“Dad, Are You in Danger?”

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). I don’t believe I have ever met a dad who would consider himself simple. However, there have been times in my life when I acted in a simple fashion, and I expect that might be true of many dads as well.

Over fifteen years ago, I took a test to qualify for a sales position. It was a personality profiler, and if my profile matched the standard, I could transfer to a potentially lucrative sales position in the company. If my personality wasn’t similar to the top sales performers they evaluated, then I would stay in my present job. I passed the test—not because I was similar to the other salesmen, but because I knew how they would answer. Did I lie or cheat on the test? Of course not! Well, at least not according to my reasoning.

I moved my family away from friends, a wonderful church, and across the country from Florida to Washington. I soon was a failure in my job! Everything that could go wrong was going wrong. This simply did not make sense since God had always blessed my work in the past.

I could have saved my family and myself a lot of hardship had I discussed the test at length with Teri. She has such a sensitive spirit that she would have immediately seen that I had not responded honestly on the test. She would have cautioned me about heading down a path based on deceit.

I read about a rancher who made a very bad decision. He had greatly benefited by some men’s help, but later, when he had the opportunity to help them in return, he was rude and offensive. His words were so inflammatory that these men purposed to kill the rancher and the men in his household.

The rancher was a good example of a poor leader. His foolish behavior led his wife to feel the need to step in and take leadership. Sadly, that is exactly what happens in many “Christian” homes today. Dad will make a poor decision, and his wife will attempt to come to the rescue to protect the family from perceived consequences.

Frequently Teri and I will observe the agonizing dichotomy a wife is faced with because of her husband’s decisions. The wife knows the husband is the head and supposed to lead the family, yet she sees the consequences that are looming ahead. She sees herself with two choices. First, she could decide to be submissive and let the consequences, which may ultimately be used by God to teach her husband a lesson, come upon the family. Second, she could decide to usurp her husband’s role, jump in, and possibly miss a growth opportunity.

The rancher I mentioned above was Nabal in 1 Samuel 25. He was so simple his name actually meant “fool.” Nabal’s wife Abigail understood the situation and knew her husband was in grave danger. She decided to take charge and appease David’s anger. Was it for the best? Only the Lord knows. In the end, God chose to take Nabal’s life even though David decided not to attack.

Many unbelievers purchase radar detectors for the purpose of breaking the law and avoiding the consequences. In some states radar detectors are illegal because they circumvent the authorities’ ability to punish wrong choices. The owners rely upon these devices because they don’t want to receive the very punishment that may help them make better, law-abiding decisions. Nathan and I went to breakfast years ago with a state senator who had a radar detector in his car. I couldn’t believe it. Here was a man who was responsible for making laws with a device built to circumvent the law. The lost may choose a radar detector, but may a man of God never consider it.

I believe God has equipped wives with a special sensitivity to know when God is about to chastise the husband. Think of your wife as a God-given, legal radar detector of sorts. This “consequence avoider” is given for the purpose of learning before the chastisement is sent. If only we would receive this “help” and humble ourselves by listening to our wives’ counsel, I believe we would have the God-given opportunity to learn before the trip to the woodshed.

At one time we were renting an enormous, poorly insulated house in Washington. It was the only rental we could find. We were heating it by wood because fuel oil for the furnace would have been very costly. Unfortunately on some days, the county imposed a wood-burning ban on everyone who did not depend on wood for their primary source of heat.

Using my great rationalizing abilities (Teri has another example in her August 2001 Mom’s Corner), I decided that since the fuel oil was prohibitively expensive, our wood stove was our primary source of heat. I was completely satisfied with my decision. Every time I heard the ban announced on the radio and the mention of the consequences for those caught, it did not bother me in the slightest. I was at peace.

Oh dear brothers, may I encourage you to never justify a decision solely because you are at peace with it. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people use that as a reason the decision they made was the right one, when even a cursory, objective study of a few appropriate Bible verses would reveal otherwise. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).

We are sinners at heart and must be on guard because the heart is wicked and deceitful. We can selfishly justify anything. Divorce, adultery, pornography, stealing from an employer (time or materially), and breaking the law (my wood-burning example) can all be rationalized. “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king” (1 Samuel 12:24-25).

One day on the way to church the subject of the wood burning came up. Teri, in a very gentle way, shared that she believed I was breaking the law. I expect you can guess how I responded. I did the only natural thing and was offended, becoming angry with her. How could she say that? Didn’t she understand how expensive it was to burn that fuel oil for such a large house? What she didn’t understand was why I would choose to break the law.

It didn’t take long before the truth of her words broke through my hard heart. I humbled myself to her, asked forgiveness for my anger, and made the decision to turn the oil furnace on. What would have been the consequences had I not listened? I believe someone would have turned me in, and I would have been fined. Maybe the greatest negative result would have been that my testimony would have been harmed had I continued burning wood. I think we too often forget about how our neighbors view our wrong decisions.

As members of the body of Christ, when we make choices contrary to God’s Word, the world notices and mocks God. When a Christian gets a divorce, generations will suffer. When Christians commit adultery, even if the marriage survives, the scars will never be removed from those involved and probably from the children as well. When a man commits mental adultery using pornography, he will never be the same again, he will torture the heart of his wife, and his prayers will be cut off until he repents (1 Peter 3:7). The list goes on.

There may be some men reading this who are in grave danger. “. . . There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 5:16). 1 Corinthians 11:30 says, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” There are times when the Lord will send sickness and death to chasten. Paul was referring to men who were taking the Lord’s Supper and had not dealt with sin in their lives. It is very likely that there are some men reading this Corner who are at serious risk.

There may be many others who have ignored the cautions of their “consequence detector” and may be facing some difficulties that could have been avoided. Why put yourself and your family through it? Why not ask your wife if there are areas that she has expressed a caution about and that you haven’t heard? Then take those before the Lord with a repentant heart, and ask the Lord what you should do.

There are others who may be missing out on blessings that God desires to give you. I have observed that often it is the wife’s heart that appears to be sensitive to the Lord’s promptings.

Dads, may I encourage you to go to your wife and ask her if there are issues that are on her heart that she either has brought up previously or has been afraid to bring up. I know there can be times when I will not want to listen to what Teri may be sharing. Usually, the subject matter is something that is a little painful, and I would rather not hear her. I’m not implying that just because Teri has a caution I will automatically receive it and respond to it. However, I have learned that I had better be prayed up and have good Scriptural basis for not responding to her counsel.

God has given each of us a marvelous helpmeet and equipped her with great sensitivity. May we each listen to our wives’ counsel in order to grow and avoid consequences. May we be men of God and take our wives’ counsel to the Lord and His Word for confirmation (God may not confirm it, but we must take it ever so seriously). When God does take us to the woodshed, may we be men about it and humble ourselves to our family, admit our failure, and share what we learned from it.

God bless each of you as you endeavor to be a man of God and lead your family in His ways.

She Prayed – Part 1

I expect, as Christian women reading Ephesians 5:22-33, we would agree that the Bible teaches wives to reverence their husbands and to be submissive to them. However, I wonder how we apply the practical, daily aspects of reverencing and submitting. In particular, how do we handle situations where the Lord puts on our hearts a conviction or direction but not on our husbands’?

We may wonder if we should bring the subject up. Should we share our heart concerns unsolicited, or should we wait to see if he asks our input? Do we speak of it once and then drop it? Do we bring it up every few weeks? Do we share others’ stories in the area or ask him to read a book on the topic?

In this Corner, I am not giving you specific answers to those questions. What I am going to do is point you to one sure biblical way to deal with the problem. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Several years ago part of our roof began to leak. As the head of the household, Steve was very concerned about the leak’s potential damage to the house. He immediately said we needed a new roof. The problem was that we did not have the cash for a new roof and were committed to no more borrowing.

However, Steve decided that we would borrow the necessary money for a new roof. I spoke my heart passionately concerning our agreement not to be in debt and asked if there wasn’t some interim solution while we saved money as quickly as we could for the roof. He was determined to have the new roof and save the house.

I knew after that conversation that I had pushed as hard as I could push. I had met with a level of resistance on Steve’s part that was very unusual. I was so distraught I cried, when I was alone, over the possibility of borrowing for a roof. I also began to pray. It was the only avenue I felt I had left.

I prayed and waited as Steve had two roofers come out to give estimates. I kept praying. Then Steve started talking about some possibilities for redoing just the flashing area on the valley of the roof to see if that would keep the rain out until we could afford a new roof. That’s what he ended up doing! The “stopgap” project worked. We saved money judiciously for most of a year, and we finally had a new roof—debt free!

I once asked for some testimonials in this area of a wife praying when her heart does not agree with her husband’s. I received several stories from women who gave me permission to share them with you. These are examples to encourage you to see prayer as an ally in resolving differences between you and your husband. God can use it to change your husband’s heart, change your heart, or simply give you peace in the midst of unrest.

“I worked part-time as a secretary before our first daughter was born, but before I ever got married, I knew I wanted to stay home with my children. My husband didn’t see this as an option, but almost as soon as I found out I was expecting, I prayed that God would make a way for me to be able to stay home with my child. However, as soon as my daughter turned six weeks old, my husband instructed me to call the company I worked for to let them know I would be back the following week. So I made the call, and to my husband’s disappointment, I was told I was no longer needed.

“I felt relieved at not having to leave my precious infant daughter, but not for long—he told me he wanted me to begin searching for a new job. This was a point of strife between us for a short while, but after receiving some wise counsel from someone I confided in, I told my husband I was willing to submit to his wishes and would begin looking for a new job.

“It was at that point that God answered my prayers, and my husband told me he did not want me working outside the home, even if it meant putting off the purchase of a new home for a while (which it did). It’s interesting that God answered my prayer in this matter when I did what was required of me, which was submitting to my husband instead of arguing with him.” Jill

“My husband had a vasectomy six years ago, after our having three children. Because I was raised to be in submission to my husband, I signed the papers for him to have a vasectomy. He was convinced that this was the right thing for us, and no matter how much I cried and pleaded, he wanted the vasectomy.

“For the next three years, I was so angry with him! And I was unbelievably hurt, even though he assured me that he did not think I was a bad mother. He honestly thought that my emotional health would be hurt by having more children because I was so often frustrated, short-tempered, and exhausted with the three we had.

“In the late summer of 1999, I read testimonies of women whose husbands had had vasectomy reversals and were hoping that God would give them more children. I began to mention this to my husband, who simply listened to me, but didn’t say anything one way or the other.

“Then I started praying for his heart to be changed about having more children, and I asked the Lord to show me that his heart had changed before our anniversary, which is in October, without my having to say a word about it.

“A couple of weeks before our anniversary, out of the blue my husband asked me if I wanted to adopt a baby! I was stunned! I asked him why he was even considering it, because he had always been totally against adoption in the past. He said he didn’t really know why, just that God had opened his heart toward more children!!!

“Over the course of two or three months, he apologized to me for making such a major decision without me and not giving me any choice in the matter, and he talked to our pastor about adoption. Our pastor suggested a reversal.

“At this point, we haven’t taken any steps in either direction, adoption or reversal. I have left that in God’s hands, to guide my husband. An unexpected blessing for me was the total peace that God gave me about the whole thing. I used to agonize over not having any more children, and then was up in the clouds at the possibility of having more. But now I can truly say that I am ready for whatever God has planned for us. If I never have another baby, I am at peace about it.

“So God has blessed my prayer and trust in Him, too! I know that my husband will follow God’s leading. He is a very godly, dedicated man whose life’s desire is to please God.” Susan

“My husband and I have four children. After number four, we used birth control because I was so afraid of getting pregnant again. I wanted more children, but was afraid of labor and finances. My husband was supportive of this decision. He felt like we were done and readily accepted the birth-control decision.

“About seven months went by and my guilt increased daily. I felt like we had taken something that was God’s and made it ours. I began to pray that God would show us what to do. I talked to my husband, and he said that he didn’t think it would be wise for us to have more children. He wanted us to be done.

“The next few weeks we didn’t talk about it much. I continued to pray that God would have His way with our family. One day my husband and I had a conversation. I told him that I really did not feel like it was okay to use birth control. I felt like God should decide how many children we had. He was the giver and taker of life, and I would not get pregnant if it was not His will. He said he agreed with the concept, but didn’t know if we could do it financially, etc.

“The next few weeks passed with more prayer. Then we had a very different conversation. My husband now believes that we shouldn’t try to have another baby, but we shouldn’t prevent it either. He says that it is totally in God’s hands.” Jennie

While these testimonials deal with three of the bigger issues on which a husband and wife may have differing opinions, they illustrate maintaining a quiet, trusting spirit through prayer and then resting. The results may not always be as we have read here, but God is sovereign. We can trust Him no matter what the outcome is or when it comes. I would much rather have the Lord change Steve’s heart than for me to talk, cajole, and push him into it. I would also rather not have Steve’s heart change if it isn’t the Lord’s will. If Steve gives into a decision simply to please me, then we run the risk of being out of God’s will.

These issues concerning how a husband and wife relate to each other arise daily and are ongoing. May we, as Christian women, bless our husbands by being women who pray about our differences rather than being drippy faucets.

(Update: since this Corner was written, I have begun giving a session called, Loving Your Husband. In it, I encourage you to develop and strengthen your relationship with your husband, and I share many personal examples. Also, Dr. S. M. Davis has two excellent resources we highly recommend on reverence and attitudes: How a Wife Can Use Reverence to Build or Save Her Marriage  and The Attitude No Lady Should Have.)