My husband and I used to work with the youth in our church, and I remember us telling them not to wait until they were in the backseat of a car to decide whether or not they would stay pure until marriage. Emotions (and hormones) run high when in the backseat and that is not the time to be making life changing decisions. Hopefully, if they made the decision for purity beforehand they would not even place themselves in that position, thus avoiding the temptation altogether.
Our advice to the youth were words from personal experience. I met my husband when I was 14 years old and he was 15. We ended up getting married when I was 16 and he was 17 and we were expecting our first daughter. We've not for one moment regretted the birth of all three of our beautiful daughters. We do, however regret the way in which we brought about our first pregnancy. We know firsthand what “backseat” decisions lead to.
1 Peter 5:8 says this: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." It goes on to say in verse 9: "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
Problem is, in reality we all find ourselves in the “backseat” at times. How does that happen? Remember our “Peter” moments? When we take our focus off of Christ and onto our circumstances, we end up in the “backseat”. When that happens, it's not too late. We still have a choice we can make. The decisions are much harder to make from the “backseat” but it is possible nonetheless. Backseat decisions are not won and lost by emotions or circumstances. They are won or lost based on what we believe and more importantly on Whom we believe. Therein lies the difficulty, if we have been in the “backseat” chances are we have not focused on God and His Word.
A phrase in the lyrics in the song “Shadowfeet” by Brooke Fraser, it says “when the world is falling out from under me, I'll be found in You, still standing.” I've got a feeling that girl knows what it's like to have her 'world fall out from under her.' Yet, she has made the decision to resist the temptation to give up until she discovers HIS way out and stand firm in the faith despite her circumstances.
How do we accomplish this? Ideally, it starts with a decision before you even face a trial. An example in my own life was when my marriage was in jeopardy in 1992. In January of that year I had attended a Kay Arthur bible study on Covenant, quite frankly I wasn't sure how all that Old Testament “stuff” was going to relate to my life in present day, but I attended nonetheless.
Immediately following that study, I went through the study “Marriage Without Regrets” again, by Kay Arthur. Of course, my thinking at the time was that my marriage was fine. That study ended in May of 1992. My husband approached me on the first weekend of September (Labor Day Weekend) that he wanted out of our marriage...as I type this article, I realize that was 30 years ago this coming weekend. WOW. Ironic much? That's our God...amazing!
The bible studies I had just completed played a vital role in the restoration of our marriage. My husband and I both come from broken homes. His dad had been married three times and his mother twice. My mother was married three times and my father twice. We had been handed a legacy of divorce and the enemy was intent on keeping it that way. BUT GOD, had other plans.
It is my belief that starting in January of 1992 God was preparing me for the attack that would soon take place on our family. Those two studies allowed me to figure out ahead of time what I truly believed about marriage, or better stated what GOD believed about marriage, regardless of what I witnessed growing up and absent of all the emotion and chaos that would follow. His Word that was planted in my heart during those months of preparation flooded into my memory during that time, which was vital in my decision making process.
Toward the end of the song “Shadow Feet” by Brooke Fraser the lyrics say He makes all things new. I am here to testify that this is truth. In 1 Corinthians 5:11-21 God's Word speaks to the fact that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Through God reconciling himself to us, He has given ALL believers the ministry of reconciliation.
What these verses meant to me was that my past, my childhood were no excuse for behavior that did not line up with the Word of God. I learned that I have no control over the behavior of anyone else, including my husband. I did not know if my marriage would be reconciled or not, but that did not relieve me from being obedient to what I believed God's Word was telling me.
I also learned that obedience to our God has it's own reward. In the beginning of our marriage crisis, all I wanted was my marriage to be restored. In the end, all I wanted was a more intimate relationship with God. If that meant my marriage would be reconciled great, if not I was fine with that too. Wow!
Relinquishing my husband over to God was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was made harder because he had become an idol in my life. It's funny how we think we own anything, even people we love...when all along it's His to begin with. God was gracious in returning my husband to me, but only after I placed the Lord back on the throne in my life where He belonged. God is good all the time and even if we have been in the “backseat” for a time, He can make all things new and we can stand firm in Him. When time and space are through, we'll be found in you...still standing.
I'll conclude with this “song” written by Paul to the Ephesians as a prayer of gratitude for us all:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJ.
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