OK….so you have been burned in church, or in marriage. Who hasn't been? I mean at least in some significant way. All of us who have been in churches for decades, or married for decades….or even just for a handful of years....we all have a testimony….and I don't just mean a testimony about the good stuff, of which there is plenty….I mean the other stuff too.
Just because you may have had a bad meal last week doesn't mean you have given up on eating, right? So why give up on the needs of your soul, or your need for a soul mate?
Can we talk here? It can get downright messy in the sheep pen….and messy in marriage….but the alternative is at least as challenging and unfulfilling. Any way you slice it, your life on earth is going to have many unfulfilled desires….and so is mine. Such is life on planet earth.
Having said that, I want you know that God cares deeply about your pain….and whatever hurt you have experienced in church, or in marriage….and I am here to tell you….there are plenty of gracious groups of Christians out there in churches where you won't get burned….and there are many Spirit-filled marriages in existence where the joy and sense of completeness far exceeds the pain of conflict and any other distressing times or negative feelings.
You need a renewed vision my friend. You need to believe that God can lift you up out of your past hurts….and disappointment….and heartbreak. People mess up….in marriage, and in churches. There are churches that are legalistic….stay away from them….and there are people who are oppressive….don't date one of them, let alone marry him or her. If you find yourself in a marriage that feels oppressive, your only hope in my opinion is to get strongly connected to a Spirit-filled group of Christians in a church where the love and grace of God fills you to overflowing. How else could you hope to see God heal you, change your spouse, and empower your marriage?
You need a church where people love one another….and pray for one another....and where the Word of God is preached without compromise and also without legalism. There are lots of Christian churches where that is going on all the time. There are also churches where the atmosphere is "heavy" and the relationships are strained. But those are not the only churches out there my friend, even if that is the only experience you have had in church. Open your eyes and look at the fields....there are pockets of healing all over the place....you just need to be well-connected to one of them.
There are plenty of Christian marriages where both husband and wife are experiencing deep satisfaction with God and with one another….especially if they both are growing in their life of discipleship in a Spirit-filled church. That doesn't mean their marriage is perfect….or their church is perfect….or their peace is perfect. Remember, we are still living on this earth. This isn't heaven yet….that comes later, after we press on with Christ through the challenges of career, relationships, and daily discipleship.
You know what else is true? You will never have a God-pleasing or soul satisfying sexual relationship outside of marriage. That is one of many reasons you need marriage, unless God wants you to remain single. Likewise, you will not be refreshed and encouraged by the Holy Spirit all on your own like you would be in a congregation of believers where Jesus is blessing His bride, the church. Jesus said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20) That's one of the main places Jesus hangs out! You need to be in the middle of that if you really want God's power in your life and relationships.
For these reasons, you need marriage in God's time, unless He wants you to be single for now or forever…and you need a local fellowship of believers….unless God wants you to live as an isolated monk on a island….I don't think so.
So you have been burned? Again I say, who hasn't? I don't say that to minimize your pain. I say it to help you realize that you can let it cripple you….or you can rise above it by God's grace and get back in the game. Your life is not over. Your relationships are not over. Your spiritual journey is not over.
Don't settle for less that what God wants to do in your life. Don't allow your bad experiences to define how you perceive God's church and how you perceive marriage. The big picture of what God is doing in those realms is so much larger than your limited perspective and your personal experiences. If you allow those painful things to dominate your thinking, you will end up allowing that other person or those other people to have control over your future. The only One who deserves to be in that position is God….and He is already there….are you willing to follow Him into a joyful future?
God can shake you out of your doldrums. "Come near to God and He will come near to you." (James 4:8) Here is a very practical approach to getting beyond the hurt: Begin praying everyday for whichever person or group of people hurt you….and as you sincerely pray for their well-being, God will pour His wellspring of living water into your soul. God will work the healing, but you have a role to play in it….you have a choice to make in it….you have a path going forward that can lead you out of your dark tunnel.
Your spirit will once again be refreshed and recharged. Your life will take on new meaning, purpose, and power. And your vision will expand much greater than it has been with your old way of thinking. It's not easy….and God understands that. This is why He is so eager to help you….and He will do it as you open your life and your heart once again to Him and His plan for you.
This is where the healing begins. (Check out the song with that title by Tenth Avenue North.) If I were you, I would find the most Spirit-anointed music I could find….and start allowing God to touch your heart as you pour out your heart to Him. Contemporary Christian music on the radio….or the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir on YouTube….or whatever Christian music blesses your soul….get in that river….and allow the refreshing spring of the Holy Spirit to wash over you and through you in a new way. Why not do it today? What have you got to lose?
God will change you….and in so doing, He will change your perspective and your future. God bless you my friend as you launch out....do it as if you were just given a new life to live. Hmm. Now there's a cool thought.
God really is all about new beginnings and fresh starts. But He won't force you to let go of the past if you prefer to stay entombed in that old hot mess. Free will involves the ability to choose which direction I plan to go to the glory of God. Why not begin right now with the words, "Heal me Lord," as you begin to pour out your pain and your dreams to God.
Visit with Jesus about it. He will help you….and He will lead you in a far better way than you could ever lead yourself. There is a reason why Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd." (John 10:11) You are free to believe Him and act on His words….or to reject His leading and stay in your self-imposed tomb. I guess it's kind of a no-brainer isn't it?