This is a followup email I sent after the last one about Sowing and Reaping to a good friend.
Friend, as I have listened to God speaking to my own issues today, I am encouraged to pass along some things I am reminded of that may give you help as well.
Galatians 3:6 says that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. What was it that Abraham believed? He believed that God could do what He said He could do. If necessary God could raise Isaac from the dead to make him Abraham's heir after being sacrificed at God's command. No matter how impossible circumstances appeared, God would have no problem fulfilling His promises. That is the kind of faith/belief that was honored by receiving a reputation of righteousness.
It is exactly the same with us. In fact the Bible repeatedly talks about Abraham as the father of all those who believe and are Israelites in reality. Faith at its very core is a choice to believe that God can do the impossible in our lives. And the impossible is most often the transformation of our own hearts, the way we treat others and our own characters.
So, what might prevent God from doing what He says He can do? Can't He just demand or force His way? Not at all, for that would destroy the very atmosphere of respect for our freedom so necessary for true love to flourish and true respect to create and bolster faith in Him. The only thing standing between God's will and desire to change us back into His image and the actualization of that desire is our own will. It is completely in our power whether God will accomplish all that He has planned to do within us and within our marriages or whether we will continue to live in defeat, discouragement and despair. No one else has the power to defeat the combination of God's will and our choice to believe it.
Connected to this is a need to be more aware of the factor of what we use as evidence and the processes we rely on to define what is real or true. We have all our lives depended largely on our feelings along with false interpretations of what we view as factual evidence from our past to determine what we will believe about our future. But because we have grown up in a world where we are trained to misinterpret nearly everything based on false assumptions about God, about ourselves and skewed ideas about reality, we are not used to using God's methods to define reality or our future.
While we may be totally confident that we know how someone else will react or what will happen to us based on many repeated experiences from the past, those conclusions are simply repetitions of the same mistakes we have always made in determining what is valid evidence and what that evidence implies. But not only do we very often choose the wrong facts to prove our conclusions while overlooking so many positive evidences of God's work in our lives all around us, we also put the wrong constructions on what the evidence implies about our circumstances. We must learn to discard pretty much all of our methods for arriving at conclusions and refuse to judge anyone while earnestly praying for God to open our own eyes, show us our own blind spots and learn to constantly and passionately seek heaven's viewpoint on every situation and how to view every person around us. In other words, humility.
This is where it is vitally important to fill our minds with the Word of God and learn to discern the Spirit of God instead of what is so familiar to us. God is seeking to bring all who are willing into a reality that is so different from what we have always perceived that our natural mind refuses to even believe that it exists. But when we do finally consent to lay aside our conceptions about what defines reality in favor of God's declarations of what is true or real, we will begin to perceive so much more than is even possible for the one unwilling to make that step of faith.
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
If you recall my last email, I talked about sowing and reaping what is sown. This is very important to keep in mind. If we struggle to believe that God can do what seems to us to be impossible in our lives or our wives, it is because we have not been planting enough good seeds of faith in God into our minds and hearts. Faith is something that both grows by use and multiplies by planting, both within ourselves and in those around us eventually. The words we speak, the self-talk we carry on, the nature of what we focus on all act as powerful seeds that inevitably spring up to produce more of the same.
If I want to have more faith I have to begin investing effort in immersing myself into the faith I already have by dwelling on God, talking faith in Him and rejecting the many assertions the enemy will insinuate into my mind meant to destroy faith. Abraham had to do this many times and God honored his reputation for all time by calling him the father of the faith-filled. It meant that as we study the experiences of Abraham and learn to appreciate how hard it was for him to believe the seemingly impossible that God had promised him, that we can be inspired to make similar choices in our own situations.
God is faithful and He can and will do all that He has promised in and through us if we will give Him access and reject the many objections that constantly flood our minds. This is where the seed-sowing is really going on. If you continue to repeat the negative assumptions about your wife that have permeated your thinking for so long, those comments and thought patterns become seeds to act as self-fulfilling prophecies and will spring up to produce similar results both in you and in her. Then your predictions will appear to verify that you were right all along and that the situation really is hopeless.
But in reality all you have really proved is what God's Word was telling you all along: that you will simply reap what you sow. When we sow weed seeds of bitterness or negative expectations, they materialize and seem to confirm that they were right. But the reason they materialize is not because God wills them or fate forced them on us but because we create them by our own choices to dwell on them and repeat them to ourselves and to those around us. Our words, somewhat likes God's words, have creative power to form existent situations just out of ideas.
Here is the good news though, for the same principle that pushes us deeper and deeper into the cycle of dysfunction can likewise be leveraged to extricate us from that same trap of hopelessness. When we choose to force our minds to dwell on God's goodness, God's graciousness, God's mercy, God's unconditional love for both us and our spouse, new plants begin to slowly take root and over time will transform the looks of our internal landscape. If we persist in rejecting lies of Satan that seem so true to our natural feelings and keep embracing the Word and promises of God, believing that He has the power and resources to fulfill them in our circumstances, even when we have no clue how He will do it, then like Abraham we too will be covered with the righteousness of Christ. We can be just as easily accounted righteous as Abraham was simply by choosing to believe that God can do the impossible for us and in us even if we have no idea how He will bring it about.
The best way to keep ourselves in this unusual and at first very unfamiliar way of thinking is to keep thanking God as sincerely as our heart will allow, for who He is and what He is doing within us. Never mind whether at first it feels hypocritical – thank God anyway! Thanking God is a grasping of the gifts He is offering to us and absorbing them instead of just admiring them from a distance.
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-19)
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
This is our antidote to 'scenario thinking' that can so debilitate us and keep us in unbelief and continual failure as Christians. Immersing ourselves in the Word and promises of God, learning to meditate on the truth about His character and His passionate love for us and choosing to counteract the suffocating effects of dark thinking and scenarios through praise and gratitude is the prescription that will begin to heal us and deliver us more and more from the kingdom of darkness and despair.
Then as our own hearts begin to heal and our praise to God keeps driving away the darkness of our depression and fears, Others around us will begin to feel inspired to believe as well and will be drawn toward a God they have never encountered before in religion. This is the true ministry of evangelism; this is the authentic method of bringing others to know the truth as it is in Jesus. Only by first letting the truth transform our own hearts, lightening our own darkness and taking root in our own souls can we have any credible influence to draw others to want the same transformation in their own lives.
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:17-19)