Author Clare Luther found Jesus four years after she started dating her now-husband, but he remained a non-Christian. The difference in their faith and their priorities meant their relationship became strained, until one day when everything changed.
My husband, Tim, and I met when we were fifteen years old on a summer holiday in north Cornwall. After a magical week of friendship, he returned to his family saying to he’d met the girl he hoped he’d marry (which I only found out a few years later). We kept in touch and finally became boyfriend and girlfriend as we turned twenty. We were both non-Christians.
One day at work, as a 23-year-old newly qualified Occupational Therapist, I was caring for an elderly lady who prompted two burning questions that needed to be answered. Firstly, is heaven real? And second, who is Jesus? Over several months my heart began to be transformed as I explored the Christian faith and I could not go back to unknowing what had been revealed by the Holy Spirit – God is creator of all, Jesus is God, God’s grace, Jesus’s forgiveness and saving love, and a new wholehearted hope in God’s promise of a forever life through Christ. Life now had a different lens. Roughly a year on Tim courageously asked one afternoon in his rental kitchen, “Do you love Jesus more than me?”. I paused, answered, “Yes,” and he wept.
“Do you love Jesus more than me?”. I paused, answered, “Yes,” and he wept.
Tim and I messily wandered through the next four years. I brought our physical side of the relationship to an abrupt end and I no longer talked of moving in together, but I did not have the strength or wisdom as a new Christian to know what else to do. I loved Tim dearly and we had so much history, so I ended up dipping in and out of churches and joined a local weekly life group to get spiritually fed. No-one, at any point, challenged my relationship with Tim.
We got married in 2003 and were quickly blessed with two daughters. In the busyness of a new marriage with two young children Jesus’s moral compass, his teaching, his compassion, his patience, and his sacrificial love were becoming more and more vibrant, personal and beautiful. Jesus’ wonderful life-giving light was bringing me such joy, but it was also exposing a difficult darkness within our marriage. Tim and I were not a team. We didn’t share the same values or morals and painfully it started to matter that he didn’t know Jesus; the team was a team of three - our two daughters and I. To the outside world we appeared happy and just like “everyone else”, but my heart wept with a deep loneliness, a sense of marital disappointment and an overwhelming feeling that I was of little worth to Tim. He behaved as single man and, without choice, it fell on my shoulders to be the constant as he continued to do as he pleased with his work hours and booze fuelled social life.
Jesus’ teaching, his compassion, his patience, and his sacrificial love were becoming more and more vibrant, personal and beautiful.
In 2011, I was becoming fiercely independent and recognising my own brokenness and imperfections, I surrendered my entire self to Christ. My ego, my role as a wife, my role as a mother, my career, my wants and desires. I pleaded with Christ to grow me, to radically grow me. To make me more like him, to give me a servant heart that allowed me to persevere in the marriage that God had ordained, to give me power to flee temptation, and for him to boldly bring Tim to faith. The verse: “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” (Peter 3:1-2) was instrumental in stopping me from walking out as God showed me, in his word, that I was known. I repented for marrying a non-Christian and Jesus began to strengthen and sustain me in ways I could never have believed possible.
In 2021, after 10 years of praying – praying alone, praying with our children (now 18 and 16 years old) and praying with anyone and everyone who would ask what I’d like prayer for – Tim came to faith. He stood in front our of church family, and his own immediate family of non-believers, to openly profess Christ as his Master, Lord and Saviour. In this new season, our marriage is richer than it’s ever been and slowly we are loving each other anew, with God at the centre. This is only my side of the story, but with all my heart, thank you Jesus!