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Everyone has struggles. But God's power will free us when we give ourselves to Him.
I took the old shoebox from my closet and looked through the tattered love letters James had written to me during his first year of college. It occurred to me that they were 20-year-old letters.
A lot had happened in 20 years.
We'd become a family of five. The James Robison Evangelistic Association had grown to its peak in outreach. Many respected spiritual leaders described James as the most dynamic and gifted preacher of our day.
I chose a letter randomly and read its yellowed pages, hoping to recapture a sense of my husband's early passion for the Lord:
Betty, I went to the woods as soon as I could get away from class. God's presence saturated the place where I sat, and He seemed to say, "I've been waiting for you, James."
I felt as if I could reach up and take Him by the hand. I told Him, "I want to tell everyone how great You are."
God said something that totally stunned me. He told me He wanted to use me to preach His Word to the world. I told Him I couldn't begin to think in those terms.
Then He said, "Within a year, you will be preaching in the largest churches, stadiums and coliseums." He showed me thousands of people crowding the aisles and surrounding the platform to surrender their lives to Jesus.
I dropped to my knees and told God that He didn't have to give me a big ministry like that.
"All I care about is You and me, Jesus, right here. No matter what happens, if You give me a big ministry or a small one, I promise I'll always come right back here to You and tell You that I love You."
Tears filled my eyes as I read the last line again.
"Oh God," I prayed, "everything you showed him that day has happened. You kept your word to James.
"Why didn't he keep his promise to You? What's happening to him?
"After the last crusade, he asked me to pray that he would die. He talked about depression and lustful thoughts that were tormenting him. He says it's not my fault, but I know it is.
"I'm not close to You like James is," I cried. "He has always been the strong one. How can I help him?"
How Did We Get Here?
When I first started planning a future with my shy high school sweetheart, I imagined a safe, comfortable and predictable life. But then God called James to preach and filled him with boldness—and I became the wife of a man in public ministry.
To survive I made sure I did all the right religious things. At the same time, I insulated myself by sticking close to the one place I felt safe: at home with my family.
Meanwhile James' zeal and the demands of his schedule thrust him into a web of religious activity. Somewhere in the midst of all his busyness for God, however, he lost his intimacy with God. By his late 20s he found himself experiencing defeat, depression and emptiness.
I prayed desperate prayers for him. People close to him also prayed and attempted to speak into his life.
Eventually, by the grace and power of God, James experienced a dramatic deliverance. The change in him was striking. His schedule remained busy, but now his heart and soul were peaceful and unstressed.
He studied the Bible for hours each day as a new, life-giving message seemed to explode in his preaching. He used every possible platform to describe the victory he'd found, hoping to set other captives free.
I was happy for James, but I was also horrified at having our private lives played out openly before the world. James' new freedom destroyed my comfort zones and created a whole new, unpredictable world for me.
Suddenly I was forced to deal with my own well-disguised strongholds, which glared in ugly contrast to the open, Christ-like life James was now living.
Holy Spirit showed me that my strongholds were largely the result of deceptive thinking—lies from the enemy I had believed from an early age.
As a bashful middle child, I had developed a pattern of thinking negative thoughts about my appearance, my intelligence and my purpose in life. I had avoided competition and seldom attempted anything new—not because I lacked interest, but because I was afraid of failing.
I had carried that baggage into my marriage. No matter how James tried to build me up, I was never able to receive his edification.
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