Steven Furtick - How To Save Your Husband
I've entitled this message "How to Save Your Husband" somewhat playfully, but I want to speak very seriously about these subjects in the few moments we have remaining. How to save your husband. How did the two become one, and then the one become two? I was talking to a friend who was going through a divorce a couple of years ago. He said, "I'm so ashamed. I never thought I'd be having this conversation. I counsel other people who went through this, and I always, in my heart, wondered how it could come to this. I never thought I'd be on this side of the conversation".
And it is baffling to think about how we go from in a relationship, having the kind of passion that would cause two people to want to merge their identities, and often that same relationship, that same couple will end up only speaking through attorneys. How does that happen? You know, it says it's a profound mystery how two become one. I think it's an equally profound mystery how the one can become two. How can you go from using your entire data plan and all your minutes just to hear the other person breathe? You're not even saying anything during the dating phase. I just want to hear your breath and we just sit with one another and wake up at all kinds of hours during the night to call one another, if necessary, during that stage of the relationship to we can't even sit down in a room and work out the division of our assets together or decide on the future of our kids. How does this happen?
Now, I want to say a few things before I give you these points, and we won't be here long. I mean, I'm going to be respectful of your time, but I need to be careful because I take my job seriously, and I don't want to say stuff up here and send you in the wrong direction where something that I say would cause you more pain or confusion. So when I preach on this thing right here that I'm going to get into today, and it's going to be old-school. It's going to be old-school because I think this is a passage about unconditional commitment. But when I say it, I want you, three little caveats. One, I'm talking about marriage, not dating. Because somebody might hear this and be like, "Oh, so I need to go get back with Timmy again". No. No.
See, in marriage, it's till death do us part. In marriage. But in dating, you have another option, and that option is called scroll, select, delete. And so if you're not married to them yet and they're showing signs of not being the right one, because I believe over half the work is done in a marriage in the selection process, just making sure that you're both on the right page. But if Timmy has an attitude with his mom, if Timmy doesn't have a good work ethic and Timmy doesn't have a relationship with God, here's your move: Scroll, select, delete. Let's practice it together, come on, for the sake of somebody next to you who's dating a loser and they might need some encouragement just to break it off. Let's do it. Come on, scroll, select, delete. Again, scroll, select, delete. Watch this, iPhone, scroll, select, delete. To the side, watch it, scroll, select, delete. That's all you need to do.
Some of y'all need to walk out right now, put the message into practice. You're welcome. You got the word you needed today. Because after marriage you don't have that option, if the Bible is right. If culture is right, you can do whatever you want. But if we're trying to do this God's way, which I think would be a good idea, the one who created relationship.
So I'm not talking about dating here, okay? I'm talking about marriage. The second thing is, I'm not talking about your past. I'm talking about your present. And I think a good phrase for us would be: "From this day forward". There's not one of us in the room who hasn't been touched by divorce. And so when you say the word or you talk about separation, immediately certain people shut down the factory and they won't hear another word I have to say today because you think I'm here to judge you or condemn you. I need you to understand that the Lord put a word in me that I believe could save somebody that's sitting around you or maybe save you next time around from experiencing some of the pain that you experienced, and maybe instead of getting defensive and thinking that this message is about your mistakes, you could believe with me while I'm preaching for a miracle in somebody else's life so they won't have to endure the kind of pain that this kind of separation creates.
My dad was divorced twice before he married my mom. I wouldn't even be here if he hadn't gone through those marriages and ended up with my mom. So I believe God works in all things. I wouldn't even be here. I don't know how God takes mistakes and turns them into miracles, but He does. So we want to focus on present, not past. And then I'll just say this: We want to remember that we're not encouraging people to stay in situations that are abusive. Okay? Don't call on Jesus if he's hitting you. Call on the police officer nearest you and let's get you protected. That said, I think there are four things (we'll do them as quickly as we can) that happen that cause passion to go out.
How does this happen: Two become one, one become two? How does something that promises to bring so much intimacy end in isolation? How does something that promises to bring so much pleasure end up producing so much pain? A few observations from the passage. One, celebration becomes frustration. Celebration becomes frustration. When you start in a relationship with a person, especially a romantic relationship, you celebrate everything about them. And you celebrate everything about them that's different than you, and it's attractive. That's where the saying came from, "opposites attract".
How many know that in marriage sometimes the same opposites that attract, then the opposites start to attack? Amen, amen. Because what you celebrated in one stage ends up being the very thing that frustrates you in the lifelong stage. "Oh, he's just so funny. I just like him because he's funny. He's just like hilarious. He's always funny". Three years in: "Why can't you ever be serious about anything"? Celebration, frustration. The whole wedding ceremony is a celebration. You force your friends to buy all the same-colored clothes and come support you and stand around you. There's a big celebration, and people go along with it and they do it. They come out for you, and they do the whole thing. People get up and say nice things and all of this. Celebration.
I should have put a different stage in there. This isn't exactly true. It goes not just celebration to frustration. It goes celebration, then for a little while it's toleration. But if you tolerate what God has called you to celebrate, it will eventually frustrate the relationship. Celebration becomes frustration. Here's where it's going to get a little tense in the room. Passion dies out when "we" becomes "me". Hello. Hello. The two become one. If you're married, you are not a "me" anymore. And if you're not ready to not be a "me" anymore, "I just feel like I lost myself". Yeah, I hear you. You kind of did. You kind of decided to do that. The two become one.
I taught our staff, I do a summer teaching every summer for our staff. This year our theme was stretch marks. It was cool. Come on, touch somebody next to you, say, "I got stretch marks". The year before we, oh, the year before we did, I called it "The Art of Me-We", the art of me-we. I said churches get in trouble when we get flipped upside down and "we" becomes "me". Flip it upside down, the "W", we and me. Marriages get in trouble when "we" becomes "me". And we live in the most self-centered... I don't think it was always this self-centered as it is right now. I don't.
I'm a young man, but just like from what I could remember of my grandparents' relationship and different people that I've seen who are from a different generation, they understood something about when you get married, you don't get to use first-person singular anymore about your life decisions. You can scratch it out of your vocabulary book. You can flip all the Ms upside now because you're a "we" now. And in fact, that's what Paul is pointing to in the passage. He says if you have children, it even becomes more of this, like that is the ultimate decision. And if you're not ready to go from "me" to "we" in every decision, not just, "Well, I want to get married, but I still, you know, I got my own life, too". No, you don't. And if that's what you want, you don't need a marriage. You need to just keep going to Starbucks and hold hands and have good friends, but you don't need to get married.
I'll bring you a New Testament example. I know you're craving an example of this. How about those men who had a friend who was paralyzed and they wanted to get him to Jesus? And they wanted to get him to Jesus because they thought maybe Jesus could make him walk, but when they got to the place, they carry his mat, who knows how far they had to walk, who knows how strenuous the journey. Some of us wouldn't even pick up a friend to church in a minivan. And these men carry their friend on a mat. And then when they get there, they find out that the overflow is already full. And so you can watch the archive online. Jesus is healing people in the house, but you can watch it online, you can download the podcast.
They said, "Okay, cool. Yeah, we ain't doing that, because we got a friend who we cared enough to carry this far, and so we're not going to stop at the first closed door". Who do you care enough to carry sometimes? Do you care enough about the person that you said "I do" to, to carry them sometimes? Because sometimes they won't have their own ability to walk. Sometimes life is going to hit them so hard. Their past is going to catch up. Do you care enough to carry? They not only carried him to the door, but when they were sent away by the ushers, they went up on the roof and they started tearing the roof apart. And the deacons were throwing a fit about it, too. We did not vote on this. This was not in the budget, Jesus. But Jesus said, "Oh, I like their faith".
Now, here's the interesting thing about the passage. You can look it up in Mark chapter 2 for your personal Bible study and edification this week. In Mark chapter 2 it says, "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, 'Your sins are forgiven'". No, no, because I expected it to say, "When Jesus saw the man's faith, He said to the man, 'Your sins are forgiven'". The man might not even have his own faith, but he has some friends who said, "Until you get your own faith, you can have some of ours, and we care enough to carry you, and we won't take no for an answer".
And Paul says marriage has to be like that sometimes. Sometimes I need you to cover me. Sometimes I need you to carry me. Sometimes I need you to put up with me. Sometimes I need you to give me a little extra grace. Sometimes I need you to believe the best about me. Sometimes I need you to be patient with me. Sometimes I need you to speak something over me that I don't even believe about myself. If it's going to work, "me" has to become "we". Tell somebody next to you, "God is saving a marriage right now". Because some of y'all, y'all got tired carrying somebody. Carrying, carrying, feel like you're just carrying this thing right now. Just carrying this thing right now.
And I will say that you can't carry somebody forever, but I will say that if God had dropped you when you got hard to carry... yes, I'll say more about that. I sure will. Absolutely I will. You got it. No extra charge. Watch, watch. This is dangerous. Passion dies when debtors become collectors. Let's look at it. Debtors become collectors. One of the most bizarre parables Jesus ever told of stories He would tell that had a deeper meaning, one of the most bizarre ones to me is this one. In Matthew chapter 18, verse 21, Peter comes up to Jesus, he goes, "Lord, you've been preaching about forgiveness and grace and mercy. That's great. How many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me"?
Now, what we're about to read, I think it can come on the screen maybe. Yeah, there it is. And so he says, "How many times shall I forgive a brother or sister"? Now, what Jesus is about to do, He's about to take the limit and the lid off of the amount of grace and mercy that we would offer to another human being. Because Peter's like trying to show off. He's like, "Should I do it like up to seven times? Wouldn't that be impressive"? And Jesus is like, "Nope. I tell you not 7 times, but 77 times". A better translation is "70 times 7". And He's not saying, "On time 491, you can slit their throat". He's saying, "7 is the number of completion and perfection, so it's perfection times perfection, completion times completion".
Like, as many times as it takes. Doesn't mean you allow people to continue to abuse you. Doesn't mean you don't put distance in relationships sometimes. That's not what He's saying. He's saying in your heart you got to forgive them as many time as it takes for you to stay free. Watch this. This is where it all comes together for me. He said, "All right", and apparently Peter doesn't quite get it. Peter's like, "All right, 77, so on 78, I can choke them out". And so Jesus is like, "All right, let me give you the story. The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants".
Next verse, please. "As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10.000 bags of gold", that's a lot, "a man who owed him 10.000 bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me', he begged, 'and I will pay back everything'". This is a picture of religion, by the way, "God, I'll pay you back". The master does not accept his offer. He knows this is impossible. "Look, you ain't paying me back". But, look, he takes pity on him. Takes pity on him. And that's what God did for you in Christ.
You didn't, like, pay God back. You didn't all of a sudden stack up enough good works where God's like, "You know, that's bag number 10.000. You're clear now. You may go". This is not what happened. He took pity on him, canceled the debt, didn't give them more time, just tore the thing up altogether. He asked him for more time. He said, "No, how about we just cancel this"? And he let him go. What does he do with his newfound freedom? Well, when he went out, Jesus said, "About when he went out".
You expected him to pay it forward, right? Because once you have a payback mentality, it is very hard to break out of. And if your relationship with God you think is about payback, you're going to have a very difficult time giving grace because you don't know how to receive it. So he goes out, and he's had his debt forgiven, but he hasn't had his mindset changed yet. That's where a lot of Christians are. That's where a lot of marriages are. You've had your sins forgiven, but you're still operating by a ledger system. And so he goes out, he finds one of his fellow servants.
Let's say this represents your husband or wife. I know this is not commonly a marriage text, but I think it's an excellent one. Who owed him 100 silver coins. This dude got forgiven for 10.000 bags, and now he finds somebody who owes him chump change... everybody say "chump change". And I don't care how anybody has ever offended you in your life, it is chump change compared to how our sins offended a holy God. Chump change. And so look what he does. He grabbed him. You expect him to hug this dude. "Hey, man, I just got some good news. I want to give you some good news, too. I don't have to pay the master anymore, so you don't have to pay me. Now go and do likewise".
But he comes at the guy and he grabs him and he begins to choke him, and he said, "Pay back what you owe me". He demanded. From debtor to collector in a moment. And his fellow servant, now, we've seen this scene before, fell to his knees and begged him, "Be patient with me and I will pay it back". In other words, he just needs some of the same grace that this guy just got. But the man won't give it. And I wondered in my mind, studying this text this week, you know, I've always said that the man had a bad heart. Maybe it wasn't that his heart was bad. Just thinking. Maybe he still intended to pay the master back, so he sets out to collect because he still can't believe that his debt was canceled. Maybe he's still so stuck in this mindset, this religious mindset, that he's going after this guy and he refuses, I don't think he really got it. If he had really got it, he would have given it.
Don't you think if you really give grace you'll give grace? Once your sins are forgiven, he who forgives much loves much, don't you think? But he refused. He said, "No, man". And he had the man thrown in prison. We do this to people all the time. We imprison them, awaiting payback. Some of you have imprisoned a spouse emotionally because of something they did 36 months ago. Some of you have imprisoned a spouse emotionally because of something somebody else did to you that you're taking out on somebody who didn't even do it. But when the other servant saw, and here's the thing about payback: If you insist on living by the system of payback, you'll always be the one punished. You'll always be the one who ends up choked.
Watch. When the other servant saw what had happened, they were outraged, and they went and told their master everything that had happened. And then the master called the servant in. He said, "You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Like, you got in and you got set free by grace, but now you want to demand what the law requires of somebody else. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you"?
Now I hear it. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. How dare you choke somebody else when God had mercy on you. How dare you ask God for patience and you demand payback. How dare you bow your knee to God and then stand over your brother, your sister, your husband, your wife, choking, saying, "Pay me what you owe me".
So I don't know about you, but I want to give a lot of grace because I think I'm going to need a lot to make it to heaven and make it through this life. I can't choke you because I know that I'm the one who should have been choked. I know that usually whatever I see in you is a reflection of something that I know is in me. And so his master, in anger, handed him over to the jailers to be tortured. Doesn't say the master tortured him. He handed him over to be tortured.
See, that's what happens in a marriage when you're so quick to bring up all these offenses, and you're so quick, and you keep a five-year history of things that she said or things that he did, and you'll pull it up on command. It's amazing. You just got it on speed dial. You just, like, whoa. You're a collector. You think you're God's bounty hunter. And when you live that way, God says, "I got to hand you over". Watch this, Romans 13:8. Romans 13:8 it says, listen, "Let no debt", Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves".
See, you came into your relationship with God as a debtor. God had mercy on me, a sinner. If you're saved, if you're set free, if you're filled with God, if you have forgiveness, if you have remission of sins, if you've been cleansed, it wasn't because you paid God back. It's because you bowed down on your knees and He took pity on you and He had mercy on you. Now, don't you get up off your knees and start grabbing people by their throat. Don't you get up off your knees and start putting your hand on your hip and waiting for them at the door every time they mess up. Sometimes you better get your hand off your hip and uncross your arms and throw your arms around somebody and say, "I forgive you like He forgave me. I give grace like I was given grace".
In the Old Testament, when something unclean, Paul uses this analogy. He says the husband who doesn't believe is sanctified by the wife who does believe. It's not just about you. The wife who doesn't believe is sanctified by the husband who does believe. It doesn't mean that your relationship with God can be transferred to another person, but your relationship with God can transform another person when they see the example of the grace that you claim to have been given operating toward them. It'll change them. It'll change them. Nagging won't change them, fussing won't change them, demanding won't change them, but Christ will change them. Grace is power, grace will wash, grace will sanctify.
But in the Old Testament... I'm almost out of time. You got time? You got time? Can I tell you? In the Old Testament, when the unclean was in contact with the clean, like they had all these laws that when something unclean, ceremonially unclean, many issues could cause someone to be ceremonially unclean. When the unclean contacted the clean, in the Old Testament, the unclean defiled the clean. But one day, Jesus changed this, because one day Jesus was walking along, and a woman who had an issue of blood, which would have made her unclean, she came up on her knees behind Jesus because she knew she couldn't approach Him with equal standing. She touched the hem of His garment. The unclean touched the clean.
But, see, in the Old Testament, if the priest was clean and got touched by the unclean, the unclean would defile the clean. What makes Jesus a great high priest is that when that unclean woman touched Him who was the essence of purity and perfection, the unclean didn't defile the clean. The clean purified the unclean. Now, if Christ is in you... Sometimes you got to allow God to use you to touch somebody else with the same grace that He reached down and rescued you with. I'm a debtor. I don't know about you. I'm a debtor. I'm not a collector. I'm a debtor. I'm not a collector.
I remember that He paid a debt He didn't owe. And I owed a debt that I couldn't pay. And it's because of His blood and His righteousness that I'm counting on every day when I access the throne of grace boldly because Jesus, my high priest, wasn't afraid to touch the unclean, but He touched me and He changed me and He made me whole. And I refuse to hold your sin against you when God didn't count my sin against me. This will change some marriages if we can become debtors together. We all need the same grace. We're breathing in the same oxygen that was enabled by God's grace. We're all living on the same stuff.
Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Love will take you way further than the law ever could. And it may be the law of the land that you can just get a divorce for no reason. In fact, that's what the Pharisees approached Jesus and asked Him in Matthew 19: "Is it rightful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason"? And Jesus started talking about, "Yeah, there are exceptions. When someone's unfaithful to you, it is grounds for divorce, but you know what, it's also grounds for forgiveness".
I got to stop. I have a fourth point. It's just up to you. You might regret asking for this, but... Passion dies, one become two, and lives are torn apart because covenant becomes contract. Covenant becomes contract. Even when I say the word "covenant", I'm afraid that people today don't know what I mean, because words lose their meaning over time. Graham asked me a great question the other day. He's the six-year-old, and he asked me the best question. He said, "Daddy, other than you, who's the strongest pastor that there is"?
Great question. A-plus question. I'll tell him about this friend, this pastor that I know who I think might be on steroids. But I told Graham how he used to be on the Power team. Some of y'all don't know about the Power team, and Graham didn't either. On the Power team they were like, they do great feats of strength, like they would rip phone books in half. And I told him all about that. And you know what Graham said? He goes, "Daddy, what's a phone book"? See, I was trying to explain the Power team, and he needed me to explain the phone book.
And so we used to be able to say things, "marriage is a covenant", and people would have understood that a covenant is not a contract. Because a contract is based on mutual distrust. I will if you will. I don't know you. I don't know how you're going to do me. I don't know where this is going, so let's build in all kinds of exceptions and clauses. Contracts are built so I can find loopholes, and so we go into marriage like it's a contract. But marriage is not a contract. It's a covenant. People used to get this because, you know, like the Biblical idea of a covenant originates in the fact that God made a covenant with us.
When they would make a covenant also in the Bible, they would do things symbolically like, we have easy covenants now, like I give you a ring, you give me a ring. I can take it off easy enough, sell it at the pawn shop. But when they would make a covenant in the Bible, not necessarily a wedding covenant, but a covenant, they would cut, for instance, a bull in half. They'd walk between the bull seven times, representing completion, perfection. And they would say something like, "If I ever forsake this covenant, may what happen to this bull happen to me". They took it seriously. It was a covenant.
We don't know covenant anymore. What's a phone book? What's a covenant? We stand before you today, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge this holy covenant. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What's a covenant? In fact, I cannot make this up. When I was typing my notes, I put this point on my notes, "contract becomes covenant". When I put "covenant" in my word processing, on my document, auto-correct would not accept the word "covenant". You know what it changed it to? "Convenient". I said, "Thank you, Holy Ghost. That's what I need to tell these people when I preach from 1 Corinthians 7 this week, that sometimes keeping your covenant is not convenient". I'm going to preach till I get the back of the room involved. I'm going to preach till every campus is clapping. Because if marriages are going to make it, it's going to take a covenant, not a contract.
A contract is, "Oh, you didn't sign that. It says on page 44"... It's not a contract. It's not a contract. It's a covenant. It's like I'm serious about this. I'm going to do this. I'm not up here just saying words in front of you. I mean this stuff. I wasn't playing when I said, "I take you for better or worse". I wasn't playing when I said, "For richer or poorer". I wasn't saying when I said, "In sickness and in health". I wasn't playing. Wasn't playing. It's a covenant. It's a covenant. People don't covenant anymore. People hook up. People don't covenant anymore. People shack. People don't covenant anymore. They try it out.
But if this is going to make it, it's going to take a covenant. And sometimes that covenant will be inconvenient. I got news for you. The reason you're here today is because God made a covenant. I got more news for you. That covenant has been pretty inconvenient for God at many times. Because you hadn't always been as perfect as you are right now in this moment in church. It wasn't convenient for Jesus to come down from heaven, be born as a baby in a barn because there was no room for Him in the inn, but He had a covenant to keep. He had a covenant to keep. So He came.
It wasn't convenient for Jesus to heal the very people who would try to run Him off the edge of a cliff because He dared to call himself the son of God, but He had a covenant to keep. It wasn't convenient for Him to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane until His drops of sweat became like drops of blood, but He had a covenant to keep, so He prayed for you and He prayed for me. It wasn't convenient when everybody slept on Him, but He went to the cross because He had a covenant to keep. It wasn't convenient when they pulled the beard from His face, but He stood trial because He had a covenant to keep.
It wasn't convenient when they mocked Him and spit on the face of the radiance of God's glory, but He had a covenant to keep. It wasn't convenient when they drove the nails through His hands and through His feet, but He had a covenant to keep. It wasn't convenient when He shed His blood to forgive you of your sin, but you're here today because you have a covenant-keeping, a covenant-keeping, promise-keeping, oath-making God. Covenant, covenant. God said, "I swear to myself I'll be with you to the end of the age". That's a covenant. That's a covenant. Stand up, everybody. I got one more thing to share with you. Covenant. Covenant.
December of 2012, the worst Christmas of my family's life because my dad was dying of ALS-Lou Gehrig's disease. There's a lot more awareness of what this disease is after the Ice Bucket Challenge. But we saw it firsthand because we watched my dad die from this disease. In December 2012, my father had made the decision, made several decisions that separated him from our family. I had moved. He and my mom here, when his symptoms first started getting so bad that he lost his functionality, he asked me to move he and my mom here so I could play a part in caring for them. We did that. It did not work out. My mom and dad had a very complicated and strained relationship.
They were good parents to me. I think they did the best they could. But I think she approached him a little bit too much like a renovation project. And she didn't know he had some stuff under the tile. He had a very rough, rough upbringing, and that's difficult. That's very, very difficult, and sometimes it just doesn't work out. But, you know, I can remember, this is kind of crazy. I remember when I was like 10 or 11. One time my mom and dad sat me down, and my brother, and they said, "We got bad news for you guys". And I remember my mom was crying. She said, "We've been married for however many years, and your dad and I have done the best we can, but now we're going", and I knew where she was going, "We're going to split up".
And I remember as a 10 or 11-year-old, I said, "No, you're not". I've been doing this a long time. Long before I got a microphone I've been telling people what to do. "No, you're not". Maybe God brought me here today to say to somebody who's about to give up on a relationship that God started in your life: No, you're not. And I'm not claiming the credit for their marriage or anything like that, but I would say they toughed it out. I wouldn't say they had the most enjoyable marriage. But there were moments, you know, like every marriage. It was very difficult.
Anyway, in December 2012, my father, who had threatened my mother, I think it was a combination of the pain and the medication he was taking that caused him to lose his mind. He just was not himself. But he had threatened my mom to the point where I had to go in and confront him, and the two had to be separated, but instead of staying in Charlotte like we asked him to, he went off. I was paying financially for him to be in an assisted living facility about three or four hours away from our family, which was sad to me because my dad was not old enough to be in that facility.
And I walked in one time and he was calling bingo to like 85-year-olds, and my dad was 60. And I would just feel so bad, but I couldn't, you know, sometimes you just can't. Sometimes you just can't. It came to a point over time, I won't tell you all the details. Some are too personal, and you got football games to watch and stuff, but it came to a point where there was enough reconciliation and my dad's health deteriorated where he was no longer a physical threat.
And my mom wrote me a letter and I asked her could I share a few sentences of it with you so that what the devil meant for evil, God could use it for good. And I asked that you would listen to the words she wrote me in December 2012, just six months before my dad would die. She didn't know it would be six months, but here's what she wrote to me. And I'll skip the introduction, but she said, "After actually spending three nights at the assisted living facility", because she had gone there with him to be with him and to see where the relationship could or could not go. She said:
I realized that in spite of everything that has happened, I need to take care of your dad as long as I am able, whether it is one month, one year, or more. I was able to see that everyone at the home has dementia. Knowing what I know about what lies ahead for him, how can I leave him there with no one to talk to in what brief time he may have the ability to speak? He's alone after 7:00 p.m. with no one but himself. The fact that he brought it on himself doesn't change the fact that he's facing a terrifying death process. And unless God decides differently, I believe it's as big of a sin on my part for me to leave him there as it was for him to speak the evil words he spoke to the people trying to help him the most. In saying that, I don't in any fashion or way minimalize the pain he caused and inflicted on many people, especially you. I hate it and I always will. I've asked myself over and over what papa would do.
She's speaking now about her father who cared for his wife through 14 years of Alzheimer's, because the decisions you make about covenant today will affect a future generation.
I've asked myself over and over what papa would do. He would certainly agree that your dad's behavior was repulsive, but seeing him like he is now, I believe he would take him in and care for him as long as he could physically do so. I don't know what it is like to lose use of my legs, my arms, my hands and know that even worse is yet to come. I know what it is like to lose a dad, good dad or bad dad. It's a gut-wrenching loss. I don't know what it's like to lose a husband. Surely it is gut-wrenching also. I know what it is like to be cruel and I know what it is like to be kind. I know that I have a vow to keep. I know that I have a vow to keep, the in-sickness vow. And I need to let him come home and care for him as best I can. I believe that love does bear all things. I'm not physically fearful of your dad any longer, so I think God is telling me to let him out of solitary confinement as he sits on death row. It will be harder than hard, but to receive mercy, I have to be merciful in this season of my life. And when the end comes for your dad and when it comes for me, I want to know that I was the wife God called me to be while on this earth. I want to finish strong. All my heart, mom.
Six months later, as my dad breathed his last breath, we were all there because a woman kept her covenant. We were there because a woman kept her covenant. I have a vow to keep. You're here today because God kept His covenant. Bow your head, close your eyes all over the room. The spirit of the Lord is in this place. Nobody moving. The spirit of the Lord is in this place. The glory of the Lord is in this place. The presence of the Lord is in this place. Restoration is in this place. Miracles, miracles. Thank you, Jesus.
Heads bowed, eyes closed. There are many here today who need to begin a relationship with God. I've preached about marriage, but maybe the point that God brought you here for today is to bring you back into relationship with himself. If that's you, I want you to know He's never stopped loving you. He's never stopped caring for you and He never will. All He wants from you is simple faith and trust to call on His name and to surrender the life that He gave you back to Him. He will keep His covenant. If that's you today and you want to call on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and begin a relationship with the God who keeps all of His promises, who is faithful when you are faithless, I want you to pray this prayer. We're going to pray it all out loud at all of our locations together now. Repeat after me.
Heavenly Father, I'm a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Savior of the world. I believe He died on a cross to forgive my sin and rose from the dead to give me life. I ask you now to make me new. I repent of my sin. I call on you, Jesus. You are my Lord and Savior. I'll follow you all the days of my life.