Ten years and one day ago, I was an adulteress and a fornicator. Those were the correct terms according to the Bible. I had been in love with a man for nearly five years, who up until 6 months prior, was still married. And not only that, but I acted on my love for him. I lied to everyone I knew, including myself. I rebelled against Biblical teachings that I knew to be true. I moved in with him shortly after his divorce. And all the while, I yearned for forgiveness, grace, and a second chance.

On March 28, 2003, I was given one. The worship pastor of our then-church was given permission by the senior pastor (who didn’t feel he could do it himself), to perform a simple matrimonial ceremony in the church conference room. My parents were there, along with Rod’s children and two special friends who had “been there.” Our marriage was made holy in the eyes of the Lord that day, which is all that should matter.

Our adultery, our mistakes and failures, will never be “right.” They will never be justified. They have been forgiven… by God, by Rod’s first wife, by his children, and by many of the people hurt as a result. But that will never make those decisions and actions “Ok.” I don’t condone them, stand by them, or recommend them.  But somehow, nor do I regret our relationship.

How can I?~

theburtons_grace

There were many, many “believers” who extended grace to us right from the beginning. And there were many who only did after years. And there are some who still have not. And there are some who went to their graves without doing so. Ten years, two babies, and a whole lot of life and learning later, *I* am still learning to extend grace to those who did not have it for us. I have even had to smack myself down for not having IMMEDIATE grace for people who have gotten themselves into a situation similar to ours.

Good thing I don’t have to be God. His grace is without hesitation or condition. It is there because He loves us, and there every time we seek it. Please understand: I know I do not deserve the life I have. I do not deserve God’s grace. I do not deserve to have been embraced first by a community of ministers and then by the staff of a local church, getting mentored by pastors to become one myself. And though I did not wake up one day and decide, “I am going to love a married man with little kids and hopefully inspire him to move ahead with a divorce!,” the ugly things people called me were at one time very accurate labels. And yet…

There is no explanation why God has blessed a formerly adulterous couple with an amazing life and beautiful family and opportunities to minister to others, except that He loves us. He loves us as much as He loves the one who has never committed a sexual sin. He loves us as much as He loves the pastors and church leaders who have to make very difficult decisions when it comes to dealing with complicated relationships. He loves all of us who are still learning just how far His grace will go.

just as i amI have seen a lot of words thrown around lately about what grace is, what marriage is, who we should love, and what we should hate. I generally steer clear of the marriage debate, because God knows in conventional eyes, my marriage is not a traditional one. I know what the Bible says, and I have seen God move in miraculous ways, so it is my conviction to choose my words and my battles carefully. The fact is, we don’t, won’t, cannot know exactly how God’s grace works. In my adult life, since ‘getting right with God,’ I have fancied myself a bit of a Grace Hippie, and yet, I am learning things now (from my pastor, with my pastor & my church), that are blowing my mind about God’s grace… as my friend Kenny has said, His grace is crazy! That isn’t a liberal or new age notion; it’s older than the songs in our hymnals, if we still have those! That is God’s love stripped down and set free from the interference of religion, the misinterpretations of the misguided, and the agendas of the self-righteous. That is God’s love saying that not just the fallen and publicly redeemed Davids and Sarahs and Pauls will be with us in Heaven, but maybe the Delilah, the Lot’s Wife, the Judas – those hopelessly weak, distracted, sick, and used – will be as well.

God created us, He knows our flaws, and He sees our souls. If we struggle and fall, if we are confused and make a mistake, and if we are ignorant and think we *are* living the right way, I believe He is merciful! Furthermore, if it turns out that God’s grace is BIGGER & BETTER than what we have all been taught all our lives, and because of that more people will be in Heaven…isn’t that a GOOD thing?

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4

I know the Bible also says we must reach out to Christ in faith and turn from sin. Along with that, it tells me to grow in grace…to administer grace to others… to set my hopes on grace. We are not all equipped exactly in the same way and at the same time to do those things. Of course, we need a Savior, whose grace, another old song tells us, is greater than all our sin.

I do not have all the answers. I do simply pray that everything in my life, my words, my relationships, and my marriage, point people to the love of Jesus. HIS LOVE empowers us to overcome any sin, obstacle, and failure.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18

Comments

comments

  • Diane Bishop

    I love you so much. Greg’s wife had left him before I met him but I’ll admit I was “with him” (in the biblical sense) before his divorce was finalized and for quite some time before we were married.
    I was a proud and stubborn woman and refused to think beyond my wants and needs.

    Even though the Bible would suggest that being married to a divorced man is wrong, I cant’ believe that my marriage and relationship to Greg isn’t blessed by God. It’s certainly because of His blessings that we’ve made it this far.

    I guess this is why I look at the marriage debate with different eyes. I know there are Christians who believe that Greg should never have married me. I believe they are wrong. I believe God sees love where it is and blesses it and makes it holy.
    Happy Anniversary to you, my dear. What an adventure you’ve had. May you have so many more.

    (We sang “Just As I Am” in church tonight. Always makes me cry.)

    • kellyburton

      I don’t know how I missed this. Thank you, dear sister from afar, for your constant friendship to me, for sharing your heart, for getting it. Your beautiful family and devotion to Greg is such a testimony. Here’s to adventures…and ‘different eyes!’