Rebuilding a Marriage

It often comes as a surprise to us that the enemy’s battle in our lives is not about our worship our prayer time or Bible reading; it is in our marriage (Or for singles their immediate family). The battle we fight is not only on the front lines, it is often behind the scenes. There was a wrestling match fought long ago by a man named Jacob that gives a perfect picture of one family’s struggles and ultimate victory.


And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. Genesis 32:24

Previous to this night, Jacob had been a smashing success at everything he wanted to do. He had received His father’s blessing and had tricked his older brother into giving him the inheritance that belonged to the firstborn son. He had married the beautiful woman of his dreams (Though he was tricked into marrying her sister also). He had many sons, and daughters as well as servants and vast flocks of sheep and cattle. But despite his accomplishments Jacob was left alone in the battle of his life.

But before you start to feel sorry for Jacob you need to know that he was alone by choice. When facing the consequences of his earlier deceitfulness with his brother Esau Jacob’s first instinct was for self-preservation. He chose to give away all the blessings he had received. First he sent ahead all the many possessions and servants as gifts to Esau. Then he sent his wives and sons ahead of him with a message that they would be servants for Esau. Not even his beloved Rachel was spared in Jacob’s master plan. But a funny thing happened to him on the way his goal. God said, “Enough!” Jacob wasn’t going to go one more step till the selfishness that had governed his every choice was dealt with. The word tells us that after Jacob had wrestled all night that the angel touched him and weakened him. God saw to it that there would be no more self-important, self-reliant adventures in Jacob’s future.  When the sun rose a different Jacob went to humbly meet his brother and be reunited with his family.

The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.                    Genesis 32:31 ESV

Maybe in our efforts to rebuild our marriage or family relationships we have focused too much on the mechanics of christian disciplines and too little on reliance on God and on each other. So here are a few things to think about.

A) Be encouraged: Even though we feel alone: in reality God is still with us and though we cannot continue as we are, he will stay with us and struggle with us all through the night.

B) Go slowly: A little more limping with our family and a lot less racing ahead alone is a good thing.

 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die.  Genesis 33:13

C) Don’t give up: Though we have done a lot of harm by our selfish stubbornness in the past that doesn’t mean we should be push overs. When God was done struggling with Jacob he changed his name,

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:28

If we allow Him: that same God who has struggled against us will now struggle with us and with his help, we can deal with whatever lies ahead.

Invisible Things

In the storms of life when the shore is nowhere to be found we find ourselves stripped down to just three eternal things: faith,hope and love. God gives us these treasures: not as a prize to be received in heaven but as a light to guide us through.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13

If you are discouraged or even angry at circumstances that seem to be spinning out of control – trust in God’s promise. He loved us so much that He allowed Jesus to die on a very real cross for a world where men put nails through His hands and feet. When no one yet believed He died in Hope of resurrection. When no kindness was offered to Him He offered heaven to a thief and forgiveness to His enemies. When He drew His final breath He trusted His Spirit into His Father’s hands. How can we be afraid to follow Him? There is no stronger hope on earth than His word. There is no other path that leads to Heaven than faith. There will never be a reward more lasting than the mighty Love of Jesus Christ!

Tribute to My Father

As March first is dad’s birthday I was touched to have the tribute which I wrote for him published in Keys to Living this past month. It has been almost nine years since dad stepped across the threshold into heaven but I am posting this as an encouragement to anyone passing through a time of grief or struggling in their relationship with a parent. The good news is that God is the perfect parent and helps us even when we don’t know that He is near:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.                                        2 Timothy 1:5 ESV

Dad never had the chance to take me fishing or hunting. We never went to the beach together and he never taught me how to ride a bike. In fact I had seen my father only twice before the day where we met face to face at family court room and a judge decided our future.


The judge’s ruling came with a signature on paper but building a relationship without the experience of years together was a battle. As a confused and often selfish teen I fought regularly with Dad about my long hair and the Vietnam War. But miraculously, six years later; there was Dad with Amy, my step-mom at my wedding. Just a year later they returned to hold our first-born son Chris and again two years later for our youngest, Ben.

As the boys grew older we shared picnics and church pews. Wonderfully we found that all the things we never had the chance of doing, we did together with Chris and Ben. We chuckled at Dad’s slow driving, silly jokes and gentle answers but we admired the faith that kept him going through years of caring for Amy as Parkinson’s slowly robbed her mind, and strength. He turned down outside help, because he felt that it was both his duty and privilege. Later after she passed into God’s presence, we couldn’t understand but had to accept that he chose to live alone. Alone, he never missed his church where he served as head usher and his well-worn Bible was continuously filled with notes and Bible study outlines.

When I wondered how he could do it all, I recalled a day he told me of a day during WW2. In his duties with an artillery battery. He explained that his duty was to calibrate the trajectory for each shell and on that morning as he checked over his coordinates he discovered to his horror that he had made a terrible mistake. Just as the gun was getting ready to fire he realized that the target range was far short of enemy lines and that American GI’s were in his gun’s sights. “Wait!” he called out, and the gun was not fired. Precious lives were spared. How strange that in the middle of war, Dad’s favorite memory was that he was able to save lives.

All of us miscalculate many things about life. Dad has helped me to discover that it is okay to own up to our own weaknesses and failures. Today my hope is no longer based on having a perfect situation or family. Today I sit in his chair and live in the house that once was his home and I am learning to trust in the Savior who guided Him safely home; recalibrated and right on target!

war museum perspective army

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