Monday, February 22, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 8: Pursue

If you are visiting my blog today as a result of linking over from my devotion on Proverbs 31 and Crosswalk, then welcome!

Today we are right in the middle of a fourteen day Marriage Challenge on my blog, which hundreds of women from across the country have been participating in to strengthen and enhance their marriages over the past seven days.

If you have not been participating, it is not too late to join in! I would love to have you hop on board with this challenge - just review the posts from last week, and then come back tomorrow!

Today’s Proverbs 31 devotion tells about a unique situation where Jesus made His presence physically known to me on a day when I was extremely about my dads health situation.

In the devotion, I explain how Jesus “appeared” as a man in the fog, and you can read the full story here if you have not read it.

On that particular foggy morning, when I felt as if I had looked into the eyes of my King, I remember feeling nearly overwhelmed at the thought of actually being in the Lords presence. I also remember the feeling of peace that came over me of which I could hardly comprehend in the face of fear of the unknown.

As my dad was wheeled out of the room for surgery later that morning, tears filled my eyes and I felt that lump of fear creeping into my throat, but then I felt God speak to my spirit, and say "it will be okay, trust Me".

The surgery went well, and the biopsy showed that all the cancerous cells were contained in the tumor, thus negating the need for any further treatments. I believe, that God healed Him.

Before that morning when Jesus reassured me He was with me, I had been so burdened with worry. You see, I was not only worried about my dads health condition, but also fretting over the fact that he is the primary caregiver for my step-mom (his wife of 16 years), who has been fighting terminal lung cancer for the past two years.

I simply could not fathom that God would allow my dad to get cancer, when he had devoted every ounce of his energies for countless months to caring for his wife and her cancer. As a result, I had thrown myself into a tizzy worrying about the logistics of how we could possibly help care for two people who had cancer, especially since they live three hours away.

But during the weeks prior to my dads surgery, I had been actively pursuing God. I had been pursuing His presence, and His guidance. I had been pursuing a stronger relationship, a stronger prayer life, and a stronger awareness that He was with me, even when I could not see Him or feel Him. I had already felt God moving in my heart, and this situation just affirmed that God had drawn closer to me, because I had drawn closer to Him.

All of those worries about my dad had not prompted my God pursuit, but simply increased it, as I was forced to spend more time on my knees interceding for my daddy. I pursued, God heard, and God answered.

So, this is a great example of how God is still at work and how he hears our prayers, but how does it relate to todays marriage challenge?

The answer lies in the word "pursue", because if we pursue God, we find Him - in everything.

I believe that our willingness to desperately pursue God and His intervention in our problems, whether it be a marriage problem or the health of a loved one, prepares our hearts to depend on God, trust Him, and give Him the credit for anything that happens.

The pursuit of Christ is what gives us the strength to keep striving for something that seems impossible to reach from a human mind perspective.

The pursuit of Christ is what gives us peace in our hearts, when there seems to be no peace in our home.

The pursuit of Christ is what helps us to keep believing that God can work miracles in us, our husbands, and our marriages even when it seems like the problems are too big, the hurts are too deep, and the challenges are too great.

1 Peter 3:11 says “He (she) must turn from evil and do good; he (she) must seek peace and pursue it.”

As I was searching Gods Word about this topic of pursuit, I landed on the verse above. I found it especially applicable for todays topic of pursuit, because it comes on the skirt tails of the passages about how wives and husbands are supposed to treat each other (1 Peter 3:1-7).

In 1 Peter 3:8-10, Peter tells us live in harmony, by sympathetic, love, hold our tongues, and be compassionate and humble - all of the things that we have been talking about over the past week that are important in our marriages.

Peter expresses the absolute necessity for us to practice those Godly traits in our marriages, but then he points out that the only way to achieve those things, is through the pursuit of righteousness.

We could wake up every single morning and commit to having a better attitude towards our husbands, treating them differently, and working towards improving our relationships - but if we are not pursuing a strong and grounded relationship with Christ, and building the presence of faith and unshakable joy in our hearts, then all of our efforts will be in vain.

It is Gods strength within us that allows us to pursue a better marriage, not our own willpower or motivation.

For the past week, we have focused on many things we could do to soften our husbands hearts and improve our relationship with them, and these things are crucial.

So today, lets shift our focus to our relationship with Christ, and how through Him, we can have the power within us to do all those things.

As we pursue Christ, He will make His presence known in our lives. We will feel Him dwelling within us. We will see Him doing miracles, and although it may not be through a cloud of god, we will begin to understand that He truly is walking among us.

Your challenge for today, is simply to ask God to give you an unquenchable thirst for a relationship with Him. Ask Him to give you a hunger for His Word. And spend some time in your knees with Him, pursuing Him, and seeking guidance and blessing on your marriage.

1 Peter 3:12a “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers...”

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Anonymous said...

Morning Tracie & Everyone,

Tracie great to hear the good news about your Dad...Loved the encounter you had with Jesus. The peace one feels.

A true relationship with Him...
This took many hardships for me...
I'm with you Tracie...Through reading his word he has pointed this out to me so much.
...He said in reply, "It is written: 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouh of God. Matthew 4:4

...Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, an the truth will set your free. John 8:31-32

...For the LORD'S word it true; all his words are trustworthy. The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
Psalm 33:4-5

...Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it; then you will successfully attain your goal.I Command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:8-9

...This faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

...I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
John 12:46

Ladies may you hear HIM whisper these verses into your ear today.

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. Hebrews 4:16


Anonymous said...

I just wanted you to know that I've been reading this challenge from day one and your words have made a huge impact on me. You are truly making a difference.

KELLY said...

Thank you Tracie for your wisdom and I pray that everyday I will keep pursueing Christ in my own life. My husband has been without a job since May 09 and I feel the tension rising between us about things that a year ago would not have made a difference. Thank you also for the challenges you have set before us and I pray that I will not revert back to my old self and start building a wall between my husband and I. Thank you again!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

This is really where it all starts, isn't it?

melissa said...

Hi Tracie, this is the first time that I'm reading your blog. Is it a coincidence? My mom just underwent major lung surgery two weeks ago. i totally understand all the fear you've been through. The biopsy has also shown that her cancer cells are contained but it's really all in God's hands. I'm also walking day by day, trying to focus on the reality of God and keeping faith that He continues to work in our lives. Bless you, dear sister.