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It All Counts

Mar 18, 2024

This post is by Deb Alexander.

I found out my marriage was in crisis on a Friday afternoon in September. I had wondered, of course - something between us was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what that something was. Until I could. 

 I wasn’t a believer back when our marriage fell apart nearly 30 years ago. Nor was my husband. We had grown up attending church on Sunday mornings and youth groups on Sunday afternoons, but had not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. 

When I couldn’t sleep that first Friday night, I reached for my Bible. We had recently received it as a gift after we joined our new church in our new town. At first I just paged through the thin pages one by one. Then, I noticed the topical index in the back. 

I found the word “marriage” in the index, and I read through every verse listed under that heading. I learned that God designed marriage to teach people about the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. I remember not really understanding what that meant, but somehow feeling comforted by the words.

I searched the index for the word “divorce”, and quickly learned how the Lord views it: “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel” [Malachi 2:16, NLT]. I clung to this verse for the next 18 months. 

I read the verses related to “trust”, and those under the topic of “family”. I stumbled upon a psalm in which David actually questioned the Lord. I hadn’t realized we were allowed to do that. I filed that away to think about, sometime later.  

I couldn’t even consider searching for “forgiveness”. Not yet. 

That night was the first time I studied the Bible. I was alone in our room in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what a Bible commentary was, much less that official Bible study workbooks existed. I knew only that I felt drawn to open that Bible. I didn’t realize yet that the Lord was actually pursuing me. He was pursuing both of us, and he would use the crisis in our marriage to draw us to Himself.         


My husband and I hosted our small group Bible Study in our home last week. There are five couples in our small group, and it was our turn to open our home to these friends. Our evenings together always begin with coffee, food and conversation around the island in our kitchen. We ask about parents and kids, work and home. Several of us are walking through challenging seasons right now, and reminders that others know and care for our people have been a lifeline. 

Later, we move to the couches in our family room to study God’s word together. This year, we are digging deeply into Jesus’ sermon on the mount. We read scripture out loud, and share our thoughts as we wrestle through the familiar text. We learn well from each other

At the end of the evening, we pray for and with each other…for wisdom and for healing, for grace and for forgiveness. This past week, I opened my eyes just the tiniest bit as my husband was praying. I looked around the room, grateful beyond words for these friends who have become family. What a gift they are to us. I didn’t always have community like this, and my life and our marriage is richer for it. 


It all counts. 

When I roamed through Scripture in the middle of the night, knowing nothing about the Bible and only that I needed help, that counted. 

When we studied and discussed Matthew 5 as a small group last week, verse by verse, that counted. 

God desires our whole hearts, and one of the ways he draws us to Him is in the study of His word. Alone in our rooms or together in community, what matters is that we turn our hearts toward God and seek to learn more about Him.

 

Deb Alexander has been married to her college sweetheart for 33 years. They have two children, and two grandsons who have captured their hearts. Deb was born and raised in New England, and she and her family have called central Illinois home for over 25 years. She is a writer and a life-and-work coach who loves birds, books, long walks on the trail near her home, and family dinners. 

Deb would love to connect with you on Substack at deborahalexander.substack.com, where she writes words to encourage you as you navigate a hard season in your marriage with resilience and grace.

 

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