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A Prudent Wife is from the Lord
It’s been announced that I’m going to speak today on the theme of marriage. Actually, I believe that I could give it a more precise title which is taken directly from the book of Proverbs which says “a prudent wife is from the Lord.” In my outline I’ve written a little comment in parenthesis, I’ve proved it twice.
Basically, tonight I want to speak to you from personal experience. I trust that what I have to say will be helpful to you in dealing with one of life’s most important issues. Probably the most important personal choice that any man or woman makes during his lifetime is the choice of a life partner. I’d like to begin by establishing some scriptural principles and then I’m going to show you how they worked out in my own experience over many years. Then, this time next week, the Lord willing, I’ll be back and I will try to give further practical teaching on how you can apply those principles in your life.
Primarily tonight I want to establish the importance of marriage. It’s been borne in on me that marriage is much more important in the sight of God and by the revelation of scripture than most of us have any idea. I mean, most of us. I’m not talking about unbelievers or unconverted persons but I’m talking about those of us who are here tonight and people like us who know the Lord, who are baptized in the Holy Spirit, who seek to walk in the Lord’s ways. I have become convinced through the Lord’s dealings with me in recent months that we have a totally inadequate concept of the importance of marriage and the value that God places upon it.
One of the things that awakened me to this was my own second marriage ceremony which, as many of you know, was conducted here in Fort Lauderdale on the 17th of October last year. Brother Charles Simpson brought a short but extremely penetrating message. He was the minister performing the ceremony. As I meditated on what Charles said it began to grow in my heart and produce a new understanding. Charles pointed out that human history begins with a marriage. The revelation of scripture begins with a marriage. The great climax of human history which God has foreordained is once again a marriage, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Jesus performed his first miracle at a marriage and that all through scripture continually the theme of marriage returns.
I suppose some of us from religious backgrounds somehow have formed a kind of idea that marriage is a kind of unfortunate necessity because we are sexual beings but that probably it would be better if we didn’t say too much about it and, it’s unfortunate it has to be done in church. Generally speaking, we’ve almost had a negative attitude about the marriage relationship and all that it includes.
It interested me recently that I discovered that the rabbis in commenting on the Old Testament called the Song of Solomon the holy of holies. They consider it, in some sense, the holiest book in the Bible. Yet, frankly it’s a picture of a very passionate love relationship between a man and a woman.
I remember also a quotation from ?La Marahsall?, the daughter of William Booth who pioneered the Salvation Army in France many years back at the beginning of this century. She said this. “Christ loves us passionately and he wants to be loved passionately.” I don’t believe we can ever speak of New Testament Christianity in any form without passion. When we reduce it just to doctrine and belief and church order we’ve missed out one vital element without which Christians can never be what God intends.
Now, there is a passionate love of the Lord. I’m not going to be speaking about that but in my own experience I would have to say as I look back it’s my love for my first wife and my second wife that has given me the deepest insight into the kind of relationship that the Lord wants with me and I ought to have with him.
Now let me give you some scriptures. Proverbs 18:22.
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.”
I say amen to that twice! You’ll notice it suggests there’s a special favor of the Lord on a man’s life that will enable him to find the right wife. I believe that. Furthermore, I believe that I’ve been the recipient of the Lord’s favor. I want to express tonight before you all my deep appreciation to the Lord. I surely didn’t deserve it.
Then, in Proverbs 19:14.
“House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
Again, it’s very clear that one of the greatest blessings the Lord can bestow on any man who loves him and serves him is a prudent wife. I checked with some of the modern translations and they retain the word prudent. I would have to say that if I were to take one word that describes each of the wives that the Lord has given me I could not choose a better word than prudent. So, again I have to bow before the Lord in humble gratitude.
Now, I’d like to turn to the New Testament to Matthew 19 and look at a conversation between some Pharisees and Jesus on the subject of marriage. My purpose in turning to this passage is to use it to illustrate that Jesus had a specific standard for marriage from which he would not depart. Matthew 19, beginning in verse 3.
“The Pharisees also came unto him [that’s Jesus], tempting [or testing] him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put his away his wife for every cause?”
At that time in Judaism there was a school of rabbinic teaching that said yes. I don’t know how many of you saw “Fiddler on the Roof” but you may or may not have picked out when the rabbi there was teaching his young students he was saying, amongst other things, if your wife burns a cake she cooks, that’s grounds for divorce. I don’t know whether you picked it up. It’s there in the movie. That is in line with that rabbinical school of teaching.
Let’s look at Jesus’ answer.
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain [the two of them] shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain [or two], but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
You find the same scripture in Mark 10:9 I believe. My first wife and I had that scripture engraved on the inner side of our wedding bands. “What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” The reason why I read that passage is not to go into details but to point out to you that Jesus absolutely refused to accept the standard of marriage current in his day. There was only one standard that he would accept and that was the standard set by God the Father at creation. Every time he deals with the subject of marriage he goes back to the beginning.
You need to know that the Hebrew title of the book of Genesis is “in the beginning.” ?Bear a sheet? It’s the opening words of the book. Every time you read “the beginning” in the New Testament really what the writer is saying is I’m referring to the book of Genesis. So, when Jesus was questioned about marriage, the standard that he went back to was the standard that God originally set for marriage.
I want to point out to you that marriage was totally initiated by God. Man never thought it up. It was something God designed and God revealed and God established. You will find that wherever humanism or false religion gain control of man’s thinking the standard of marriage will be lowered. It takes divine revelation to keep us to the standard that God set for marriage. If we do not live in the light of that revelation we will fall below the standard that God has set and it will be to our own loss.
God attached much greater importance to marriage than most Christians do today. You understand, I’m not talking to the unbelievers. If there are unbelievers here or unbelievers who hear this when it’s recorded on tape, that’s all right. But, my conviction has become this: the majority of Christians really don’t have any grasp on how important marriage is in the sight of God. I say this now particularly to those who are not married and I’m going to speak much more specifically about this next week. Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Don’t make yourself cheap. If you’re a child of God, God has got something special for you.
I look back with the deepest regret on the lives of many young women who I’ve known who settled for less than God’s best. God still loves them, God will still do his best for them but it’s almost like being on a freeway and taking the wrong exit. It’s very hard to get back again. That’s equally true for a young man. I’m talking about something serious.
If we go back to God’s standard for marriage at the beginning I believe we discover four facts. In the book The Marriage Covenantwhich I wrote in 10 days just before I got married and finished it 48 hours before the wedding ceremony—which was not, you know, I wouldn’t recommend it to the normal procedure for somebody about to get married. I wrote about God’s standard of marriage and as I wrote the words I thought there’s a lot more to that than I’m seeing right now but I don’t have time to go into it because this book has got to be finished. I’m going to pick out the four statements in that book and repeat them. I might slightly change the wording.
First of all, it was God who decided that Adam was to have a wife. The decision was made solely by God. It wasn’t something Adam asked for, it wasn’t something Adam understood. I want to tell you this, I don’t believe any man understands what marriage is like before he gets married. You can have all the counseling in the world but it’s different from what you think.
Fact number two, it was God who formed Eve for Adam.
Fact number three, it was God who brought Eve to Adam.
Fact number four, it was God who determined the nature and purpose of their relationship.
I’ll just read those briefly again because I want you to have them in your mind. First, it was God who decided Adam was to have a wife. Second, it was God who formed Eve for Adam. Third, it was God who brought Eve to Adam. Fourth, it was God who determined the nature and purpose of their relationship.
I believe those are eternal principles. This is the conclusion I’ve been working toward. I believe that in the marriage of God’s believing children every one of those principles should always apply. I believe God should make the decision that a man needs a wife. I believe God should form the woman that he’s appointed for the man. I believe God should bring the woman to the man and I believe that God has to determine the purpose and nature of their relationship. If we live on a lower level we’re living below the level of God’s best. I want to emphasize God will always do his best for his children in any situation and circumstance. But, there is such a thing as the highest level of the will of God and there are lower levels.
As I was meditating and preparing to bring this message this evening I was reminded of a revelation that was given to a brother named Jimmy Moore when I was ministering together with him in Ruston, Louisiana, probably 14 years ago. Maybe 15. Brother Jimmy Moore was an ordained Southern Baptist minister and he’s got a very rich and fruitful ministry today. Interestingly enough, his main emphasis is teaching on marriage and the home and the family. He’s one of the outstanding teachers on that theme that I know of today.
Now, I don’t want you to get side-tracked into this revelation but I’m giving it for a purpose. The Lord showed Jimmy that there were six specific major cities of the United States and a specific operation of Satan related to each one of those cities. I’m going to just briefly outline them without going into details and then I’m going to point out something that I never saw till today. These are the six cities and the way that Satan is specifically at work in each city. Remember, this was given probably 15 years ago. Whatever was true then, in most cases, is truer today.
The first city was Reno, Nevada. The operation of Satan was the breakdown of the American home and family. You need to bear in mind that Reno was the first city in this nation that granted quick divorce. It was the first place you could get divorced in a few hours.
The second was Hollywood, California. The operation of Satan was licentiousness and perversion. That is probably multiplied 10 times in 15 years.
The third city was New Orleans, Louisiana. The operation was witchcraft. We just need to remind ourselves that the entire Mardi Gras ceremony is just unadulterated witchcraft, that’s all it is. Interestingly, one in every 200 persons in the United States is in New Orleans every year for that ceremony.
The fourth city was Chicago, Illinois. The operation was viciousness and violence. Chicago is particularly noted in American history for gang warfare.
The fifth was Boston, Massachusetts. The operation was false religion. Boston is the home of Christian Science, amongst other things.
The sixth was interesting for us in South Florida. It was Miami, Florida. The operation was political confusion. In l972 both the major political parties held their conventions in Miami. In the next 4 years, without any question, America experienced a level of political confusion absolutely without precedent in its history. The resignation first of the vice president and then of the president of the United States. It’s not unconnected with the influences at work in Miami, Florida.
Now, the only reason I list that now is this. As I was meditating, the Lord brought that back to me and he said, “Go back and see what opened the door for all those evil forces.” I went back to number one, it was the breakdown of the American home and family. God showed me that if that had not happened the other forces could never have gained the momentum that they’ve gained since that. In other words, the bulwark and protection of any society, any culture, any church is the home. The sanctity and the strength of the home is destroyed once we lower God’s standard of marriage. It’s God’s standard of marriage that is the protection of all the rest.
Let me say one other thing about marriage before I turn to my personal testimony. Ephesians 5, just three verses near the end of the chapter. Paul is speaking about the relationship between husband and wife but he’s using it to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church. He says this in Ephesians 5:31.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery [or this mystery is great]: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
So, marriage is a great mystery. One of the most important features of it is that it depicts the relationship of Christ to the church. My conviction now is this: if we do not appreciate the nature of marriage we cannot fully understand our relationship to Christ. The two are intertwined.
Now, I’m going to illustrate what I have to say from personal experience. I’ve jotted down an outline to try to keep within reasonable limits of time. I want to say, first of all, that I’m not interested in attracting attention to myself. I don’t want to become the focus of this but I want to use the dealings of God with me as an endorsement of the truths that I’ve been trying to bring to you. I’d have to say that God dealt with me in my ignorance. Only after the dealings of God did I begin to see that in actual fact the way God had dealt with me was pure scripture. I thought in some ways that God had dealt with me in a rather strange way, that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen to many people. In a way I was rather reticent to tell people about it. But, just lately in the last few months God has opened my eyes to see that the way he dealt with me is in full accord with all these principles. Not that I wish to leave you with the impression that God will deal with you in the same way but I do believe that God will deal with you on the basis of the same principles. It’s not the individual method of God but it’s the principles that I want to emphasize.
By the age of 20 I was a skeptic, an agnostic, in rebellion against the church and Christianity. Never an atheist, I couldn’t be that. It seemed to me so illogical. I became a professional philosopher and was very successful in that career, became a professor of philosophy at Cambridge University. I was in philosophy because I was looking for the truth. I’d had a conviction from before my teens that there must be something somewhere that gave meaning to life. I was disappointed in Christianity as I’d seen it, that it didn’t seem to have the answer. I turned to philosophy, I turned to Oriental cults, I became a practicing Yogi—many things. But, I didn’t find the answer there.
Then, in the early years of World War II in a barrack room of the British Army when I was serving as a non combatant soldier, a hospital attendant, one night Jesus Christ revealed himself very definitely and personally to me. That was in July 1941. From that day to this there are two things I have never been able to doubt. First, that Jesus Christ is alive. Second, that the Bible is a true book. I didn’t know much about the Bible but I determined that it was the book with the answers and from then on I was going to find out the answers from the Bible.
Almost immediately God called me—only I didn’t know what it was to be called because I didn’t have any religious language. But, God put in my mind one word. It was the word Palestine. You have to understand that there had been significant geographical changes in the last 30 years or so and the country that we now know as Israel at that time was part of the country known as Palestine which was comprised of Jordan and Israel and was administered by the British government under a mandate from the League of Nations. I said to the people with whom I was fellowshiping, “It’s funny but everywhere I go I have the word Palestine in my mind.” They said to me in their religious jargon, “Derek, God is calling you to Palestine.” I thought that’s interesting. I wonder what it means.
Soldiers in the army don’t choose their destiny. Within a few weeks of my coming to know the Lord my company was sent overseas. We went to North Africa and I spent 2 years in Egypt and Libya, the third year in the Sudan and believe me, I know what it is to live in a desert. I understand in some ways why God took so many of his people in one way or another through the desert. The desert strips you down to life’s essentials. You’ve got no room or time for luxuries or non essentials. Survival is your main objective.
In the desert I had no opportunity to go to church or listen to preachers. I had to read the Bible for myself. I read it through several times and I found the Holy Spirit really showed me, in essence, the meaning of what I was reading.
Then the army transferred me to Palestine. Eventually I spent the last year of my military service in a British hospital on the Mount of Olives. For those of you that know the Mount of Olives it’s now the—it was always the Augusta Memorial Building, it’s now a Lutheran leper hospital. If I had chosen one place on the entire surface of the globe that I wanted to be, that would have been it. So, after you’ve patiently endured you receive the promise. God tested me through three and a half years and then he put me in the place he called me to be. “Faithful is he that called you who also will do it.” Let me leave that with you. If God calls you he’ll do it. Bear that in mind.
Before I moved up to Jerusalem I was in a place called ?Kireat Motskin? which is just outside Haifa in a big medical store where they were storing medical supplies to send into Europe as soon as the way was open through military victory. I worked with the ?Suto? soldiers from southern Africa. All we had to do was just keep the bales of medical supplies in line. It wasn’t a very exacting task, it didn’t require executive ability but it suited me down to the ground because it gave me a lot of time to read my Bible and pray. As I walked up and down between these rows of medical supplies that were much higher than I was I could kind of get lost and shut off and shut in with God. In that situation God spoke to me twice.
It doesn’t suit everybody’s theological theories but one of the ways God has frequently spoken to me is to give me an utterance in a tongue and the give me the interpretation. Many times the interpretation is actually God talking to me. I would say this has happened at least 100 times in my Christian experience. The words are nearly always extremely precise and I’ve discovered that God is very exact, down to the last little particle or whatever it may be. I cannot look back and think of any single such word from God that has not been accurately worked out in my life.
As I look back now on that phase in my life when I was a member of the British Army living amongst ungodly, blaspheming, carnal men, I cannot express how beautiful it was to have this lifeline of direct communication with the Lord. I remember one time when we were in the North African desert all the trucks would be parked in a big circle because of possible bombing raids by the enemy. So, a bomb could never hit more than one truck at a time. The cook’s wagon would always be parked in the middle and there is where we would go pick up our food in metal cans. I remember once setting out from my truck to the cook’s wagon and in that short journey the Lord spoke to me most intimately and directly. I just hope you can appreciate what it means in a situation like that to have direct communion with the Lord that no one can cut off and no one can interfere with and completely changes the atmosphere in which you live. You’re living in a different world from all the people round about you.
Now, on two occasions when I was in that medical supply store in ?Kireat Motskin? the Lord spoke to me absolutely clearly and specifically. I’m going to quote to you exactly what he said. The first time it was my specific calling to ministry. He said—and I don’t know why but the Lord spoke to me in King James English. I’d been a student of Elizabethan English, I love it and it has no problems for me. In fact, it’s particularly vivid. Maybe that’s why the Lord goes on that way. I realize he doesn’t speak to everybody that way. He said, “I have called thee to be a teacher of the scriptures in truth, and faith, and love which are in Christ Jesus for many.” That would be 35 years ago. I simply can say tonight “Faithful is he that called you who also will do it.” I do not say it to boast of myself but in the Lord. It would not be possible to count the thousands and thousands of persons all over the world to whom I’ve ministered the teaching of the word of God. God was gracious enough to let me come into the ministry at a time when the tape recorder was about to be invented and it is not possible by any means to estimate all the people and the places that my teaching has come. Ruth has been with me a little while and she will bear me witness. We never go anywhere without somebody I’ve never met coming up and saying, “Brother Prince, your tapes have made all the difference in my Christian experience. When I had no other source of teaching they kept me going.”
I was standing in a line to get a ticket at an airplane counter once and I spoke and a lady in front of me turned around and said, “I know that voice. I’ve heard you on tape.” I only say that to glorify the Lord because the word he gave me has been proved true. Now again I’m on nationwide radio ministry and I believe that’s a further outworking of that calling. Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it. If I leave nothing else with you tonight remember that.
I’ve often said if I had one message to leave to posterity, if I pass on before the Lord comes I could say it in three words. God is faithful. Whenever I say that tears come to my eyes. I don’t cry for grief. The thing that brings tears to my eyes is the faithfulness of God.
The second time God spoke to me I was praying for a Danish lady named Lydia Christenson who had a little children’s home in a place named ?Ramallah? just north of Jerusalem. She was much older than I was, I’d visited the home once and been tremendously blessed in my spirit. I saw that she lived on a very, shall I say—I don’t want to use the word meager but she certainly didn’t have anything to spare of clothing, money or anything else. I never believe Lydia lived in a meager way because she always lived like a rich woman even when she was desperately poor. So, the word meager doesn’t apply.
I thought that’s a beautiful work and I’m going to pray for her. So, one day when I was walking up and down between these lines of medical supplies I thought I’ll pray for that Danish lady. I started to pray and the Spirit of the Lord came on me and I spoke very powerfully in tongues. I knew God was trying to tell me something, I waited there and there came these words. “I have joined you together under the same yoke and in the same harness, the message of blessing and the hand of power.” I thought it looks as though we’re going to work together. I was honestly so naive, that’s all I thought. The next time I went to Jerusalem I took the bus out to Ramallah, number 18 bus, and I introduced myself again to Lydia and I said, “You know, I think the Lord wants us to work together.” It was a crazy thing to say if you think about it. So, her answer was most characteristic. Those of you who remember her, she said, “Well, you’ll have to work on both ends of the chain.” It wasn’t exactly a warm reception.
There are many of you here, the first time you met Lydia you got a similar kind of response. I remember Brother Eric Kreager saying, “I waited 2 years to meet Lydia and the first time I did she bawled me out!”
Then let me tell you something else that happened. I knew the Lord had called me to Palestine, I knew he wanted me in Jerusalem and there were three Pentecostal missions in or around Jerusalem. One was the little children’s home, one was American Assemblies of God, one was American Independent. There was another soldier with me at that time in the hospital who had a beautiful gift of prophecy. One day I went to him and I said, “Frank, I know the Lord wants me to be released from the army in this country, I know he wants me to work here, I can’t see working on my own. I think I ought to get joined to one of these Pentecostal missions. Would you help me and pray that I’ll make the right choice?” Well, Frank was very close with one of the Pentecostal missions and he had no doubt whatever that that’s the one I should work with. But, he dutifully prayed for all three and last of all he came to this little children’s home which was the most unlikely place for me to be associated with. As he started to pray he said this, “Lord, you know you’ve shown me that that home will be like a little stream. The stream will become a river. The river will become a great river. The great river will become a sea and the sea will become a mighty ocean.” When we got up from praying I said, “Thank you, brother. I know what to do.” Do you know how I knew? Because the first time the Lord every spoke to me by tongues and interpretation, that was what he said to me. It shall be like a little stream. The stream shall become a river. The river shall become a great river. The great river shall become a sea. The sea shall become a mighty ocean. Could you believe that God had spoken that to that young soldier to me about my life and ministry and given him exactly the same words detail for detail, comma for comma that he’d given me. So, he never knew how I knew. I never told him.
Then, Lydia and I got married and I have to say this, if I were any sane marriage counselor and I had come to me for counsel, I would have turned thumbs down on that marriage. There was no way it could work. Lydia was from a different culture, she was Danish. She was much older than I was, she was a very strong character, she’d established her own mission work, and she had eight girls, the oldest of whom at that time was about 17, that went along with her. So, anyone that married her got eight girls for free! I mean, there was just no way such a marriage could work. But, we got married.
We got married because it was the will of God. After we were married I remembered what the Lord had spoken to me and I remembered that he said “I joined you together under the same yoke and in the same harness.” I knew enough scripture then to know that the yoke was marriage and the harness was working together in the Lord’s service. We were married in l946. Lydia died just less than 30 years later. For 30 years we were under the same yoke and in the same harness.
Many of you here knew us both. We had our problems. Lydia was not always an easy person to live with—nor was I. But, it worked. One of the things that people would say to us is, “When you two minister together you’re just like one person.” See? What’s the purpose of marriage? The two shall become one.
I think the other great source of our strength was our unity in prayer. Most days we began and ended the day by praying together. Many, many times God also spoke to us. Normally, Lydia would get the tongue, I would get the interpretation. Looking back I cannot recall a single instance in which it did not work out the way God said it would. One of the things that’s so real to me is the power of two agreeing in prayer. Jesus said if two of you shall agree you can ask what you will, it will be done for you. There were times when Lydia and I touched God in harmony and I knew whatever we asked for would be done. We met opposition—sometimes from fellow Christians. You know, honestly, I felt sorry for them because I just knew they couldn’t stand up against the power of our prayer. And no one ever did. I don’t say that boastfully but it’s an actual fact.
Well, let me say something else. God said he would give us the message of blessing and the hand of power. Lydia always had a special power in praying for the sick and those who needed deliverance long before we really came into the ministry of deliverance. But, when we were in Minneapolis in l963 one day the Lord placed the gift of healing in Lydia’s hand. There was a very specific transaction that took place. After that she prayed for scores and scores of people who were instantly healed when that gift came into operation. One of the strange things that happened was she would get a kind of explosion when the gift came. I mean, she would just roar out in tongues and she said, “You know, it embarrasses me. I don’t want to do it but I just can’t help it. If I don’t do it the gift wouldn’t come.”
Now I want to tell you this. I hope you can receive this because God’s got ways of doing things that don’t always fit our theological ideas. But, when Lydia died she bequeathed that gift to me. I’ve discovered since I can do it. I never did it while she was here but the gift was too important for God to let it just languish. Since then there have been times in my life where I’ve known that I could minister that healing gift. And, the same type of explosion would come. I realize how embarrassing it is. I always try to be quiet about it but it just doesn’t work.
Then the Lord called Lydia home. I don’t purpose tonight to talk about how to deal with bereavement but I want to tell you that it’s a thing that Christians need to learn to face. When Lydia left me it was like something was torn out of my insides. There’s no way to express the agony I felt. Yet, you have to realize if you want the good you’ve got to take what goes with it. The more you love a person the more you’ll miss them when they go. I have prepared a series of messages on death which will be coming out on the radio. I find that the majority of Christians are not really ready to handle bereavement. I think God put me through a school. I don’t want to speak about it but let me say one thing. Within an hour of her death I did one thing which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I said, “Lord, I release her to you. I’m not asking for her back.” When I made that release I think it enabled God to begin the process of healing.
I also remember the words of Job when all his children were taken from him. He said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” I always used to view that as kind of resignation, what can I do about it. But, in that experience I saw that that was faith. Friends, I want to ask you this. If you can trust the Lord to give, can you trust him to take? You’re not really trusting him if you only trust him to give. It’s got to be a double trust.
Then I told the Lord that I was willing to live single if I could serve him better that way. I was perfectly sincere and after being single for about two years or so I really concluded that was it. Then I went with a very interesting and wonderful group of brothers back to Israel in l977. I remember David and Tony Rose were with us. I decided that I would stay an extra week in Israel to seek out God’s will for my future and, in particular, if it was time for me to turn my face again toward Israel because I knew that my call for that land and that people was not finished. I spend an extra week. In the course of that week I went to visit a mission that has distributed my literature in Israel in Hebrew and many other languages and in Arabic. I thought I owed them the courtesy to go. I’d received a letter from a brother in charge of the mission and at the bottom his secretary had added a little note in handwriting, “Your ministry means so much to me.” So, I thought when I go to the office I’ll do the courtesy of seeing this lady that signed this letter and expressing my appreciation because I really do try—you may not believe me—I try to show I’m grateful to the people that show me any kind of kindness. I never want to lose a friend unnecessarily.
Well, when I got to the headquarters they said the lady had injured her back and she’s lying in bed in her apartment and she’s not here in the office. I looked at David Rose and thought to myself if there’s one thing I am successful for is praying for people with injured backs. I thought it would be very ungracious of me not to offer to pray for her. I said, “If you like, David, you and I will go and pray for her.” They told us the address and David and I got lost in Jerusalem. He was driving a van. I said, “David, let’s give up. Probably God doesn’t want us here.” Right at that moment we were outside the place. We went in and there’s this lady lying on a couch or sitting in a chair, I forget which. I thought let’s keep this short. If there’s on thing I really don’t like it’s visiting the sick. I know it’s a Christian duty but I just don’t like doing it. God bless the people that do it, I mean that.
So, I said, “Anybody check your legs?” She said, “Yes, you did.” I said when was that? She said, “When you were in Washington, D.C., in l971.” I said I don’t remember that, let me try again. They were absolutely even so I said, “I did a good job!” Then David and I prayed and we really felt that God had done something.
Now, let me give her testimony for a moment. She’d had a spinal curvature for many, many years—probably from childhood. Today she has a perfectly straight spine. She also had at that time a ruptured disc and although that was not healed at that time it has been healed since. To God be the glory.
Well, we got to the last night of my last day in Israel and I went to bed at 11 o’clock at night and I had the most unusual night of my life. I got up at 6 a.m. and I had not slept one wink. I hadn’t even got sleepy. All that night the Lord was dealing with me about his purposes for my life, his calling, the promises that he’d given me and he said very clearly to me, “Every promise I’ve ever given you will be fulfilled if you believe and obey me.” Then I had a vision. I don’t get many visions. In this vision I saw the road back to Jerusalem was like going up to the old city at the southwest corner—those of you that know Jerusalem. It was a kind of zigzag road and it led into Jerusalem and the place where God wanted me to be. But, right at the beginning of the road there was this woman sitting in a green dress, if I remember rightly. I knew who the woman was. It was the lady that I visited to pray for. God made it clear to me that the first step in my return to Jerusalem was to marry that woman. I don’t know what you think my reaction was but I tell you, I was upset. Probably I was very carnal but I thought, “Lord, I don’t love the woman. Are you asking me to marry somebody I don’t love?” I thought I’m not going to do anything about this, I’m going to say nothing to anybody for at least one month. I’m just going to pray.
Well, I prayed and the more I prayed the more convinced I was that this was the will of God. Then I thought I better do something about it so I wrote a letter to the lady and I said if you’re coming to the United States it would be nice for you to visit David Rose’s fellowship in Kansas City, they’re so interested in Jerusalem and the Jewish people. She received the letter about three days before she was planning her trip to the United States—about which I knew nothing.
So, we met in Kansas City. She had her daughter with her who is here tonight. I don’t know whether they noticed anything but I looked at them both, I scrutinized them! I thought to myself, you know, is this for real? Then the Lord opened a way for us to spend some time together in David Rose’s home and one evening just before we were going to have a meeting the lady who is here tonight, Ruth, came to my room and said, “I want to speak to you, I need your counsel.” Because she still had this ruptured disc she didn’t like sitting in a chair so she sat on the floor and leaned against the wall and as she sat there I saw her in exactly the position that God had showed me in the vision. As she began to talk to me an overwhelming love for her came over me. I mean, it was like electricity. I was sorely tempted to tell her everything! But, I thought no, I might scare her. Besides, I’m a well known Charismatic preacher and I need to get some more counsel before I go in for all this.
So, it transpired that she was going back—really, I don’t know where to leave things out in this. She was going back to Israel, I was going to South Africa shortly and I’d planned to make a stopover on the way back to this continent in Jerusalem just for a rest. So I said, “I’m going to be in Jerusalem for Yom Kippur.” That’s the Day of Atonement, the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar. I said, “Maybe I can meet you in Jerusalem.” She could tell her side of the story but the Lord was speaking to her. Without my saying anything to her he showed her that he wanted her to marry me. Her reaction too was not altogether enthusiastic at first.
I say that because brother or sister, if anybody comes and says, “The Lord has shown me I’m to marry you.” You better answer he hasn’t shown me yet. Don’t you be stampeded by somebody else’s revelation.
So, while I was in South Africa I thought I’ve always wanted to buy a South African diamond. The last church I preached in, one of the members of the church owned the ritziest jewelry store in Pretoria which is the capitol city. In fact, the prime minister of South Africa and others were his customers. I said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to buy a diamond.” He said, “I’ll take you to my store and explain them all to you and I’ll give you a good deal.” I bought a diamond and I knew what I was buying it for. I mean, I just knew that I was buying it to put on Ruth’s finger.
But, the thing was the Holy Spirit was pressuring me to buy that diamond. Those of you that know me know I’m not a really very covetous person and I just don’t run out to all the stores and shop. The man showed me another stone, a tiger’s eye, which is something that is found mainly in South Africa and very nicely set in gold. I said I’d take that too.
Then I sent a cable to Ruth and said meet me in the King David Hotel at 9 a.m. the day before the Day of Atonement. There I am in the King David Hotel lobby at 8:45, believe me, sitting there wondering will she or won’t she? At 9:03, I would say, in she walks through the door. I thought, you know, this is it. What’s going to happen next? We had breakfast together which has become a custom of ours! I didn’t mean it that way but anyhow! I thought what do I do now? You know, I’m a tremendously naive person when you get to know me. I said, “I brought you a souvenir,” which was this tiger’s eye, a really quite expensive piece of jewelry. I mean, you know, it wasn’t just a $15 item.
I thought I better find out about her, I don’t know the first thing about her. I got her to tell me her life’s story. Then we decided that we would go to the synagogue for the initial, the eve of Yom Kippur ceremony which is the most sacred, solemn ceremony. We went to the main synagogue on King George Avenue and the man who was in charge, what you would call the janitor, said, “No tickets left.” You have to get tickets, you understand. I said, “I’m a visitor from the United States and this is rather special for me.” He said, “Well, they’ll cost you $15 each.” I said, “Okay, give me two tickets.” He wrote in Hebrew Mr. Prince and Mrs. Prince. As I handed Ruth’s ticket to her I said, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to go as Mrs. Prince. I couldn’t explain to the man it’s different.” I mean, my Hebrew was only just equal to getting the tickets, let alone explaining anything else. But again, I said to myself the Jewish people are a prophetic people. That’s God that put that name on the ticket.
So, sometime in the course of the next 24 hours I told Ruth what the Lord had shown me about her. I thought, you know, you either do it or you don’t do it. You either believe it’s from God. I’m just not one to date, I can’t bother with all these niceties and formalities. It either works or it doesn’t. All I had to say is it worked. So, I ended up by being deeply in love with the lady in the course of about 48 hours. Most of you would agree I’m a fairly emotionally stable person.
Then a lot of things had to happen. I don’t want to go into this in detail but I felt I owed it to my committed brothers not to marry without their approval. I realize that I wasn’t a private individual, I was a figure in the Charismatic movement. If I did something wrong at this stage of my life and ministry it could overthrow the faith of thousands of people who looked to me as a kind of leader and figure. So, we had a meeting and I told them everything and they got glummer and glummer and less and less believing. When it came to the vision I could see it wasn’t getting through to them. It sounds comical now but it didn’t then. Only one of them had met Ruth for a couple of hours, otherwise they didn’t know her and she was a rather strange person. She was a convert to Judaism who lived in Jerusalem and you know. Frankly, I had to say looking back none of my brothers—I don’t think they would have thought any woman was good enough to marry me, when I think back.
So, we had a very, I would say, intense meeting and they said, “We’re asking you not to do it.” I don’t know how you would respond to that but unfortunately, I had written a book called The Grace of Yielding. Every time I wanted to argue God said to me, “You wrote the book, are you going to do what it says or not?” I tell you, many, many times I wished I never wrote that book! I said, “All right, you say no, I’ll agree. All I ask is you put it in a letter that I can take to Ruth and explain your decision and I’ll communicate it to her and we’ll break off the relationship.”
It so happened that I had the privilege of going to Jerusalem again for a few days just before Sadat came for the first time. So, I delivered the message and we said good-bye and broke it off. I believe that was in the will of God. Looking back I do not believe our relationship could ever have been what it is today if we hadn’t been willing to make that submission. I tell you, it’s one thing to preach submission, it’s another thing to practice it.
After that, I had a commitment to go to New Zealand and Australia for about six weeks over Christmas and New Years. I realized the Lord was getting me away from everything and everybody so that I could pray. While I was in the jet plane flying west across the Pacific Ocean the Lord gave me a scripture. It’s in Psalm 61:2.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Do you know what impressed me? The psalmist that wrote that ever went anywhere near the end of the earth. How could he write it? There I was literally on my way to the end of the earth. If you want to know, the east coast of New Zealand is the furthest inhabited place on the surface of the globe from Jerusalem. But, God said that’s what you’re going to the end of the earth for, to pray. I tell you, I prayed.
There’s a kind of desperation that God waits to achieve in us. Do you know that? Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s one thing to say a prayer, it’s another thing to be a prayer. I became my own prayer. One week in Australia I ended up in a little Pentecostal pastor’s home and they gave me a little room and they were very kind but they press themselves on me. I spent hours every day that week in prayer in that room. I want to tell you I prayed through. When I came back out of there I knew that Ruth was to be my wife. I didn’t fear, I didn’t doubt. God gave me a very beautiful little saying. “What dies in the fall will be resurrected in the spring.” Isn’t that beautiful? I’d given her up in the fall and in the spring it was resurrected.
I want to just say something to you. Almost everything that God gives us has to go through a death and a resurrection. Do you know that? I said, “God, why?” He gave me this answer. “Because, when I resurrect a thing I can resurrect it the way I want it.” I really believe God gave me a new depth of relationship with him. He also said something to me very beautiful which I’m going to say—it could expose me to criticism. I want you to learn the lessons. He said very simply, “Because thou hast humbled thyself I can entrust thee with honor.” Actually, in my spirit I know that God is going to entrust me with a new measure of honor. I just say that because I want you to understand there’s a price to pay. The book of Proverbs says before honor is humility. I’ve been through this. As far as I’m concerned it’s settled as if it was written in the sky. I know what God is going to do within certain areas. I don’t believe I’ll ever have to go through that particular experience again. I bless God for every part of it, looking back.
Back in Jerusalem by divine appointment—and I think I should tell you the Lord gave Ruth this, “I will deliver him to you and pay the postage.” I went to Jerusalem three times in the next few months and every time my fare was paid! I don’t need to go into the details. Then when I got in contact with my brothers again the Lord had changed their hearts. I would have to say they have welcomed Ruth, both them and their wives, with love and acceptance.
I have to say that if I had given God a blueprint or a job description of the type of woman I needed to marry, it would have been Ruth. I mean, I took her in faith, I’d have to say that. I’m glad I did. She took me in faith, too. I mean, who would think that I was marrying a former sergeant from the U.S. Marines? I didn’t now I was getting that. One day we were sitting in the Mercedes and she said, “You know, I took a course in tractor maintenance.” I mean to say! Seriously, she has every skill and ability that I need to supplement my ministry. In the matter of writing she’s the very person I’ve been needing for years. Every time I got somebody who could help me they got promoted, which was all right. But, I’m not letting my wife get promoted! That’s one person I can hold on to.
I just glance at God’s dealings and I think the first time the Lord gave me a woman from a Scandinavian background, fair hair and blue eyes. I met her in Jerusalem. The second time I met her in Jerusalem, she’s from Norwegian background, she has fair hair and blue eyes. Both Lydia and Ruth share the most important thing in my life, a total commitment to Israel. Any woman that was not totally committed to Israel could not be my wife.
So, way back in April of this past year one day together we solemnly dedicated ourselves to God and to each other for Jerusalem, for Israel, for God’s people everywhere. There are things that one does in life that one knows will stand no matter what if the world folds up. That’s one of them. God has plunged me into a new intensity and development of my ministry that I simply could not handle even physically if I didn’t have the skilled assistance of Ruth. The radio ministry, the way it has exploded, the demands it has made on me I simply could never have handled if I hadn’t had that loyal, committed, skilled assistant that I didn’t even ask for, God provided.
Now, I particularly want to speak next week, take myself and visions and revelations out of it, and come down to the basics. I don’t want anybody to leave her tonight imagining that you can’t get married unless you get a vision. But, on the other hand, I’m going to give teaching on what I believe are the basics of making the right choice of a partner.