28 Feb Don’t make the biggest mistake of your life!
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 (NIV)
Well, I’ll admit it: this story isn’t what I initially set out to write.
I had planned to celebrate one of stories of how God has been working so wonderfully through our ministry – stories that totally glorify Him, and I’m quite confident God will allow me to share them with you in His perfect timing. But, as you’ll soon see, the following story couldn’t wait, and God knew that. So, I’ll move forward here in revealing this potentially tragic story, because I need for your help.
It involves a simple piece of paper.
And, we, dear friends, are that piece of paper. More on that soon….
I’d like to introduce you to an acquaintance of mine named “Tommy” (not his real name) who just weeks ago announced startling news to his longtime bride and unsuspecting children. You don’t know Tommy, but, then again, you probably do know someone like Tommy. Perhaps you’re Tommy? You see, over the past several years, I’ve met hundreds of guys like Tommy: married men with varying numbers of children. Married men who begin to buy into the lie that escaping their marriage problems through divorce is a good option.
Don’t buy into that lie!
But don’t take my word, take Jesus’s words of Matthew 5:31-32 (NIV), “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
As any pastor will relate, the issue of divorce is a thorny issue, for it touches the lives of many close family and friends. However, just because it’s a thorny issue is no reason for us to step back from it. For us married followers of Christ, Jesus’ teaching is clear: God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Specifically, here in Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus instructs that while divorce is permitted under the specific circumstance of one partner’s sexual unfaithfulness, divorce is certainly never commanded. Therefore what God joined together, one man and one woman – God’s intended plan for marriage – let no one separate (Matthew 19:6). Though it’s not always easy and every marriage is hard work, God’s Word is clear: rejoice in the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18). And always remember: Jesus loves us so much that He died to pay the price for all of our sins (Romans 5:8).
Even worldly wisdom (never necessary to confirm God’s Word) bears this out. Years ago, a dear friend of mine who’s been married several times confided to me, “After considering all my marriages and subsequent divorces, I wish I had stayed in my first marriage and worked it out with my first wife. When you divorce, you trade one set of problems for another set of problems.” A stark truth that his children would sadly agree with.
And that brings me back to the piece of paper: our life is like a piece of paper.
God imparted this piece of paper story to me several years ago, as I was counseling a married team member of mine who was heavily flirting with a co-worker. In short, he was flirting with disaster. Here’s the story, and for ease in relating it, I’ll insert Tommy’s name to demonstrate the teaching God used through it.
Our life is like a piece of paper…
“Hey, Tommy, for our weekly one-on-one meeting today, I’d like to share a story with you. Do you see this blank piece of paper I’m holding in my hands right now? This blank piece of paper is pristine with no folds, no cuts, and no blemishes. When we start out, our adult lives are kind of like this blank piece of paper, full of potential and possibilities.”
“Then we begin to make life choices, indelible choices. For example, you fall in love and get married.”
(I fold the paper in half, and I then open it up again to highlight the paper’s new crease.)
“So, now, you’re married to your bride; your paper has been permanently changed. Even if you wanted to remove this crease by reverse folding it or even ironing it on low heat, you will always see the crease.”
“Next, you and your bride decide you’d like to have child together.”
(I then make another fold in the paper so that the fold runs parallel to the first fold, and then I open the paper up again to highlight the paper’s two parallel creases.)
“See, now there are two parallel folds: one for your bride, and one for your new child. Everything is in order. Again, there’s nothing you can do to remove either fold: they’re permanent. But, let’s say you decide to have more children….”
(Again, I make several more folds in the paper, all parallel to the first fold: one for his bride and one fold for each child.)
“So, Tommy, we started with a pristine, unfolded piece of paper, and now there are five parallel folds: one for your marriage to your bride, and one for each of your four children. Again, let’s admire together the beauty and order of these folded lines, all running parallel – and there’s nothing you can do to remove them.”
“Now, Tommy, please look closely at this paper, which resembles an accordion with all its parallel folds. And I want to ask you one question: Do you know what an adulterous affair does to this clean, parallel-folded piece of paper that represents your life?”
(At this point, I pause as I hold the paper in front of Tommy’s face and then swiftly and loudly crush it into a wadded ball of paper similar to the image at the beginning of this update. Tommy’s face is equally crushed as the lesson begins to sink in.)
“Tommy, an adulterous affair will crush your life and the lives of those you love, just like this crushed piece of paper. And, even as I’m unfolding this crushed paper now, trying to straighten it out again, you can still faintly see the original five parallel lines, but now the entire paper is marred with dozens, probably hundreds of creases, wrinkles, and blemishes that will never disappear. God’s grace will help you begin to recover from this, but you – and your family – will live with your choice. In short, Tommy: Don’t make the biggest mistake of your life!”
So here’s where I need your help: Right now, would you please pray that God would protect “Tommy” and his family from this tragic decision, even as He strengthens their marriage?
A Faithful Dad’s mission is straightforward: Follow Jesus. Lead your family. Leave a legacy (1 Corinthians 11:1). God enables us to come alongside men from all walks of life, so we can leave a legacy that reflects Jesus, a lasting legacy that will make Jesus proud.
Want to join us in equipping more men to connect through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Please click HERE.
On behalf of our board and serving Jesus with you,
Travis and Suzanne Zimmerman