The Family Tree

Many years ago at one of our annual international conventions, Michael revved up a chain saw and began cutting the limbs off a tree he had brought onstage. The point of his illustration was that the devil likes to chop as many branches off the Family Tree as possible and stack them up as fire wood.

It was a powerful illustration and those who witnessed it still talk about it to this day. There is something about seeing the visual destruction of a tree that speaks louder than any words.

In recent years I have enjoyed tracing our family tree back in time. It is a fascinating hobby and I find I have to force myself to stop looking things up and tend to other pressing needs. Seeing how one family connects to another and then another and another never gets old for me. Plus, in the process I have discovered many amazing things about our ancestors. Finding each couple and then tracing their family members gives me a feeling of connectivity to the past and to the future.

In a Family Tree, each married couple is connected by a solid line and each of their children flow off their combined union. When a couple divorces, though, the solid line becomes a dotted line. To me it is an amazing visual of two people who are still connected through the passage of time but at the same time are separated.

I have also discovered that the further back in ancestry, the harder it is to determine which children came from which marriage. On one site they will be listed under one marriage and under another one on a different site. It is clear that each one of those dotted lines represents a family that was torn apart and the confusion of connectivity continued through the years.

I guess if we had a huge amount of space in which to store data and the ability to continue tracing backward, we would all eventually end up with Adam and Eve, our common parents. It makes me think of God’s original plan for marriage and family and how messed up it has gotten through the years. Society plays a big part in what people accept in families and time has eroded God’s plan from the thoughts of many.

Years ago divorce was an unacceptable answer to marital problems. The down side was that many times couples stayed together, but didn’t get the help they needed to have a vibrant, life-filled marriage. So through the years divorce became a more accepted solution until today when it is almost the expected thing to do when there are problems in a marriage.

Too many think that marriage is supposed to fulfill them or make them happy and when those expectations are not met, they see no other solution than to leave the marriage. And another branch is chopped from the tree.

Our hearts long to help couples see that God’s plan for marriage is exactly what most express in their wedding vows–a covenant relationship that remains strong until death. In many ways, that is an uphill battle in this day and age. Divorce has become easy and acceptable. Remarriage has become the predictable norm following the breakup of marriage. Children are shuffled between parents and often end up with step-parents at least once, if not more times than that.

How do we teach each new generation what God desires when at an ever increasing rate people are pursuing what they desire? It is now considered harsh and legalistic to tell people that divorce and remarriage are sin. I can’t count how many times we have been told that God wants people to be happy. That has always seemed strange to me coming from people who just told us how miserable marriage had made them.

Where does it stop? Where do we draw the line in the sand and say, No More? It begins with those who are willing to pay the price and to stand against modern thinking and easy grace. Drawing a line and holding it is not easy and many will work to push you off that stand. It will often make you feel you are swimming upstream as large groups pass you going in the opposite direction.

Yet here, on the face of the earth, there is a growing army of people who will not give in to social pressure and who will not just roll over and let the enemy chop off another limb from their Family Tree. You are the Hebrews 11 people, those who through the generations have stood on the Word of God and walked in faith. We salute you, brave warriors, and honor the choice you have made. Our prayers are with you for courage and strength to go the distance! Love, Marilyn

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  Hebrews 11:3

Close to My Heart

A few weeks ago I was sitting beside our youngest grandson on the glider in our backyard. We weren’t talking very much, just sitting together and enjoying the garden. Then he turned and looked up at me and with deadly seriousness he asked,

“Grandma, do you know we’re getting a divorce?”

The words cut through my heart and I fought to keep back tears. I had wondered when he would be willing to talk about it and had left the timing to him. Never did I suspect, though, that he would take ownership of it. To him this wasn’t just Mom and Dad that were splitting up, it was the whole family.

Through the years we have watched many couples change their stand on divorce and remarriage when their own children went through divorce. They always told us, “It’s different when it’s your own child.” I often wondered how it could be. Truth is truth, no matter whose marriage it is. God’s plan to be faithful “until death do us part” is His marriage covenant. We have always said we can’t control what our children do, but we can control how we react.

Knowing God’s truth about marriage and seeing His miraculous healing of so many marriage through the years makes the pain of watching our own children’s divorce even greater. Knowing that God not only can heal a marriage but wants to, makes choosing the devil’s answer even more tragic.

Seeing our children under attack also makes us twice as angry at the enemy! We are experiencing the pain that so many of you have of living in a “no fault” divorce state where the enemy can tear apart a home with no resistance, where no counseling is mandatory, and no hope is given.

Again, as I have asked so many times before, where is the Church? Why is there no battle for this family? Why is the devil’s solution seen as a Godly answer? I know you have asked these same questions in your own life. Sometimes it seems all of us are a lone voice crying out, yet it makes us more determined than ever to see the enemy lose once again. And this time for the greater glory of God!

On Chad and Cristine’s wedding day, we challenged all their bridesmaids and groomsmen (and there were 20 of them) that they had voluntarily chosen to be witnesses to their covenant. If their marriage came under attack, they needed to stand with both of them, not taking sides, but fighting for both of them and for their marriage and family. Well, that hour is here. Now is the time to surround them with prayer support and stand together with them. It is not a time to agree with one in opposition to the other. On the day they married, Chad became our son and we stand and fight the enemy for both of them, for their marriage, and for their precious children.

Our generation has seen God work miracles in family relationships. We have witnessed impossible situations changed as only God can do. Yet at the same our children’s generation has witnessed break up after break up of marriages in both the Church and the world with few people ever offering any Godly alternative. A marriage that is meant to last a lifetime is only a dream to so many! As we walk through this, may this generation also see the powerful hand of God that we have witnessed through the years!

That day in the garden when our grandson asked me that painful question, he added with hope in his voice, “But we don’t know if it’s permanent.” Amen! The faith of a little child’s heart should be what we all stand in right now. Love, Marilyn

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4