Changed Wife, Changed Life
The prospect of rejecting Jesus Christ impacts a husband for eternity.
by Jack Matthews as told to Muriel Larson
What had happened to my wife? I couldn’t understand Betty. She had completely changed. She seemed to have new values and a new purpose in life — and new friends, all religious fanatics, in whose presence I felt uncomfortable.
“You act as though you love Jesus Christ more than you love me,” I told Betty one day.
“I do,” she answered.
Betty had become a fanatic, too! I had only myself to blame, though. I had hired this bright-looking young man to help me in my real estate business. Though I had heard that his wife was a nut on religion, I invited the couple to dinner.
Sure enough, after dinner she steered the conversation to religious matters. I had studied the Bible in college, but this woman used words that annoyed me, such as born again and saved.
I didn’t pay much attention to what the woman said, but Betty did. After that Betty started reading our family Bible. Then a big change took place in her a peace and joy. She and her new friends had something I didn’t have, and it puzzled and annoyed me.
Since the husband of one of Betty’s friends was a building contractor, I thought, This man might be a good business connection. So I suggested Betty invite the Scotts to our home. She happily agreed.
I was stunned when Miles Scott walked in the door. I’d always thought a pushover for religion would be a sissy, but Miles looked like a body builder. When he shook my hand, I winced. Later, when we were alone, Miles told me he had been praying for me.
“What on earth for?” I asked. “I’m in perfect health. At 34 I have all any man could want. Just look around.”
“Jack, you’ve got me wrong,” Miles answered. “I’m praying that God will save your soul. Just how do you think you’re going to live for eternity?”
“Oh, I reckon God will weigh the good things against the bad, and I’ll probably make it. I try to keep the Ten Commandments. I go to church. I try to be honest in business and to be a good husband and father.”
“Well, Jack,” Miles said, “God doesn’t grade on the curve; 75 percent isn’t passing in God’s school. Jesus said, ‘Be perfect.’ That’s 100 percent. The only person who can save you is Jesus Christ.”
“What will happen to me if I don’t believe the way you’re telling me?”
“You’ll be lost forever,” Miles replied.
For nearly a year Miles’ words gnawed at me, and Betty talked to me about Christ whenever she had the opportunity. I became a difficult husband to handle because I didn’t like all this religious business. But Betty was unusually sweet and considerate of me.
She mowed our acre of grass and vacuumed our swimming pool just so I’d have more free time. Not only that, she kept both our cars washed and polished and my shoes shined.
What’s going on here? I wondered. She must have an ulterior motive!
In view of her sweetness and consideration, I couldn’t keep her from going to church every time the doors were opened, which seemed to be her dearest desire. Still, her seeming fanaticism made me uncomfortable. I loved Betty and our four children, but we simply couldn’t go on this way.
On our eleventh anniversary I took Betty out to dinner. “Now, Betty,” I said across the table, “I hate to tell you this, but I’m going to have to ask you for a divorce unless you get back to the way you used to be.”
She looked as if I had slapped her. “I love you, Jack,” she said in a choked voice, “but you don’t understand. I’ve been born into God’s family, and I can’t be unborn! Honey, I’m going to keep praying that God will save you and change your heart as He has mine and that ours will be a truly Christian home.”
I found I couldn’t leave Betty, but the strained feeling between us continued. Often I would find her early in the morning on her knees praying for me. Though this made an impression on me, still I gave her a rough time.
Then one morning in December I answered my office phone and was told, “Miles Scott was just killed in a car accident.” The news of the tragedy really shook me. I couldn’t concentrate on anything the rest of the day.
Several days later, I arranged to meet Betty at the funeral home to view Miles’ body. I arrived ahead of her. As I looked around at Miles’ friends talking, I was surprised to see that they didn’t seem to be as deeply affected by Miles’ death as I was.
What is it? I wondered. What do these people have that I don’t?
I heard one man say, “Isn’t it a wonderful thing to know that Miles will live with Jesus Christ forever!”
Just then Betty walked in, and we went to look at the body. There was his widow. Surely I’ll see sorrow now, I thought. But she came up to us with a smile and a peaceful look on her face. What is it? I marveled. What is it?
Miles’ widow reached down into her handbag and pulled out a little folder with a tombstone on it. It was entitled Are You Ready?
“Betty,” she said, “maybe you know someone who is not ready to meet God. Would you like to give him this tract? It might help him get ready.”
I reached out my hand. “Give me that,” I said. “I want to get ready!”
I turned to view her husband’s lifeless body and thought, If I had been killed instead of him, where would I end up?
“Let’s get out of here,” I whispered to Betty.
We drove our respective cars. Two blocks from the funeral home I cried out, “God, I want You to save me. I know I’m not ready to die or to live with You in eternity. Forgive me for all my stubbornness, all my sin, and come into my heart, please!”
God heard me.
The minute I got home I leaped out of my car, ran back to Betty’s, and opened her door. “Honey,” I cried, “will you please come in and pray with me?”
Joy filled her face. For the first time in our married life we knelt together and prayed. I thanked God for forgiving me for my actions and attitudes. I also prayed He would make ours a truly Christian home. We had a wonderful prayer meeting!
The next morning I realized a peace I had never before known. It seemed as if a big load had been lifted from my shoulders. Later that day we attended Miles’ funeral service. When the preacher spoke about what it meant to be saved, the Bible made sense to me for the first time.
And I knew — I knew! Jesus Christ had made the difference in my wife and her friends. That’s why they lived the way they did: Christ was in them. And now He was in me.