When my wife stopped fighting me about my obsession toward work, as well as other issues, she unleashed a powerful force in my life, though neither of us understood it at the time.
Independent of me, Norma learned how to get in line and bring her needs to God. Rather than complain to me, she prayed, “Lord, thank you that all I need it you. You know I want a good relationship with Gary and that I want him to spend more time at home. You also know that I’m not very strong physically. I’m so tired that I don’t feel I can last much longer under this strain. I’m coming to you with these requests because I know that if I need Gary at home, you can make it happen. Or you can take away my desire for him to be home. I’m going to stop fighting Gary and instead ask you either to change him or to meet my needs in some other way.”
To find God’s fulfillment, Norma took steps similar to those I later discovered. She stopped expecting life from me and started looking to God. She realized I not only would not, but could not, energize her life, so she went to the source of life and asked him to energize her.
The results were startling. I noticed the change almost immediately. When I came home from work, I sensed a calm spirit in our house. Norma’s face was peaceful, no longer tense. Instead of the usual harsh words, her conversation was quiet and she was more interested in asking me how my day had gone that in relating her activities with the children.
It was in that context that Norma talked to me about her need for help. A few days later, I couldn’t keep from asking what had happened. “Gary, I got tired of fighting you,” she explained calmly. “I realized that I wasn’t trusting God concerning our marriage and family, and so I decided to stop complaining and start praying. I’ve told God that I would like you to spend more time at home, and if I really need that, I know God will make the necessary changes.”
Imagine what that did to me. I was instantly convicted that my priorities were wrong. And that wasn’t all. Because Norma had changed, I wanted to spend more time at home. That was the week I asked Bill to change my job so I could spend more time meeting my family’s needs.
What Norma did summarizes the conclusion of the first four chapters of this book. She stopped looking to people, things, and her work, and turned instead to a trustworthy God who answers the persistent prayers of his children. God promises life-and God delivers!
Some may think Norma just disguised her selfishness by asking God to change me instead of nagging me to change. I disagree. I encourage wives to ask God for a good relationship with their husbands and children. That request is not selfish. A good relationship benefits not only the wife, but the entire family, the Christian community, and ultimately our nation and the entire world. It also glorifies God, because a godly marriage is a picture or our relationship with Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 5:22-25).
Once we’re into the habit of seeking fulfillment from the world, we won’t learn overnight to look to God as the source of life. It took Norma and me several years before looking to the Lord became our natural, first response, and we still catch ourselves focusing on someone or something other than God.
The procedure we follow for obtaining our life from God is not magic. Neither does it need to be kept legalistically, like a scientific formula. These are simply guidelines we have followed from which we hope you can learn and then adapt to your unique situation. God creates us as individuals, not as carbon copies, so put your own fingerprints on the steps that follow.
Used with Permission.
by Gary Smalley, Smalley Relationship Center