With the flip of a switch, I stood in the utter darkness…just as the night before; I fell to my knees pleading with the Lord. “Lord reach his heart. Lord, please! Reach his heart!” The tears streamed down my face as I felt deep within me a sense of urgency…knowing that this night was of great importance.
You see, my husband and I grew up very differently. I was raised in a Catholic home, with little to no understanding of the Bible, Christianity, or what a relationship with Jesus Christ meant. My husband, he grew up as the son of a preacher. From the very beginning he was taught about Christianity. He knew all about the Bible and what being a Christian meant. And while each of us started out on very different paths, we both ended up running with reckless abandon down the same road that led not to life, but death.
When we met, we were two very lost souls. The odds were against us from the beginning. Fortunately, God likes to write impossible stories with people’s lives. After a tumultuous first few years of marriage, the Lord captured my heart and began to turn our story around.
Not long after I was saved, I began to pray the Lord would reach my husband’s heart. It felt like we were once again on separate paths. I was just beginning to unfold all the wondrous truths of God’s Word and my heart was set on fire. My husband, he already knew these truths, but the connection from his head to his heart just wasn’t there. I remember during my first women’s retreat in Illinois, picking up a prayer card called “Lifting My Husband Through Prayer.” I stuck that card in my Bible and prayed through it so many times. The very first prayer on that card…
“Fill my husband with love for you, that he would love you ‘with all [his] heart and with all [his] soul and with all [his] mind’” Matthew 22:37-40 ESV
I prayed that prayer more times than I can count. There were times I wanted to despair. There were times I wanted to take matters in my own hands and try to change him. There were many times I would look to women whose husbands seemed to be wholeheartedly following the Lord and leading their families and I would find myself longing for what they had. Don’t get me wrong, he was and still is a very good man. In fact, he put us (his family), before everything. Until I knew the Lord, that was more than okay with me, but once I understood what a godly man can, and should be, I deeply desired my husband to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. Each time I would despair or become discouraged or covet what I didn’t have, the Lord would gently quiet my heart. He began to build in me a gentleness and patience that wasn’t there before. I began to see signs of my husband turning towards the Lord, but knowing there was still a battle being fought between his mind and his heart. And each time I began to grow anxious, wondering if he would ever fully commit his life to God, God would quiet my soul again and I would just keep praying.
So back to that night in the dark, with me on my knees crying out to God…My husband had left for a men’s retreat two nights before. The fact that he was even there was already an answer to prayer. I knew God was working. Each of those nights, as I turned out the lights, I was overwhelmed with the urge to pray for my husband’s heart. And on that last night, I have never prayed so hard or so true before, or since. My husband already had all the knowledge he needed. This was a battle for his heart…and I pleaded with the Lord to capture it. Emotionally spent, I picked myself up and headed to bed where I lay wide awake until his return. As he came in the bedroom, I immediately knew…He was a changed man.
He would later recall to me how he had left the retreat as it came to a close, not wanting to stay for the afterglow bonfire. He just wanted to get home to his family. And as he headed down the mountain, he took a wrong turn. As he began to turn around he sat there with the car in park. And that’s where it happened…Right then the Lord captured his heart and set us once again on the same path. This time the path that leads to life. My husband turned back towards the mountain; back to where all the other men still were. And that night, in front of those men and before God, he committed to putting God first in his life.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 ESV
God answered my prayer that night. But to you, the woman still waiting…the woman who looks at godly men leading their families and wondering if your husband will ever get there…to you with the husband who isn’t fully following the Lord… to you with the husband who doesn’t know the Lord…to you with the husband who wants nothing to do with the Lord…
Never stop praying. Be patient. God hears your cry.
By Marsha Russell