Sienna came into my office and crumpled dejectedly into the chair across from my desk. With tears streaming from her eyes, she said, Pastor Sam, I want out of my marriage. Shawn and I were married sixteen years ago. When we started dating, I was on a rebound from a broken relationship. I discovered I was pregnant, and even though we didnt really have any feelings of true love for each other, we decided to marry for the sake of the baby. There has never been any real love in our marriage. Now, Shawn is drinking too much. Hes becoming verbally abusive, and Im tired of putting up with him.
Her words, I just want out! reverberated through sobs and tears. My Daddy heart wanted to give her comfort, and say, Its OK. Youve given the relationship sixteen years; its not getting any better, so its all right to get out. But I closed my eyes and silently prayed for wisdom, and both Sienna and I were shocked at the words that tumbled out of my mouth. I said, Sienna, our Lord Jesus Christ can give you and Shawn a love for each other that youve never had. He can heal your marriage and give you a Christian home like youve never dreamed! Ill never forget Siennas reaction as long as I live. She jumped up. I thought she was coming to hug me for my words of wisdom. But she screamed at me, Thats not what I wanted to hear from you! She ran out into the hall, slammed the door, and left. It was so loud that my secretary ran up the stairs to see if I was OK! And I thought, through tears, Well, Sam, you really helped her a lot, didnt you! Youll probably never see her again! But I did! Shawn and Sienna were out of church for several weeks; they showed up one Sunday morning. Sienna asked if she could talk with me.
I hoped things were better. But it was a repeat performance: I want out! Jesus can put new love in your hearts! Scream: Thats not what I wanted to hear! Gone! That scene repeated itself several times in the next year. I began to believe it was a hopeless relationship. Shawn and Sienna were bound by incorrigible defeat. Months later, I was directing our choir in the musical Living Witnesses. In preparation for the song Theres Life in Jesus Name, the instructions said to have a testimony of the transforming power of God in someones life. No one but I knew who it would be. Sienna walked to the microphone. She told the whole story of her and Shawns brokenness, her visits with me, the advice I gave her, her screams at me; running out on me, the counseling they received, prayers of family and friends for their reconciliation. She looked down at Shawn, and said, through teary eyes, Shawn, I want to tell you today in front of all our friends that I love you with the love Jesus placed in my heart for youa love we never had in all the years of our marriage! She thanked the congregation and me for our prayers and support. As they embraced in the aisle, everyone stood up and erupted into spontaneous praise and applause. The choir exploded into singing Theres Life in Jesus Name! And we all knew there was joy in heaven that day as Shawn and Sienna went soaring from incorrigible defeat to incredible praise! The same God who healed, restored, and refreshed Shawn and Sienna can take you and your loved ones soaring from incorrigible defeat to incredible praise! new creations! Transforming hearts transforming lives!
Thanks, Lord, for the awesome power of love, prayer, listening, and the Word to transform hearts transform lives! For making everything fresh and new in Christ!
– Dr. Sam Bruce, President, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; Pastor, Hope Point Church, Pearl, Mississippi; Online Instructor, Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma