by Vicky Lutz, Belleville, Michigan

My husband and I have been married for 36 yearsWe have seen our share of ups and downs, as does every surviving marriageLife happens to us allI have often wondered why some marriages survive difficult times and others don’tRecently, I was asked what kept my marriage strong during one particularly difficult situation that occurred during our twenty-fifth year as husband and wife.

At that time, we had three young adult daughters named Amy, Becky, and ChristyWe also had a son in high school named David, who was a definite challengeHe chose a different path and was literally breaking our heartsThe conflicts he created were many and caused great stress in our home and marriage. My husband and I were in frequent disagreement on how to handle the situations that aroseWe were charting new territory, having never before been faced with whether or not to believe our son to be truthful about his activities and friendsDesperate parents do desperate things. I was handling things through the eyes of emotion and Jim through his male logicDistress permeated our home.

The natural inclination is to panic and try to seize control of the wayward childIt is very difficult to wait on God to work and to pray it through, while doing everything you know to doMy body went into a natural fast as my stomach often refused food in my griefI lost weightMy source of strength and calm, my nourishment and faith, came from my Bible once againAs I searched the Scriptures for promises to claim, God encouraged me and deepened my faithMy husband did the sameI cannot imagine going through such a trial without the support and comfort, the enlightenment and wisdom, of the Word of God! It is such a treasure!

As our son was breaking our hearts, how could we know that someday he would become the singles pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, a faculty member at Hyles-Anderson College, a singer in the First Baptist music program, and more? I mention this because the decisions we make determine our destinies and affect those of our children to the fourth generation: “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” (Numbers 14:18) What Jim and I did to keep our marriage strong is also what kept the door open for David to return to the Saviour and to reach his destiny of service.

What was this great thing that we did? It is nothing spectacular and can be summed up in one word: commitment. Jim and I had made a commitment to each other and to our Lord before we married, that we would never consider divorce as an option. We were in this “for better or for worse.” At the marriage altar, we made a vow before God and others “till death do us part.” We both meant it and have kept our vows, even through many difficult times, in reverential awe of the Lord and unwilling to experience His displeasure as described in Ecclesiastes 5:4 and 5 for breaking them: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”

Marriage brings out the best and the worst in us. It unveils our true character. It is also a wonderful tool God uses to help us to grow to the level of learning to “die to self.” Our son’s waywardness brought our marriage to a crossroad—pull together or pull apart. Commitment carried us through.

With this mindset, we made several practical decisions as a couple:

• We committed to pray, plead, and beg our Lord together to spare our son and to salvage his life for the cause of Christ. Many others supported us and David in faithful prayer. James 5:16 is true! “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

• We claimed several Bible verses together for our son’s return to Christ. We became a team united and on the same page.

• We agreed to have David answer directly to his dad for every action, every request, and every form of discipline that required parental input. Jim agreed to be “on call” 24/7. What a relief to my tattered emotions to have Jim handle David’s yeses and nos!

• In our team effort, Jim and I gave up the “blame” game. We both accepted responsibility for the many mistakes we’d made along the way.

• We allowed each other “space” to suffer, grieve, and recoup in our own individual ways.

• We rekindled a somewhat neglected love flame.

Through it all, our marriage became stronger, deeply rooted in the tender love of a merciful and marvelous Lord. Our foundation is sure because it was built on the priceless and precious principles of the powerful Words of God! Through His written Word, the Lord has redeemed my soul, spared my marriage, secured my daughters, and salvaged my son! How I thank and praise Him!