"I don’t want my eyes dilated," I told the optometrist. "My daughter and I plan to shop this afternoon, and I want to see what I’m buying. Can’t we just do it next time?"

"OK," she agreed, shining a pen light into each eye. "But without it, looking inside your eye is like trying to see a room through a keyhole. Dilating is like looking through a picture window."

As with the eye doctor, the quality of our view determines our ability to make right choices. We try to guess where a situation is headed based on the visible facts. Then we make decisions that can affect the rest of our lives and those of the people we love. Considering how limited our view is, that’s a little scary.

Impossible situation

"I just can’t see him ever changing," I told my pastor in his office.

One year into my Christian life, I wondered how I could stay married to an alcoholic. While God taught me to walk in the light of His love, my husband chose to stay in darkness.

Part of me wanted the pastor to confirm the hopeless state of my marriage. Instead, he brought up an angle I hadn’t considered: "I know that if my wife had gotten saved first, I would’ve wanted her to wait for me." Then he asked a heart-piercing question. "How long did Jesus have to wait for you?"

Trusting God with your unbelieving spouse

His hopeful words brought to mind the ones I had read on my sister’s fridge earlier that week: "Don’t give up just before the miracle." I decided to adopt that as my marriage manifesto. I carried those words through the years while Scripture carried me. "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).

"He will never change," others said.

"I’m not giving up just before the miracle," I answered like a recording.

But some nights my weary mind questioned the possibility of that miracle. At those times, I crawled back to God, who knew when and if my husband would accept the Lord. Each time, I exchanged my doubts for strength to believe.

God’s picture window

Nothing that concerns our hearts escapes God’s sight. He knows what we’ve been through, the challenges of today and every detail about tomorrow. While we anxiously peek through a keyhole, God sees the whole picture and offers to navigate the blind spots for us. He wants us to hand Him the difficult things: an unsaved loved one, illness, excessive debt, an estranged friend.

Nearly eight years after I accepted Jesus, my husband raised his hand in church and did the same. That afternoon, Ray was baptized at the annual picnic and baptism.

What’s happened since that miraculous day? Ray and I spent a year in Bible school. Then he travelled to Honduras on a short-term missions trip. He has taught Sunday school classes and Bible studies and ministered in prisons. He’s listened to tons of teaching tapes and read dozens of books. Now he’s an ordained pastor.

Stay for the miracle

Twenty-one years ago, I wanted my pastor’s approval to leave my husband. I didn’t have the slightest inkling my husband would one day pastor a church. I had no idea we’d begin each morning with our Bibles and coffee, reading and sharing. Back then, I saw only the moment: my new life with Jesus and Ray’s rejection of it.

The next time circumstances look impossible, remember: We may be viewing the situation through a keyhole. Thankfully, God sees every detail and acts on behalf of those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4). For all we know, He’s putting together a miracle on the other side of our next prayer. And who wants to give up just before the miracle?

Kathleen Wilcox lived with her family on the Oregon coast at the time of publication.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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