The biblical parenting model is one of a father and a mother working together to raise children who love God and obey Him. A man and his wife can make this joint effort only if he and his wife are of one faith and share the same basic beliefs. If they do, they can encourage and support each other as they work toward a common goal.
However, if this couple does not share the same basic beliefs, the challenge of parenting becomes twice as difficult. I can tell you that my parents had it very difficult. I almost followed in their footsteps. But God changed all that.
What is your story? Do you long for your spouse to share the same basic beliefs? Believe. God can save your unbelieving spouse. Please let me explain.
The Lord Our God Will Open a Way
Because you know your spouse better than anyone else, you may sometimes find yourself wondering if he or she will ever become a believer. Do not doubt. If you doubt, you will be discouraged. Do not give up on your husband or your wife. If you do, your heart will become bitter and, if left unchecked, it will become hardened.
Instead study Paul's counsel to men and women who were in your shoes. He told them not to walk out of their marriage. He put it this way, "For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (1 Cor 7:16).
Therefore, if, in times of frustration, you catch yourself muttering under your breath or uttering in jest that your spouse is a hopeless case, ask God to forgive you. No situation is ever too difficult for Him to handle. If you let Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we worship, can save your spouse. He will open a way.
I know this firsthand. The way came for me in the form of a test. Soon after I found God and made my way back to church with two young children in tow, my husband wanted me to sever all ties with the True Jesus Church or risk the breakup of our marriage. This put me in a difficult situation, like that in between a rock and a hard place.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would have given in to him for the children's sake, especially since my own childhood was embroiled in religious conflict. But I had finally found God after a lifetime of wandering in the wilderness of this world, and I did not want to give Him up now. As far as I was concerned, I wanted to keep my faith and my marriage.
There was another reason. The conflict made me realize that I was another generation of women in my line of the family whose husband was an unbeliever. Somehow, it occurred to me that if I did not hold on to my newfound faith, the pattern would never be broken and my daughters would, through no fault of their own, be next in line. The thought frightened me.
The Lord Our God Will Give You Faith
You will know in your heart when God has opened a way for you to introduce your spouse to Him. When God has opened a way for you, your resolve is to follow His lead. You will not get lost if you do. When God opens a way, He does not leave you alone to figure out where to go and what to do. Instead, He will guide you every step of the way.
He sees the big picture of your life, as well as your spouse's life. Remember, He is the creator of heaven and earth and everything in it, you and your spouse included. It's important that you remember God is in control. If you do, you will trust Him, even though you cannot make sense of everything that is going on now or see what's up ahead.
Still, there are some practical things you can do at this time. You can develop a keen sense of observation and go where He wants you to go. Listen to what He is telling you. Obey Him. This is your time of trial and temptation. A merciful God, our Lord will give you the measure of faith that your heart desires.
I know this firsthand. Without God's mercy, I would not have known where to go and what to do when the Lord opened a way for me. A grown woman in my early thirties, I had only just begun reading the Bible a few years earlier. If anyone had given me a Bible knowledge quiz in those days, I would have failed; not even an open book test would have helped.
But there were a few passages that left a deep impression on my heart and in my mind. One of them was Jesus' parable of the persistent widow (Lk 18:1-8), a story our Lord told to show His disciples that "they should always pray and not give up." The woman's persistence fired up my imagination!
It also triggered childhood memories of my mother's habit of reaching out to the folks at church for their prayerful support, and I found myself imitating her. In due time, the Word of God would be proven right.
The Lord Our God Will Give You Patience
Times of trial and temptation are ordeals that come and go in a Christian's life. They are a necessary part of our spiritual journey. Every ordeal helps us grow one step closer to meeting God's standard of perfection. When you understand this, you will not try to get ahead of God. You will learn to be patient.
A large dose of patience will help take off much of the pressure you are already experiencing. Living in these uncertain times, you may feel a great need to speed up the process of your husband or wife's conversion. But if you are impatient, you may hurt the process more than you can help.
Your impatience may add to a lot more pressure in the home than that which already exists in the course of everyday living. A build-up of pressure blows away the peace and stability in a home. When parents let this happen, our children are the ones most affected.
As a believer, you want to keep in mind that the Lord our God understands the sense of urgency you are feeling. When you do, you will learn to keep your emotions in check. You will not try to hurry up your spouse's conversion according to your own timetable or give up on him or her altogether. A merciful God, our Lord will give you the measure of patience your heart desires.
I know this firsthand. I grew up in an environment where the believing spouse nearly always brought the couple's children to attend Sabbath services without the unbelieving spouse's approval. Many ill feelings are created in these types of situation.
When I was caught in between a rock and a hard place, I found myself gravitating toward Peter's counsel to women who were in my shoes. Here's that verse in today's NKJV Bible, "Wives...be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (1 Pet 3:1,2).
These words shone like a lamp in the dark to give me a sense of direction in my time of trial and temptation. They gave me hope and encouragement. As a result, I told my husband that I would not go to church if he did not want me to. I did not know when he would change his mind, but I was willing to wait. In due time, the word of God would be proven right.
The Lord Our God Will Give You Perseverance
If it is your heart's desire that your spouse will become a believer, you must be prepared to support and encourage him or her every step of the way. Are you willing to stick it out, however long it takes, and, whatever sacrifices you must make? This calls for perseverance
A dictionary defines perseverance as "continued steady effort to achieve an aim." Perseverance is good for us. It helps us become better Christians. It is written, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (Jas 1:4 NIV).
Knowing that we still have a long way to go in our own Christian walk helps us look at the situation in proper perspective. When we remember that we ourselves haven't quite make it yet, we will learn to empathize with our spouse and help him or her along, whether at great risk or minor inconvenience.
When we have this kind of commitment, nothing and no one can distract us. Instead, we will keep our eyes on Jesus and keep on going. Again, a merciful God, our Lord will give you the measure of perseverance your heart desires.
I know this firsthand. We used to live a five-minute drive away from church. When my husband started attending Sabbath services, we were in the process of moving away to a more affordable part of the country.
For a time, I worried that if we bought a house before my husband became a believer, he would never get saved. As it turned out, he received baptism of water and of the Holy Spirit well before the purchase of our house was finalized. But here's where perseverance comes into my story.
It so happened that during this period, my husband's employers were making improvements to the production lines at work and he was required to be present on Saturdays. Although this wasn't a problem when we were still living at our old address and I could drive the short distance to church, it became an issue after the move.
Immediately, I found myself making Sabbath plans that did not include my husband. I took our children to church on public transportation. My husband was very unhappy when he got home from work one evening. Because my plans weren't going so well, I stopped to consider the situation.
Somehow, it looked to me that I was becoming a stumbling block in a new believer's Christian walk. It didn't look right. Drawing strength from the virtue of submission as taught in the Bible, I waited for my husband to complete his assignment.
I did not know how long I would have to wait, but I looked forward to the day when we would again be going to church and worshipping God together as a family. In due time, the word of God would be proven right.
In Bible times, God regularly turned around impossible situations in people's lives. My experiences tell me that the Lord still makes such things happen today. You only have to believe that He does. I do not know how He will make it happen for you, but my experiences tell me that you have to change your attitude and let go of feelings and thoughts that chain you to the letter of the word.
Rather, give yourself permission to trust in the might of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will guide you to know what it is to believe in the spirit of the word. To take this bold step, you need to pray for strength and courage. God will help you. He will not let you down, and He will save your spouse.
I can testify to this because my husband received baptism on January 1, 1989, about one and a half years after God had opened a way for me to introduce him to the Lord. He received the Holy Spirit at the next spiritual convocation that was held six months later.
The following year, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. On December 13, 1993, my husband passed away. Five evenings before he died, he suddenly called out in his sleep, "Lord, here I am." I can make no more compelling argument than this.
May our Lord and merciful God give you faith, patience, and perseverance. May His name be forever praised.