Easter is a very special day for us. It’s special first because of Christ’s resurrection and what that did for our faith, and second, because of Mark’s resurrection and what that did for our marriage.
There are three parts to Easter: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday was darkness, Saturday was silence, and Sunday was the resurrection. Sometimes we experience something similar in life. Here’s my husband, Mark’s story in his own words:
2011 was a year of darkness for me. I had transitioned from 20 years of church ministry to being a business owner. As that transition merged with my 50th birthday, I began to lose my footing emotionally and spiritually. I moved from discouragement to disappointment to disillusionment. In my disillusionment I decided I wasn’t going to do things God’s way anymore because he wasn’t answering my prayers the way I wanted Him to. I was going to do things my way. As I gave into my own selfish flesh, I ended up in a full-blown midlife crisis.
Of course, it didn’t feel like a crisis initially. It felt like I was taking control of my life for the first time. But when we pursue sin, it draws us in initially and then catches up with us eventually. I had an affair. I left Jill and the kids. I believed, in my own desperation, that I could ride off into a new relationship and life would be great. The longer I did things my way the bigger the mess I created. That season was “Friday,” metaphorically speaking, and eventually it became very dark.
Over 9 months of time, I went back and forth between my marriage and the other relationship 7 times. I was a conflicted man during the “Saturday” of that season. God seemed silent and I remained lost. In the midst of all of that a friend introduced me to the writings of Andrew Murray. Andrew was an 18th century pastor whose writing reminds me of a loving grandfather leading you to understand God better. Andrew wrote a powerful book called Absolute Surrender that really spoke to me in the midst of my confusion. I learned from Andrew that absolute surrender was a must for the successful Christian life. I thought that Jesus had been Lord of my life, but as I read Absolute Surrender I discovered I had really never fully surrendered to God.
It was Easter Sunday 2012, when I heard God clearly speak to me saying, “Mark, if you will trust me for the mess, I will take care of everything else!” I was desperate for peace. I knew I’d made a mess and I wanted that mess to be gone. I knew that surrender was what I needed to do. Were there things in my marriage I wanted to see change? Absolutely. Was I scared to recommit? Absolutely. Was it the right thing to do? Absolutely.
I announced to Jill Easter morning that I was filing for divorce. She was quiet for some time. Then she said, “Mark, Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. He asked God to “take the cup away from him.” But eventually he surrendered with the words, “Not my will, but yours.”
Her words hit me hard. My mind swirled in a tug of war between God’s way and my way. As my heart tugged further towards God’s way, I began to see things differently. It was like the scales were falling off my eyes. I knew what I had to do and I surrendered. Fully. 100%. I stopped fighting God. I stopped telling God what to do. I can’t even begin to describe to you what that felt like. It was an incredible peace. The image I have carried since then is that I am walking down the middle of the road holding the hand of my Father, going at His pace, where He wants to go and how He wants to get there. I am fully surrendered to Him. This was completely foreign and new in the beginning, but I have really grown to be at peace with this and Him. I’m now living in the “Sunday” of resurrection. There’s hope, life, and light. There’s peace, joy, and God’s truth anchoring my heart.
Mark is truly a different person since Easter 2012. There is a steadiness to him I’d never seen in the first 28 years of our marriage. He’s loyal, committed, and peace-filled. He has inspired me to learn to surrender more, as well. To surrender control. To surrender criticism and judgment. To surrender to God’s plan and God’s way.
During that dark Friday season of my life, my resurrection happened the day I remembered the words of my friend Jennifer Rothschild who I’d heard say years earlier, “Even though it isn’t well with my circumstances, it can be well with my soul.” With that I surrendered my need to control the outcome. It was about halfway through Mark’s dark year. Nothing had changed in my world that day, but the condition of my heart moved from darkness to light. I didn’t know if my marriage would make it, but I knew that even though the world around me had changed, my God hadn’t changed and that was where I was going to keep my eyes. Friday was dark, Saturday was difficult. Sunday was light.
We all have our Fridays. Those places where we try to control our circumstances or the people around us. Those seasons where a medical diagnosis takes our breath away. Or a loved one makes a decision that not only affects their life but affects ours as well.
What is Friday for you? Where its dark. Where you are fighting God. What do you need to let go of and let God lead? How are you trying to “lead God” instead of let God lead you? Absolute surrender will give you a resurrection experience you are longing for and make this an Easter to remember.
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