"Mary - The Pastor's Wife Who Dreaded Being Left Behind!"

Mary came to me looking horribly distraught and terribly guilt-ridden. She assured me that she had been forsaken by God, and that she would only be wasting my time which could be better spent with anyone else.

As if to shock me she told me she felt she had been spiritually unfaithful to God, and emotionally unfaithful to her husband. She felt estranged from her husband spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Mary told me that her husband was a pastor in a mainline denomination. She added that her husband's greatest passion was to preach and defend that believers have eternal security once they first put their faith in Christ, no matter how badly they struggle with doubt or sin after they first receive Christ.

But, Mary could not get that assurance to stay rooted in her heart. She could simply not get any peace in her own soul that she was truly saved in spite of hundreds of trips to the altar.

In this she and her husband were so opposite of one another. But, as I have seen in hundreds of couples, I was sure her husband's gift was perfectly designed to frustrate something in Mary's flesh that she needed to put to death .

Mary's husband could not understand her and her struggle was perfectly designed to frustrate something in him that God wanted to transform as well.

Mary's husband could not understand and why the pastor's his wife was so often always the one at the altar when he preached such solid sermons about salvation through faith in Christ alone. For many years his efforts to reassure her about her salvation and security in Christ gave her little or no assurance. He felt the only person on earth he could not minister to was his own wife.

Mary's struggle was perfectly designed to frustrate her husband's reliance on that in which he was already strong - faith in the security of the believer in Christ. He was a bold preacher of the message of salvation from our sins and from separation from God. But he was not nearly so capable of preaching the good news of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to bring about more manifest sanctification in each believer.

Mary relied on her feelings, and didn't know why God was allowing her to struggle with them so painfully. Her husband relied on his training as a pastor and his vibrant insight into what was a part and not the whole of the Gospel. Neither of them could see past their frustration to the answer God wanted to reveal.

I asked Mary what she felt were the most frightening scriptures in the Bible. Without any hesitation she answered that it was the verses about "two people being in a bed and one being taken while the other was left," "two people working in a field and one was taken while the other was left." She feared that when Jesus returned for His Church - believers in Him - she would not be taken up to Him. She was sure she was the one who would be left behind in grief and unredeemable shame.

I knew from the evident "bad fruit" that Mary must have suffered a very painful abandonment very early in her life. Otherwise she was hiding a terrible sin over which the enemy was successfully accusing and condemning her.

I assured her that I believed she was indeed saved always and only through her faith in Christ, but explained to her that there must be a part of her old mind and old heart that was still trapped in a kind of fear and guilt which had somehow become a habitual posture of her life.

While I partly expected Mary to finally open up about some terrible sin she'd kept concealed, Mary only admitted to me that she felt horribly guilty over a dream that had reoccurred throughout her marriage.

Mary had dreamed repeatedly of another man who would be like a long lost soul-mate to her, and in whose presence she would finally be reassured and her fears would be taken away. Every time she woke from that dream she only felt more guilty that she could not seem to accept that Jesus was the man who could relieve her troubled soul, nor was her husband able to reassure her the way the man in the dream did.

She wondered if she might fall in love with such a man if he ever truly appeared, but the man in the dream was so pure that her curiosity about her feelings for him just made her feel more ashamed.

Feeling that she had no real spiritual strength or even emotional fidelity, Mary felt unworthy of being her husband's wife. In her emotional anguish and spiritual confusion she was not a good helpmate to him , she . She was only a constant drain and source of discouragement.

We worked backwards from her horrible dread of being forsaken by God, her sense of unworthiness as a pastor's wife, through her accounts of numerous episodes that made hers a life of terrible loneliness.

After a long session of hearing about all the times that Mary had felt abandoned by longtime friends who moved away, relatives that died, earlier boyfriends who had lost interest in her, opportunities that had suddenly been taken from her, and parents who could never console her in her grief. I knew Mary was a magnet for abandonment, and that she had suffered terribly in her life because of some very early abandonment.

I asked Mary who was the very first person to suddenly leave who she may have been close to as an infant, toddler or young child. God led us right to the root of the trouble in Mary's heart, mind and soul.

In the flesh Mary had been a twin in her mother's womb, but her twin had actually died within the last six or seven weeks of her mother's pregnancy. In other words Mary had been with a living twin brother in extremely close quarters from the start of her life, but suddenly the life had gone out of her brother, and she was left lying beside a lifeless corpse in the womb.

Though her mother was told quickly that the second child in her womb had died, and she would have had time to grieve that loss, at Mary's birth her mother was horribly overcome with grief, and she did not want to hold her living daughter while she was in such grief.

Because of the constant comments she heard later as a child, we know that Mary's mom often looked at her with regret that the other child, the son, had not survived. She grew up hearing her parents occasionally say, "if only your brother had lived..." It made Mary feel her mother would have loved him so much more.

She also heard them console themselves saying "Well he's up in heaven and so happy." It made Mary wish that she could have gone with him or instead of him because life seemed so hard, lonely and frightening to her as a child.

At church as she heard teaching about Heaven, Mary often struggled to understand why God took her brother and not her. Why was her brother happy and she miserable? Mary was too afraid of the answer, and too afraid of the consequences, to ever admit that she was very angry with God for leaving her behind to struggle with such a painful life.

No one else would tell her so, but Mary had shared in the sufferings of Christ, by living in the midst of such loss and grief, and by living with parents who held more affectionately to the child who had died, and supposedly to Jesus, than they had held to Mary.

We brought to the Cross Mary; who grew from the baby born in grief; who was always reminded that her brother was in heaven while she struggled in life alone; who had always been confused about why she was left behind and fearful that God had a definite reason; and who learned to always regret even being alive.

We brought to the Cross Mary's flesh that could not find peace through knowing that Jesus was her brother in heaven, and that He had made her just like Himself in God's eyes, and secured her eternity by dying for her.

We crucified the little girl who got so overwhelmed trying to be enough for her mother and dad, and the little girl that often wondered why her brother got off so easy.

We crucified the girl who had grieved so deeply every loss of a friend or family member who moved away or died, and crucified the little girl that wished she could talk to God and her brother, and have them reassure her that her life was not just a cruel joke, but that there was a good reason why she was left behind.

Mary crucified the little girl and the woman she'd become who dreamed of a man coming who could reassure her. A few people had told her that this dream was about Jesus. I disagreed and I struck a painful chord in Mary's heart when I suggested that the figure in the dream was her mind's conception of her grown brother.

In I explained that in her flesh the only resolution of the problem , that started when she was born alive and her brother was gone, would only be resolved to her satisfaction if her brother would eventually come to her after his many years with Jesus to reassure her that Jesus did love her, and He that Jesus would make it up to her for all the loneliness and pain she had suffered while she imagined her brother resting in paradise.

Our flesh does not truly want Jesus to be the answer for our conflicts. We want the situation that hurt us to be reversed and the pain thereby removed. Mary dreamed of a man who would be just like her, intimately in tune with her pain, apologetic for his delay in coming to her, and able to reassure her like no one else could. In her flesh, and in her dreams, this was her brother.

Once Mary crucified the baby who experienced such an early abandonment and being raised in such grief and wistfulness about her brother, Mary could begin to let Jesus replace the man in the dream , and . He could give her a love for Him and a love for her husband.

I shared with her that my mother had lost free of all the guilt and embarrassment from 7-9 pregnancies and that she had then died giving birth to me, and that I had struggled with the very same fears, and similar dreams all of my life past.

Mary stopped her weekly trips to the altar. Her husband was tremendously relieved. Freed from the burden of guilt and shame and imagined rejection by Jesus, Mary experienced peace for the first time in her life, and began to explore, at fifty five years old, what life could be like with mercy that is new every morning, grace that is sufficient every day, and faith that she would abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory with full assurance that she would rejoice to see Him face to face in the resurrection.

C/O Cross of Christ Ministries
4132 Annistown Road Snellville, Georgia 30039