the man (my Jim) who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, not sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law-the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God-he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth his fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not fade or wither, and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].
Believe that You Receive
As I praised the Lord every day for my Psalm-One Man, “a strong tree planted by the water bearing fruit in his season,” Mark 11:23-24 came alive to me, that I would “receive” whatever I “said,” whether it was negative or positive. I realized I’d better make sure what I said day in and day out was in agreement with what I believed God for.
I meditated on James 1:6. It says, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
My priority in life became to trust God to “guard my mouth,” (Ps. 141:3) while replacing my words with Psalm 1. As one thing led to another, I discovered 2 Corinthians 10:5 that says we are to bring every ‘thought’ captive to the obedience of Christ. So, to guard my mouth meant I had to guard my thoughts before they could come out of my mouth. Talk about discipline! But, it was worth it.
In a matter of weeks, Jim came home one Saturday, excited and enthusiastic about God’s Word, actually preaching to me. I could hardly believe the change I was witnessing before my eyes of what God was doing, and so quickly. It seems the real estate agent who found the rental home for us had given him some teaching tapes. He listened to them as he traveled to and from Commerce on Saturdays.
“I’ve tried to change you for ten years, and now it’s up to the Lord.” Jim said to me.
Oh really? He said he had already noticed that I was somehow different. He didn’t know about my prayer or of the dream the Lord had given me:
My Egg Dream
The dream was one of those loving disciplines from a heavenly Father that sears the soul without hurting, and you cannot tell anyone. It was one of those hiding-in-the-heart kind of things. Before completely waking one morning, I saw an egg with a soft center. The word WORDS!– like heat from all sides-kept hitting the egg until the yolk was hard.
Then I saw a hand, God’s hand, envelop that egg. God impressed upon me these words, “I can work the impossible. I can take that egg and make it soft again. I can make out of it whatever I want. I can make scrambled eggs, poached, over-easy, or put it with something else to make a tempting dessert.”
I thought, I didn’t know my words were causing Jim’s heart to harden against me, but they were. I’m a pretty laid-back person, but I found my words did not have to be loud or angry to be destructive. Again, God revealed to me that His Word is an attitude book, not just a book of commandments to live by. It’s a book of Love.
Faith is Not Feeling
I found that God’s love in us loves as He loves, unconditionally. Jesus gives us love we don’t deserve and have not earned, because He believes and trusts His Father for the best in us. Likewise, He requires the same of us-to believe for the best in others, especially our mate. The Holy Spirit revealed to me if I truly believed to receive my husband as the Psalm-One Man, I had to treat him as though he were already that man, “perceiving as real fact what was not yet revealed to my senses” (Heb. 11:1 Amplified). In other words, faith is not feeling. My actions had to back up what I was receiving from the Lord.
By faith, I began to see Jesus in Jim. I began to direct my actions toward him as though they were toward Jesus. The words from the Bible “as unto the Lord,” grew in meaning for me.
Only then, did things change–the feeling arrived later.
Jim and I discovered that the mystery that brought unity and communication into our marriage and changed it so drastically is grounded in faith. The transformation we were experiencing came from a “mutual submission,” which we later found in the Bible: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit [respect] to your husbands as to the Lord . . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:21, 22, 25 emphasis added).
We found when we prayed about something before talking to each other, we connected. Getting God in the triangle of our relationship brought agreement. If we didn’t agree on a matter, we learned God probably was not in it, and we saved the decision until we agreed-or threw it out. For the first time in ten years, we began to seek the Lord together and to come before Him with our needs for our family and future.
One evening, as we were seated on the couch, Jim prayed, “Lord, I wish I could have just one year to study your Word.” My eyes shot open while he finished praying, and I thought, Oh no, Lord! What’s going to happen now?
HERE is your exercise: MODULE 4 EXERCISE
Here is your B-E-A-R Facts of Faith Laminate