IT WORKS FOR OTHERS, TOO
I was telling this story to a group of people recently at a conference. The next day, a lady told me her story.
She had had continuous headaches for several years. Medical tests and x-rays could not isolate the cause. Medication didn’t help. After listening to my story, she went to her room and told God how she hated the snake of a husband she had divorced several years ago.
She realized she was only punishing herself nursing hatred toward someone who was 3,000 miles away. She asked Jesus to come into her life and give her His Spirit and take the hate away.
She said, “This is the first day in several years that I didn’t have a headache.” Four days later, she was still free from her headache.
About a year ago, another lady approached me about her husband. They had been married some twenty years. They were active in religious circles. He was even an elder in the church. But he kept a bottle of vodka in his office and was usually tipsy when he came home. He demanded a hot meal every night, even though his arrival time was unpredictable. Then he expected her to sit with him to watch television and pour his drinks for him.
SHE HAD ENOUGH
Since the children were out of the house, this relationship had become unbearable. She had never complained to her husband, she said, and faithfully served him. But, she was consumed with rebellion and resentment and anger. She couldn’t stand it much longer!
I pointed out to her that she had two problems. Her husband was obviously one of them. He was inconsiderate, selfish, and demanding. But her most serious problem was what went on underneath her skin.
“But I have served him faithfully,” she protested. It did appear that her behavior was beyond criticism. She doggedly was living up to the letter of the law. But, God’s Spirit was missing.
“But, my husband just thinks about himself.”
I listen to this line of reasoning constantly. “My inner life is caused by people or circumstances. How else do you expect me to respond? Am I supposed to enjoy such treatment? Haven’t I put up with this long enough? Don’t I deserve some consideration, too?”
This dear lady was convinced that her inner life was in the hands of her husband. Several months later, I received a letter from her. It is printed here (in part):
Nothing has changed in our marriage, but I am contented. I felt so angry with you for what you said to me about myself—but you were right!
Before that I hadn’t really recognized my own sin. God had to do some throwing down in my life, and that is never easy at the time, but the result is beautiful if you are submissive to the strong hand of God.
He has forgiven and cleansed and filled my heart with joy. I praise Him for this mercy and grace. Once again, I want to say “thank you” from the depths of my heart.
This letter comes from a lovely young lady who had a breakdown, and when I saw her, she was a nervous wreck. Parts of her letter tell the story:
I told you my problem was not being invited to join the Junior League, and I really had a hangup about this.
I’d never been interested enough to do all the work and buttering up to League members that it took to get in, so I didn’t make it. I was extremely disappointed.
I’ve never felt as crushed or deeply hurt over anything. Most of my friends are members of this group, and I felt completely rejected. I felt guilty that I let my family down and especially my daughter.
I cried and cried over this for hours at a time. So many people could have helped me, and I got mad at them. You helped me to see that I even had the audacity to get mad at Almighty God. Even though I have a Christian husband, a lovely family, and most every material thing I want, I was miserable. I had told God to just take my life.
I kept telling you my problem was getting left out of the League, and you kept telling me my problem was my attitude toward what happened.
During my second session with you, I asked God to give me his perfect peace. I can’t tell you exactly how it happened. The situation remained the same, but God erased all the hurt feelings from me.
I literally felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. Then, I wondered if the peace would last. He brought to my mind that part of John 14, where he says: “My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives give I unto you.”
I’d always thought this verse was just for funerals! Only a couple of times in these three years have I felt a little pang of the old hurt, but each time I immediately thanked God for the peace He’d given me and claimed it.
God even changed my “wants” so that I honestly can’t imagine how I ever desired this. Hope this doesn’t sound pious.
Another letter tells the same story:
Several years ago, I came to see you for help with my resentment over my husband’s insistence on my working in his store when I wanted to spend my time in church work.
You dealt with me about my wretched attitude and I didn’t like it. But, I thought it over and came home determined that my work in the store would be a labor of love.
Of course, you know that God filled me with His peace and joy as I worked in the store and worked at being a better wife. It surely is true that our joy is dependent on our relationship with Christ rather than our circumstances or other people—isn’t it?
My husband changed his mind about a year ago and agreed that I should get involved in ladies home Bible studies. It’s a fine ministry. I thank the Lord that you were honest enough to tell me my faults.
NORMAN LOOKED LIKE A WILD MAN
When Norman first came to see me he looked like a wild man, with sharp, piercing eyes. The muscles in his face were all tightened up; he drummed his fingers on the tables and jerked his knee constantly. He was a hard, unyielding man. No one crossed him without getting a blast of his vicious temper: His big, strong, heavy-set body made him look dangerous indeed.
But underneath all that was a soul that longed for peace and a quiet heart. Oh, he argued with me for many months, but today—four years later—this man has quieted down, has a compassionate spirit, and has become increasingly considerate of others. He let God come into his life and clean out that nastiness and replace it with quietness.
THE BRILLIANT ENGINEER
Ellery is a brilliant engineer. But he didn’t come to see me because he had a sprawling home nestled in 200 acres of rolling hills, a jet plane, and a prosperous manufacturing plant that produced more money than he knew what to do with.
He came because he was tired of being an “old crab.” His explosive temper made life miserable for his family and employees.
Golf, tennis, good food, travel, and elite surroundings didn’t help. He needed to be born again and then allow Jesus to give him His peace.
He couldn’t buy it. He had to reach out an empty hand and receive salvation like everyone else. He struggled a long time over this simple proposition, clinging to his insistence that business pressures were his problem, and he was searching for a way to manage himself.
He finally gave up, and reached out that empty hand to receive from God the gift freely given through Jesus.