Tonight, our family went to a friend’s 60th birthday bash. He and his wife were born a couple of days apart, so we all had a double celebration. It was a great event.
One of their daughters, along with a few other folks, spearheaded the event. After we arrived, I spoke with his daughter; she thanked me for helping her and her husband through some marriage issues six years ago. I remember it well.
Later in the evening, the husband approached me and expressed gratitude, though he admitted to lying and damage control during our counseling sessions. The counseling did not have the intended effect, as it was a few more years before he came to an end of himself and cleaned up his act.
He told me that after our counseling season ended he began listening to Drive-By Marriage (DBM), our 31-lesson marriage series, on his way to and from work. It was DBM that the Lord used to capture his heart. He repented and had been walking out repentance for the past three years.
While I was so encouraged by his gratitude, I was struck (again) by the reality that the counseling season is so often not the season when change happens. Most counseling times are periods of watering and planting, not change (1 Corinthians 3:6). Too often, counselors and counselees are put “in a spot” by elevating their season together as a time for a change to happen when change rarely happens during that short period.
God grants repentance, not disciplers (2 Timothy 2:24-25), and it’s unusual for folks to change after two, four, or six counseling sessions. My friend is an example of this truth. He transformed several years after we met. It was only after he came to “an end of himself” did transformation come his way (Luke 15:17). And that “end” did not happen during counseling.
A Spouse’s Perseverance
He was full of joy and gratitude for what the Lord did for him, and I rejoiced with him too. Later I stopped to share with his wife my gratitude for the grace of God in her life as she persevered with her husband. Too often, spouses are exasperated, exhausted, bitter, and even angry about what is happening to them and their marriages. Though it was hard on her, she persevered and stayed the course.
I told her that I remember standing beside my son’s baseball field, taking a call from her, from another city in South Carolina. She was struggling so much. She was at her rope’s end. But she stayed the course. She fought. She persevered. She is a testimony of God’s grace. While we rejoice at his transformation, I did not want her testimony of God’s grace to go unnoticed. She received my encouragement with tears.
As for this old counselor, it’s good to hear about the victories, even if they come six years after you meet with a person. God is so good to all of us. He persevered with me for twenty-five years before transformation came.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8