Once I was approached by a young couple who wanted to get married. They were very much in love. She had been raised in a Christian home, had trusted Christ at five or six years of age, had gone to Christian school and Bible college, and had never lived in the world.
But he had known nothing but a harsh and worldly life up until about a year before they met. He never knew his father, and his mother was an out-of-control, homeless drug addict. He himself had been an addict from a young age. He had been on his own and out of school since his mid-teens, and had the scars to prove it. But he had found the Lord, trusted Him, and surrendered to Him completely. Including the surrender of his addictions. And now this.
And so, the question. What about us? Could God be in this match? Will God bless this marriage? Hard questions.
My concern, of course, was him, not her. Forgiveness from God? Absolutely. Sin cast as far as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12. God LOVES to use the vilest of sinners. Look at Paul. A mean and hateful murderer of Christians! A changed life is a testimony that the lost cannot deny. A miracle not of man's doing. Sometimes I get a little jealous of such a one with an amazing testimony of what God can do with a person who had been drowning in sin. God can use you in huge and mighty ways, young man. No doubt.
But what we need to consider are the scars left behind. What do they mean and how do they influence your future? What happens if you do not stay close to the Lord? What will become of your wife and children if you allow yourself to get even a tiny bit backslidden? Because just a step or two backward for you and you will have a disaster. And you will take your young wife and family with you. Straight into unspeakable heartache and ruin.
Scars. I'll write about the barn door one day. If that young man gets even three steps away from the Lord, he is back to his drugs and a boatload of other horrible sins that we discussed that had been a part of his past. They are just all sitting there, waiting for him. And satan sits upon them, laughing, knowing just what to do. 1 Peter 5:8. He will pounce on you like a roaring lion, thrilled at his chance to destroy. To destroy God's work. To destroy your testimony. To destroy your family.
If that young girl gets a bit away from the Lord, where does that put her? Not reading her Bible like she should? Not praying faithfully? Missing a few church services? Not witnessing to the lost when God gives her opportunity? Not good, but certainly not the disaster that he would face. Right?
We discussed it for a long time. The young man saw his need to grow and stay as close to the Lord as possible. The young woman saw the danger and promised to be very mindful of his needs, and to encourage him in the Lord when he became discouraged. Even if she wanted to join him and wallow in the mud, too. She could not. She would try to always point him toward the Lord if he needed a nudge. And to pray with and for him every day.
They married. It was a joyous day!
They were in church every time the doors were open. He grew. They served the Lord and prospered. Sometimes he struggled. A few times big time. Their pastor knew and helped. Sometimes she struggled. His zeal for the Lord was sometimes annoying. Sometimes he would be out visiting with the pastor when she wanted him home. Keep your mouth shut, little girl! Sometimes he would put most of his paycheck into the offering plate. She wanted pizza. No pizza for you today, baby. Swallow your complaints and trust the Lord. Grilled cheese ain't so bad. Look at the big picture and greet him with a smile. Show him how much you love the fact that he loves the Lord so much. Show him how much you love him!
They survived. He is now a staff preacher. Full time. It took a lot of faith to quit his good paying job. He took a big pay cut for the Lord. Many people have been saved as a result of his testimony. Many lives changed.
I'm not so worried about him anymore. He's developed some good past to go back to if he missteps just a bit. And they have been married for more that a decade. But the devil still sits on his boatload of sin. His scars. Just because the Lord, through the Blood of Christ, chooses not to see them doesn't mean that satan doesn't remember. And he still hopes to use them against him someday. The day that he turns his back on the Lord. The day that I still pray will never happen.
I tell this story to tell you that I made a grave error in the counsel that I gave. Thankfully, it didn't affect them at all. But it's had a great effect on me. A huge lesson learned. The lesson of the tiger.
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