Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20
Fifteen years of selfish, addictive behavior takes its toll on a marriage. Yes, I contributed to and invested good things into my relationship with my wife, but that was all undone by the lying and hiding of my drug addiction. I wanted to get clean, yet I remained unwilling to do what it took to truly live in recovery and so, I just kept relapsing. My last relapse, six years ago, led to the loss of my job, public embarrassment, inpatient treatment and nearly the end of my marriage.
At that point, for her own protection, my wife was ready to be done. No one would have blamed her if she’d thrown me out. I wouldn’t have. When I used I knew I could lose everything and yet, I did it anyway. At that point, I realized that divorce was an appropriate boundary.
My wife didn’t bail on the marriage though, and I actually threw myself into recovery. I’d say it took 1-2 years of me daily working on radical transformation to convince her that it was real. She’d seen the cycle of destruction repeat itself so many times that it took a long time of very different behavior to make her believe. She gave me yet one more chance though. She forgave. She showed me grace when I didn’t deserve it.
I’d like to say that I’ve been the perfect husband since, but using drugs wasn’t my only selfish behavior. I continue to work daily on abandoning the old life to pursue the new one though, and we’ve learned to show continuing grace to each other. Now, it’s safe to say that we both love and truly like each other. We should’ve been over six years ago, but because of the grace my wife chose, we’ve survived, rebuilding a far better marriage than we ever had before.
In today’s passage, Paul says this is what grace does. Grace overcomes the death that we create in our sin. Though we choose misery and destruction in pursuing our own way, we can, if we choose, turn to the saving grace of God, finding life, joy, and peace. Accepting God’s grace doesn’t change the past, but in Christ, we can find blessed new life and transformation, despite the misery we’ve made. That is saving grace.