A number of years ago we took a trip to Kenya, Africa to visit our son and daughter-in-law who were living there at the time. We pray we’ll never forget the many things we learned while we were there in Africa.
As we thought of this Marriage Insight we thought we’d like to share with you a few marriage thoughts that the Lord gave to us during our trip. You don’t have to go to Africa to learn these lessons, but it sure did help us.
First Cindy will share what God impressed upon her heart. And then I’ll share what made a lasting impression upon mine. We pray they will minister to you and to your marriage, as well.
Life and Marriage Lessons Learned in Africa
While visiting Africa, our son introduced us one day to a man whose name is Peter. He had/has been a great friend to him. Our son told us what a great guy he was, and how helpful he had been to him. Plus he expressed to us how much respect he had for him.
But what especially touched our hearts was what occurred after our initial greeting. Peter turned to Steve and asked him, “Tell me brother, are you born-again?” Steve said, “Why yes I am; and so is Cindy.” Peter rejoiced with us in the Lord. And then he said, “I ask everyone I meet that question. That is because I want everyone to know my Jesus.” That statement touched our heart deeply. Oh, if only we were all that bold to tell others about Jesus!
Our conversation together was wonderful. But what especially impressed us was the fact that our son, who is a prodigal, held such admiration for this godly man. As a matter of fact, it seemed like everywhere we turned, God brought believers our way.
I wish we could share all of our experiences. But during our time in Africa God showed us continual glimpses that behind the scenes He was at work in our son’s life. For years we didn’t SEE Him working in our son’s life. But behind the scenes He was very busy. Some people call that a “God Wink.” We call(ed) them “God Sitings.” Whatever it is, thank you Jesus for that glimpse!
Marriage Lessons Learned in Africa
There are two main lessons that we learned through this. One is that we can’t always trust in what we think is happening. Appearances can be deceiving. As I said, for years, we prayed but didn’t see God working in our son’s life. But in that span of time, God opened His hands and gave us a glimpse of some of the ways He was working behind the scenes. We were amazed! And we were humbled.
If you have a prodigal child, family member, or a prodigal spouse, keep praying and trusting God. Even if you can’t see God working, put your trust in the fact that He is. Keep praying and believing. God does not always show us evidence of what He is doing. He doesn’t have to. It is a special gift when He does. That’s all a part of this faith walk we are traveling on this side of heaven. God expects us to trust Him. He expects us to have faith in Him, no matter what. F.A.I.T.H. = Forsaking All I Trust Him!
God IS trustworthy, and there is no One better to place our trust in than God!
And secondly, while in Africa:
This event illustrated to me what it says in Matthew 5:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“
Just as Peter was one of the many “lights” in our son’s life, you can be a “light” in this world as well. You may be the only “light” that your spouse will pay attention to… You never know. Who knows how God will use you? I saw how God used us, and my brother Rick’s wife Linda, to be lights to him in his prodigal walk. Eventually, God drew my brother to Himself through these lights. He eventually gave his life completely to Christ.
Even in our imperfectness, God used us. (My brother told us so.) And if He can use us, He can certainly use you. Please clear the path so He can do so. Follow God closely and He can use you in amazing ways.
It is our prayer that you treat you spouse in such godly ways, that when others who don’t know God in a personal way, see how you live within your marriage, they will want to know our God better!
We’d like to pose a few questions to you. Do you allow the light of the Lord to shine brightly in how you treat your spouse? Do your words and actions benefit “everyone in the house” (and outside of it)?
It’s not too difficult to treat your spouse in a positive way when things are going smoothly. But the challenge comes when your spouse upsets you. Are you dimming the “light” of your countenance by your actions? Are you putting God’s light under a “bowl” of resentment and toxic behavior? Or are you choosing to let God’s light come through?
It’s not that you can’t ever get upset. It’s common to have upsets in marriage. Here is a link to a short, humorous clip on a wife that doesn’t always “light up” in their marriage. It happens:
(Sorry about the one swear word.) But the point is that there is a difference between respectfully handling what needs to be done and handling your “upsets” in toxic ways. Think about it; pray about it. Does God’s light shine through your words and actions?
I pray that God will work in your life in such a way, that your spouse and others will see your “good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“ (For further reflection, read 1 Peter 3, and Ephesians 5:8-17. Also read, 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11.)
OTHER LESSONS LEARNED IN AFRICA:
In Kenya, I was reminded that if we’re going to truly succeed at anything it’s going to require perseverance. At the time of our visit a large percentage of Kenyans were out of work. To them, perseverance meant finding enough food and necessities to survive another day. They had a different measuring stick entirely for determining success.
And yet we couldn’t get over the smiles we encountered everywhere we went. It seemed like everywhere we turned in Africa people asked us if we “liked” their country. When we would say that we did, their smiles grew larger. It was obvious that they were thrilled! This was a real lesson for us. As we persevere it’s important not to lose our “smile” along the way. It’s especially difficult to do this when we’re hurting. But it’s still important.
How I apply this to marriage is that if we want our marriages to succeed, it will mean having an attitude of perseverance. In spite of the problems that come our way, if we persevere and apply God’s principles, we WILL survive. It may be just one hour at a time. But in God’s strength, we can make it.
No matter what, however, lets try NOT to lose our smile along the way. We’re told in the Bible that laughter is good medicine. He wants us to apply it to our lives. And if you see someone (especially your spouse) without a smile, give them one of yours. That way, you’ll both feel better.
Also, Make Sure You Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to cling to Galatians 6:9. In this scripture the Apostle Paul says, “Do not become weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.“ The determination to persevere in marriage has little to do with “feelings.” Feelings can deceive us. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.
In his book, Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson made this comment in talking about his wife Darlene:
“My love for my wife is constant. But my feelings for her are far different during an argument than they are during a candlelight dinner. Yet it’s important that we don’t measure the depth of our relationship by feelings at any particular moment.”
I sure can relate! There are times when my feelings for Cindy are deeper than the deepest ocean. But there are other times, when I’m barely treading water. I’m determined, however, that though my feelings may change—my love and my commitment won’t. I thank God that He is faithful to help me to live this mission.
And just like those who were in Africa shared their smiles with us, we work to let God’s smile come forth in our life together as we persevere. We hope you will too.
This is our prayer for you:
“May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.“ (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
We ask God to:
“Fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.“ (Colossians 1:9-10)
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, giving you “smiles” and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below to do so:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Insights