Today we are so blessed to share words and thoughts from our friend, Lisa Brittain. She is sharing about exciting news for Beloved Prodigal during this summer. Lisa has written an excellent book and will be leading us in an online study over at our Facebook private community page. We hope you will join us! You can request to be invited by commenting below, or by commenting on our public Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/BelovedProdigal/
During July, we will be taking a break from our website here and will be concentrating our time to join in with the study. We have chosen to use the private Facebook community page, so that this study can be a safe place for sharing thoughts and prayers as the Lord leads each one of us. The team at Beloved Prodigal has appreciated Lisa’s heart, and feel sure that you will be blessed by this study also.”
Is _______ worth asking one more time?
This might seem an odd question. Even as you read it you might feel an odd sensation run down your spine. You might feel a bit put off or offended at the inference.
What I know is that we all read that question with a different item in the blank spot, and a different take on what that question means for our circumstances. Perhaps for some, and I hope many, the question sparks a feeling of hope and ignites an expectant perseverance.
My hope is you will stick with me, even while you continue to chew on that question, as I extend an invitation to each of you and finally endeavor to fulfill a three-pronged goal by the end of our time together today.
First, I am extending an invitation to each of you to join me for a six-week purposeful and refreshing walk through the book of Ruth. Since I believe we learn better by interacting and dialoguing with one another, I would love for you to invite a friend to join us on this journey out of a famine season and into a harvest of trusting God one more time. (I’ll include more details for the study at the end of this post)
Next, my goals for this introduction to our journey together are these:
- I want to encourage you. You are not wandering aimlessly alone in the desert of your circumstances. God will never leave you. He promises to help us and hold us by our right hand. And your sisters in the family of God are ready to walk beside you, to pray with you, and rejoice in the goodness of God’s presence with us.
- I want to embolden you. You are able to turn your eyes to Jesus. You are able to choose to trust God. You are able to take the next step because our Father has invited us to come boldly before His Throne through Jesus Christ His Son.
- I want to help you become expectant for the goodness of God. Your prayers are heard. You are loved more than you know. You are seen by a loving God. And so together we can encourage one another to take these next steps expectantly.
So, let’s begin our walk together by taking a closer look at this question because this is where I realized I had walked unknowingly into the middle of the desert. It is here that I came face to face with the truth that my family was experiencing a serious famine of relationship – first with God and then with each other.
“Lisa, is your marriage worth asking one more time?”
This is THE pivotal question, which served as my impetus for seeking a complete renovation of my heart, my marriage, and my family during the recent drought season of my life. The question was asked of me by a counselor right at nine years ago.
I was alone, again, in a counselor’s office. This latest counselor specialized in helping couples create or re-create intimacy in their marriage relationship. You might recognize the problem. I was alone.
Additionally, I was quite angry. I had been lovingly referred to this counselor by my pastor and his wife. They were hopeful. I was not. I had attended many sessions, over the twenty plus years of my marriage, with a variety of counselors and pastors in search of help, and always alone.
However, dutifully (because I am a first-born and would not want to be perceived as negligent in any way) I did as my pastor asked. I made an appointment and visited with the kindly and optimistic counselor. Dr. Doug, as we affectionately call our counselor, rightly perceived my anger and asked me to explain the reason for my negative feelings.
Feeling absolutely entitled, I boldly pointed to the rest of the empty couch and asked, “Do you see anyone else here with me?” I further expounded on the fact that I was always the one seeking help and I wasn’t going to be able to make a happy, intimate relationship all by myself.
And since he opened the door, I walked right through telling Dr. Doug without hesitation that I had tried my best and done all I could do to be a good wife and mother. And then, realizing I had finally come to the true reason for my anger, I blurted out my deepest darkest fear, “I’ve failed!”
Dr. Doug smiled at me and picked up his calendar. He was hopeful and asked if he could prophetically write my husband and me into his schedule for the following Saturday at 10 AM. I laughed and said, “Knock yourself out, but he won’t come.” Tenderly, Dr. Doug wanted to know why my husband wouldn’t come to the appointment if I extended an invitation. I responded without returning any tenderness, “Because I’ve asked and asked and he has always told me no!”
With great compassion, Dr. Doug leaned forward and asked the question:
“Lisa, is your marriage worth asking one more time?”
Well, that question took the wind right out of my storm-taut sail. What could I say? I knew the “right” answer was yes. How could I say my marriage was not worth asking a question one more time? But it was more than just asking a question, and Dr. Doug read my hesitation.
He asked if I would like to roleplay offering the invitation to my husband. He offered to be me and I could play the part of my husband. Dr. Doug politely offered the invitation to meet with the counselor the following Saturday at 10 AM. I gruffly folded my arms over my chest and scowled at dear Dr. Doug.
Persistent, Dr. Doug pressed just a bit, “Let’s pretend he says yes. Then what?” I hung my head and whispered, “Silence. There will be silence until we get here on Saturday.” I didn’t say it, but I feared there might be silence for the rest of my marriage. Dr. Doug sat back and with great compassion oozing from his countenance he said, “So, he uses the silent treatment to get his way, but to you, it feels like rejection?”
That was it! Not only did I see myself as a failure, I also saw myself rejected, unwanted and unloved. All of these feelings were at the root of my anger and hopelessness. Dr. Doug spoke up, and again with a cheerful tone he announced, “Great, I have prophetically written your names into my calendar for next Saturday at 10 AM. In the meantime, I will be asking God to make a way where there seems to be no way at all.”
Driving home I did not feel hopeful in the least. In fact, I wondered why I had paid good money to hear, once again, that the really hard action steps were going to be my responsibility. I muttered a feeble prayer for the courage to ask my husband to come with me to get help – one more time. And then I spent a couple of days rehearsing the question in my head and asking Holy Spirit to create an opportunity.
During that week, “the question” continually played through my mind, “Lisa, is your marriage worth asking one more time?” As I lived in the middle of that very hard place, teetering on the edge of failure and rejection, I realized the question wasn’t really about asking it was about believing God one more time. I chose purposefully to keep my end of the deal with Dr. Doug, but more importantly, I chose to say “Yes!” to believing and trusting God one more time.
And that believing and trusting in the hardest place, choosing to take one more step in perseverance, has made all the difference in who I am today as a daughter of God, a wife, and a mother. My life isn’t perfect, and we haven’t completely escaped the famine. My husband and I have many prayers still unanswered for our family, and yet, we’ve found God to be faithful thus far. We’re trusting our Father with experiential faith that He will restore our family completely. His will and His way.
Often, over the past nine years, I have heard this all too familiar question in various situations, and still to this day I take it to heart. I hope I am willing, for the rest of my life, to ask, believe and trust God one more time!
A side note: My husband tells this story far more often than I and he has referred more couples to Dr. Doug for counseling than I. So, yes, my husband agreed to take me up on my invitation. There was silence between us for several days. However, at the end of our first session, my husband asked Dr. Doug to schedule us for more appointments. We met with him for ten months.
Is there something you need to be willing to ask one more time?
Is there something you’re needing to trust God for one more time?
Will you let us, the Beloved Prodigal community, pray with you believing God hears and answers our prayers?
Is there a particular way in which the Lord has used my story to encourage, embolden and/or help you to feel expectant of experiencing the God’s goodness in your current circumstances?
Friends, it is an honor to have this opportunity to write to you today. The beautiful women who keep Beloved Prodigal going day to day work diligently behind the scenes to create the weekly posts, which are the fruit by which many of us are strengthened to persevere. They spend hours listening to the Lord, reading His Word and seeking His heart of love before writing the encouragement our Father gives them to share. These are women who pray continually for prodigals and the loved ones who longingly wait in hope.
Thank you, Beloved Prodigal friends, for persevering through your own trials. I bless you in your respite to be nourished and strengthened to return to your work here in God’s good timing. In the meantime, I look forward to studying God’s Word with you in the book of Ruth.
And now, I would like to ask you, the readers, one more time. Would you join me and the Beloved Prodigal community for a six-week study through the book of Ruth using my book 31 Days of Gleaning with Ruth: questioning my way through a famine season? My book is available on Amazon in both e-book and paperback forms. Simply click on the title above to find the link to the book.
The study through the book of Ruth will take place online at the Beloved Prodigal Community Facebook page through a private group. The study group will provide a closed community for privacy as we share our prayer requests and real-life stories – the joys and the hurts. And finally, the study will begin on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at 2 PM EST. Please respond to the post here or at the Beloved Prodigal Public Facebook page with your desire to join the secure Facebook study group.
Watch for more information. Feel free to ask questions. And invite a friend or two to join us on this journey out of a famine season and into a harvest of trusting God for His goodness and faithfulness.
Scripture references: Isaiah 41:13, Romans 12:15, Psalm 34:4-6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Hebrews 10:19-22, Jeremiah 33:2-4, Psalm 103:17, Psalm 139:1-18, and Hebrews 10:23-25
All NIV translation.