Through the Looking Glass
April 3, 2019 | by: Serrene Turpin | 2 Comments
Posted in: Marriage and Relationships
the following was taken from Serrene's blog at Immovable Rock.
In the sequel to Alice in wonderland, Alice looked at a mirror and wondered what was on the other side of her reflection. Alice enters another world through that mirror, and in this world everything is in reverse. Alice noticed that there was a rule that governed this world that seemed contrary to logic, like walking away from something brings you towards it.
When Christians get baptized, we walk away from the only world we’ve ever known, and the further we walk away from that world the closer we get to God. The rules that govern God’s kingdom are contrary to what we were taught in our world. In God’s world everything seems upside down. In God’s world, He says it’s better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
I was raised in a neighborhood that took from you if you were weak. There were four quick ways to make money in my neighborhood. You either sold drugs, robbed people, gambled, or you made people pay for your protection. From a young age you learn quickly to hide your money, hide your things, and not to share with others. Sharing was a sign of weakness, and where I grew up people will take advantage of a kind heart. Jesus said in order to live for God you must die to yourself (Luke 9:23-24). I was taught, “it’s a dog eat dog world,” so live for yourself and don’t depend on other people. Jesus said the greatest love is to give one’s life for a friend (John 15:13). I was raised to think survival of the fittest. When the gun shoots went off on my block, no one was willing to take a bullet for someone else; it was every man for himself, because everyone in my neighborhood knew bullets have no names.
Why do I bring all these things up, because this was the type of baggage I almost brought into my marriage? The bible says in Philippians 2:5 let the same mind that is in Christ also be in you, but that’s not what I was bringing into my marriage. When Jesus approached me I was that male version of the woman at the well (John 4:7-19). I had to unlearn what the world taught me, and reprogram my mind to think more like Christ and less like me. When I looked through the looking glass as a Christian, Jesus’ reflection had to become more defined, and my reflection must begin to fade (John 30:30).
Some people say hindsight is 20/20, meaning if I knew earlier what I know now I’d make better decisions. When I look through the looking glass, and reflect on the me I use to be, I realize that it was good that God made me suffer pain in my heart, and didn’t just give me one of His daughters to marry (Psalm 119:71). God made me work for His daughter’s hand in marriage. When something comes too easy, you won’t appreciate it as much, because you really didn’t work hard for it. The scars left behind from a struggle will always be remembered. That’s why scripture says Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered (Hebrews 5:7-9). That’s why when Jesus presented himself to Thomas, and stood before the throne in heaven, He showed up with the scars from His crucifixion (John 20:26-27) (Luke 24:39-40) (Revelations 5:6). Jesus’ scars was His rainbow, it was His symbol of remembrance, like the rainbow God created to remind Him not to destroy the world again by flood (Genesis 9:12-16).
I think my relationship with my wife started off like any courting process. Boy likes girl. Boy chases after girl. Girl says no she doesn’t like boy, and boy plays the friend role. That would have been the end of the story if not for God. Nevertheless, boy prays to God that He changes the girl’s heart, and while God was working on the girl, he’s also working on the boy.
One of my character flaws was I lacked commitment. I grew tired of things real fast, and discarded it, and moved on to something new. God’s word is a light, and when the light is turned on inside of you it exposes the darkness (Ephesians 5:8-14). God’s word exposed my character flaw, and at the same time tested my commitment to Him. I fasted meat for 2 years just to get God’s approval to date this sister in Christ. During those two years, there was a time when God shut off all communication between me and that sister in Christ. The sister and I were not on talking terms. I was faced with a dilemma. I made a commitment to God too fast for a miracle, and now that miracle might not ever happen, and Got hates when you make a vow, and don’t keep it (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5). I was also being ridiculed by many of the leaders in my former church for being too radical. They told me to move on and named some sisters in Christ that I should be interested in. Even then I didn’t waiver in my belief that God can make it work between her and me. I had this unshakeable faith/lord help increase my faith where I fall short type of faith (Mark 9:22-24).
I wrestled with God like Jacob for a blessing (Genesis 32:22-29). I wrestled with God in prayer for 2 years for my wife. In the back of my mind as I prayed, I thought about the parable of the persistent widow who never gave up (Luke 18:1-8). During my 2 year fast, I prayed a few specific prayers every night.
Mark 9:23, nothing is impossible for him who believes.
Genesis 18:14, Is anything to difficult for God.
Proverbs 18:22, He who finds a wife finds, what is good and receives favor from the Lord.
Mark 11:24 …whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and it will be yours.
I could understand the apprehension of the sister in Christ that I was interested in. She was a college educated woman. She was beautiful and single with a lot of admirers and no kids. I, on the other hand already had two kids by two different mothers, and where I come from that was called an “already made family.”
During those 2 years that I was fasting, I tried to think spiritually about my already made family situation. I thought to myself, in order to get to the father (Me), any woman I date will have to accept the son (my kids)(John 14:6)(1 John 2:23). I come from a place of dysfunction. The culture I was raised in didn’t breed me to be a husband. I didn’t see any healthy relationships to model myself after. It’s an environment that encourages promiscuousness. It encourages violence. It encourages drug use.
The bible says a cord of three strands is not easily broken(Ecclesiastes 4:11-12). During those two years that I was fasting and praying, God was training me not to be a husband but to be a man of God. God put my aspirations of being in a relationship on hold while he built within me a foundation– pouring into me a new heart, and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). God wanted me to realize that He was going to be the centerpiece to this marriage. God wasn’t just going to give me his daughter so that I could repeat the same type of dysfunction I grew up in; I had to go through Him to get to her.
God also sent a message to me in an most unusual way, and the message said in order to stay with His daughter; I still have to go through Him (John 15:5). One day, me and a couple of the brothers from my old church went on the NYC subway trains to evangelize. I met this guy who said God speaks to him and he said he was a prophet. I was skeptical, but the man said something that caught my attention. I never shared with this guy my story, about how I was interested in this sister in Christ from my church. I don’t remember what the guy said word for word, but he said something like, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but that woman you’ve been pursuing, once you get her, don’t stop doing what you’re doing, because that’s the only way you’re going to keep her.” I bible says sometimes we entertain angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2), so I took what that man said to heart.
I’ve been the groomsmen or attended a lot of beautiful weddings, but most of the marriages have faulted and ended in divorce. I knew I couldn’t stay married on my own strength, so I asked God to fight for this marriage. If you were a fly on the wall in my house, you would hear me praying this prayer for my marriage.
“God reserve this marriage for yourself, like you reserved the 7,000 that didn’t bow down to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).”
In Deuteronomy 11:11-12, when God speaks about the land He is giving to Israel. He tells Israel that the land drinks rain from heaven, and that His eyes are always watching over the land to take care of it.
I asked God to tend to my marriage as if it was that land in Deuteronomy 11:12.
It’s ironic that Chris, the pastor of my church would ask bloggers to talk about marriage, because on 4/4/04 I got married, and this year my wife and I will be celebrating 15 years of marriage. I’ve heard people call marriage “the old ball and chain.” The apostle Paul said that he is in chains for God. So maybe my marriage is in chains for the gospel (Philippians 1:12-14). Maybe God has called my marriage to stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30). There is a war against God’s definition of marriage, and people have created laws to redefine what a marriage should look like. What if God has called my marriage to stand up and be seen and heard at such a time as this (Esther 4:14)?”
Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I, we’ve had our share of arguments. My marriage has gone through several different seasons of struggle. We’ve had our share of money woes, and “baby mama drama” that put a strain on the marriage. We’ve had our share of going to sleep angry. When you put two sinners in a room together the sinful nature will rear its ugly head. At times my wife and I are like the tower of Babel, we are speaking two different languages (Genesis 11:3-9).” In the tower of Babel God confused the people’s language, because they were trying to make a name for themselves, and cut God out the picture. Maybe God uses our disagreements to redirect our focus back on Him. It takes two to argue, and Jesus said when two or more gather in my name I shall be among them (Matthew 18:20). Maybe arguments should be seen as a Christian alarm bell, signaling that we are trying to do things on our own strength, and are not in the will of God. Maybe arguments should be seen as opportunities to worship God, just like when the disciples argued around Jesus as to who would be the greatest, Jesus stepped in and redirected their focus back on Him (Mark 9:33-35).
My marriage is not built around my wife, and it’s not built on me. My marriage is built on faith in Jesus. I don’t have faith in my wife. I don’t have faith in myself. I have faith in God and that He will bring to completion the good work He started in us (Philippians 1:6).
Remember, when Jesus introduced Himself to me, I was that male version of the woman at the well (John 4:7-19). I came from a culture of dysfunction, and all I saw was unhealthy relationships. I was a product of it, and I was a willing participant in that dysfunction. If God can work in me to remain committed to the covenant I made to Jesus first and my wife second, He can do it for anyone. I’m not here to boast about myself, my wife or my marriage because we’re not the glue holding this marriage together. I’m here to boast about Jesus. My marriage is a testament to the fact that Jesus answers prayers, and He is faithful.