So a Baptist, a Pentacostal and a Reformed guy walk into a... Sure sounds like a joke doesn't it? It does, but it's actually the start of an amazing marriage conference where stories of deceit, addiction, infidelity, armed robbery and, oh by the way, profound Redemption are the order of the day. And this Redemption gives couples who may not be sure they still want to be married, or for most, how to work through significant betrayal and pain, this Redemption from 'Spiritual Leaders' gives them hope. The couples who attended gain hope that maybe their marriage isn't over and God isn't through growing them just yet.
And so it was in Concordia, MO this past weekend. Friday night a couple of pastors shared about their worst moments as men and husbands. The beauty of this is that God's grace shines brightly in their darkness. God didn't give up on them, their marriages or them serving others in His name. Their wives were equally courageous, authentic, sinful and delightful. Ann and I shared our horrifically beautiful story too.
My favorite moment from such a weekend comes from many choices. Sometimes it is just knowing that what we do gives many struggling couples hope for their future together. We're nothing special in the sense that we were majorly screwed up and now are a little less screwed up. Couples can say, "Wow, we have our stuff but so did they." This time, I could choose from reconnecting with John and Amber who went through a similar conference almost a decade ago and now were hosting their own, or the amazing lunch worth more than the conference fee, or Emily Russell's soulful music, or the hope on the curly redhead's face, or seeing hardened couples soften to one another. Any of those is great.
But my favorite moment happened in the parking lot during the break on Saturday morning. He talked to me while studying the asphalt.
He said, "I don't know. I've hurt her too much. It's not like just one time. Drugs, booze, other women. Maybe I'm wasting my time."
We talked more about upcoming 4th steps (fearless moral inventory) and 5th steps (sharing that 4th step with another human being.) I mentioned how this conference is like doing 4th and 5th steps on specific topics. We talked about their years together, hope and hopelessness.
And then I said, "Let's just say you've got a thousand steps to take. This weekend is taking four or five of those steps. Those are still steps in the right direction that need to be taken."
He took enough hope from those words to stay. I laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him feeling the unseasonable warmth of this January day on my back and in my heart. His anxiousness subsided and they worked through what they could work through over the weekend. Their work is far from over, but I look forward to hearing about their journey.
So thank you, John and Amber, for having us into your home and church. Your heart for the couples attending is inspiring. We are grateful for your trust and friendship.