Lessons (re)Learned

Last week my wife and I said, “See you later” to one of our favorite couples.  They boarded a flight Thursday morning that ended up taking them and their two-year-old son to Chang Mai, Thailand.  They will be living and working there as missionaries for at least the next three years.  It has been an honor and a blessing to help mentor and pray for them as they have prepared for this new season.  Over the weekend I took some time to reflect on their journey and decided to share two lessons I was reminded of along the way.

1.  Complete the last thing you know God asked you to do.

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deuteronomy 5:32

Three years ago Nate and I were sitting at a local coffee shop and he was visibly frustrated.  His tension seemed to pour out of him like thick espresso.  He knew clearly that God had called he and his family to live and work oversees; yet here he was “stuck in Denver”.  Not moving forward with this dream was eating him up inside.  We would talk often throughout the week about how difficult it was living day in and day out feeling like he was wasting his time.  Yet as we dug deeper I came to understand that God had asked Nate to complete his degree before moving forward.  It became more and more clear to both of us that God had a specific order to His plan to send Nate and his family oversees.  First things first.  Nate needed to finish his schooling before God would open the doors to the next season of ministry.  Once Nate came to terms with this he was able to push himself forward, finish his degree and complete the last thing he knew God had asked him to do.  Amazingly, within weeks of graduating, God opened doors for Nate and his family to come on board with IMB (International Mission Board).  Nate’s years completing his studies was not wasted time.  It was an intentional part of God’s preparation for the next step in his journey of faith.

Too often I have tried to force God’s timing rather than focusing on the last thing I knew he asked me to do.  Greatness in the Kingdom depends on our willingness to maintain a disciplined focus on the specific tasks God has placed before us.  Sometimes, the most proactive response is to put our head down and complete the current task in front of us.

QUESTION: What is the last thing you knew God asked you to do?

2.  Pursue unity in your marriage when making decisions.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.             Genesis 2:24

Once Nate’s degree was completed, God began opening very specific doors for He and his family to come on staff with IMB.  As they progressed through the process they were presented with several places they could serve internationally.  With options though, came disagreements.  Nothing major, but significant enough to create some tension in the marriage.  There were times when Nate was tempted to push through his idea, his vision and his timing.  To his credit, he chose the wiser path.  Any time there was disagreement or discord, he chose to wait and pray it through.  The level of decisions they were facing was of such a scope they needed to be made in unity and harmony.  He may have been able to push his will through, but instead he chose to wait and engage his wife fully in each decision.  His approach proved to be a good one.  Choosing patience and prayer allowed him to honor his wife and leave room for the Holy Spirit to bring greater unity in their marriage.

This is such a great lesson for husbands to learn.  Many times in my marriage I have pressed ahead without the full “buy in” of my wife.  Never has this strategy proved beneficial.  Biblically and spiritually speaking, once you are married God sees you as one.  His desire is that you act as one.  Therefore when you reach an intersection with your spouse—and there is no agreement—the first response should be to pray and wait.  If your wife is seeking God’s will as you are, then trust Him to speak to her as He has to you.  Avoid playing the part of the Holy Spirit.  Just as it would be destructive for your arm to move in one direction and your leg to move in another, it is also destructive to move in opposition to the oneness you share with your wife.

QUESTION: How can you better seek unity when wrestling through decisions with your wife?

Joel Thomas

One comment

  1. Thank you Joel. It is a blessing to see Gods faithfullness as I sit here in Thailand reading about the years leading up to our departure. You had me read a book a couple of years by Andy Stanley that had me describe my dream job. As i wrote that, i did not believe that it was even a possibility. I am blown away that God cared enough about me and my family to make that dream a reality. He is always faithful.

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