Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King

B. Childress
May 05 2013

To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)


People often ask me: “Henry, how do you explain how God has used your life to accomplish so much for His kingdom?”  
My response is always twofold: First, I am an extremely ordinary person.  I think God wanted to demonstrate what His
incredible power could do in peoples’ lives so He searched high and low for the most ordinary person He could find for
His demonstration, and He finally came upon me!  I can only say that I have sought with all my heart to surrender to God,
and the results of that commitment have been incredible.  But the second thing I quickly add is this: “When God intended
to use an ordinary life like mine for His purposes, He chose in His great wisdom to match me up with the partner perfectly
suited to me and to God’s direction for my life.”

I am by nature a shy, introverted person.  My parents were British and brought me up to be reserved and to eat fried
chicken at picnics with a knife, fork, and napkin!  My wife, Marilynn, is an off-the-scale extrovert who was born and raised
in Oklahoma.   We could not be more opposite if we tried.  Yet God had a purpose for both of us from the beginning.

Both of our families were active in their local churches.  Our fathers were deacons.  Both sets of parents helped start
new churches.  Having grown up in such homes, we both surrendered our lives when we were young to do whatever our
Lord commanded and to go wherever He told us to go.  Early on, we grew to love the local church and to have a heart
for missions.

God’s plans for me included learning to walk by faith through some extremely challenging times as a mission pastor in
Canada and eventually traveling millions of miles around the world teaching others what God had instructed me.  For me
to fulfill God’s will in these ways, I would require a life partner with a unique calling of her own.  God brought Marilynn into
my life, and what a joy it has been to experience God’s will together for nearly fifty years!


For several years, Marilynn and I led “Experiencing God as Couples” conferences across the country.  It was marvelous
to invite husbands and wives to stand together before God to see what He intended for their marriage.  Ultimately, a
study course with videos was made of this teaching, and a large percentage of couples who attended our conferences
felt called into Christian ministry through these events.  Many marriages were restored.  Once couples came to
understand God’s purpose for their marriage, they discovered an entirely new and exciting dimension to their lives

Jesus said of marriage:

    “Haven’t you read, that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female…For this reason a
    man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?  So they are no
    longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Marriage is God’s joining together of a man and woman to create a union through which He can accomplish His
purposes and be glorified.  It is not merely a human contract or agreement but is, rather, a divine union, a new creation
that did not exist before.  God has a special purpose for each couple.  He is absolutely committed to the sanctity of
marriage and He hates divorce! (Malachi 2:16).

Just as God clearly guided Marilynn and me to marry, God has led you to your spouse.  If you have not done this
recently, take time to list the various ways you know God directed you to be joined with your spouse.  At times during the
busyness of daily life, we forget that God gave us a husband or wife as an expression of His love for us.


What does it mean to be one flesh?  It means your life is not your own.  If you are married, you and your life partner are
not two separate individuals trying to coexist.  You are one.  For your wife to feel pain is for you to suffer too.  For your
husband to experience spiritual victory is for you to be successful as well.

When God has a plan for the wife, it means God’s activity will affect the husband too.  I have heard a person say, “I want
to go forward with God, but my wife is unwilling.  Should I go on without her?”  My response is: “You are one flesh.  You
cannot leave your spouse behind.”  Others have said, “My wife clearly senses God wants us to be more involved in
missions, but I haven’t heard God say anything to me”  My response: “You are one flesh.  If God spoke to your spouse,
He has just spoken to you!”  Because you are one flesh, you need to adjust your life to a word God speaks to your

That is why I always strongly advise couples coming to me for premarital counseling to consider carefully where God is
leading their potential partner because, after they are married, God’s directives to one directly affects the other.  I have
known people who had a clear sense of God’s leading in their lives in one direction but, after they married, they set
aside everything God had previously said to them because their spouse was not interested in those same things.  When
I asked Marilynn to marry me, I knew God had been working in her life long before we met.  When Marilynn was five
years old, she was gravely ill and almost died.  After that, she had a strong sense that her life belonged to God.  So I
asked her, “Marilynn, what has God told you He intends to do through your life?  What promises have you made to
God?  If I marry you, I promise to spend the rest of my life helping you keep every promise you made.”

Do you know what commitments your spouse has made to God?  Are you aware of his or her spiritual pilgrimage?  Do
you have a sense of where God is presently leading your spouse?  Christians ought to be aware of these important
questions concerning their life partner.  How have you helped your partner respond to God’s activity and to obey His will?


Marilynn and I have spoken to thousands of couples over the years.  We challenge husbands to do everything they can
to help their wives become all God intends.  Likewise, wives ought to strive to help their husbands become men of God.  
Christian couples must make their mutual love and edification a top priority.  If parents neglect their own walk with God,
their children will be imperiled.  The greatest thing you can do for your children is to support and encourage your spouse’
s walk with God.


Being spiritually one with your spouse is critical to hearing from God.  That is why the apostle Paul warned believers not
to marry unbelievers (see II Corinthians 6:14).  He said it’s like trying to mix light and darkness.  They cannot become
one spiritually because they are opposite in their fundamental natures.  The spiritual intimacy you have with your spouse
will affect your walk with God.  The apostle Peter said a husband who mistreats his wife will find his prayers hindered
(see I Peter 3:7).  That is also why it is wise never to allow your anger or damaged relationship to remain unresolved
(see Ephesians 4:26).


Marilynn worked with me in pioneer missions in Canada for eighteen years.  She has also walked alongside me as I have
been a writer and speaker.  Over the last two decades, she has traveled with me to numerous countries as we
encouraged God’s people together.  However, as she and I were having coffee together one day, she shared that as a
young girl, she had always dreamed of doing international missions, and although she had traveled around the world
with me, she had never actually gone on a formal mission trip.  I sensed this was a passion God had placed in her heart
and I knew I needed to help her fulfill it.

Soon afterward, Marilynn heard of some missionaries in Asia whose little girls did not have many nice clothes.  Marilynn
loves to smock little girls’ dresses, so she and a friend sewed some beautiful dresses and mailed them to the
missionaries.  The missionaries were deeply grateful.  They shared that there was dire poverty among the people with
whom they worked and asked if there were any way Marilynn could come and teach the local women to smock.  Then
they could sew dresses to sell and earn an income for their impoverished families.  When Marilynn mentioned the
possibility to me, I could see the gleam in her eye, and I knew this was an opportunity for her to do some genuine
mission work.  Smocking for Jesus!

Marilynn began collecting materials, and by the time she left for the trip she had two large boxes brimming with supplies.  
She traveled to Asia with a medical missions team from our church.  While everyone else carried stethoscopes and
thermometers, she took along sewing needles and thread.  Then for a week, she taught a group of ladies in Asia how to

Marilynn loved it, the ladies were ecstatic, and plans were made to sell the clothes.  Now our church’s medical missions
team has asked Marilynn to go with them to West Africa!  Marilynn is a grandmother of fourteen.  She has served with
me faithfully in ministry for nearly half a century.  But these are some of the most rewarding and fulfilling days in her life!  
I’m so glad that when I saw God working in her life, I was able to encourage her and see her experience the joy of the
Lord as she responded to God’s invitation.


One of the most exciting things you can do is to look for where God is working in your partner’s life and join Him!  There
are several ways you can do this:

    1. Pray regularly for and with your spouse.  God knows what your spouse is going through better than you
    do.  He knows your partner’s fears and insecurities.  God knows what He intends to do through your spouse.  
    Praying regularly for your life mate enables you to gain God’s perspective.  Couples can easily frustrate each
    other.  If we look at our partner solely from a human perspective, we see his or her limitations, failures, and
    weaknesses.  When we view our spouse from God’s perspective, we see unlimited potential in the hands of God.  
    As we pray, God can alert us that we need to take a specific action, or He can prompt us to share a particular
    word of encouragement.  God may show you abilities in your spouse he or she does not see.  As I prayed for
    Marilynn, God affirmed that she has some wonderful insights into walking with God that could encourage many
    others.  While I have been the “professional” speaker throughout our marriage, I felt impressed to encourage her
    to accept speaking invitations that came her way.  I sensed Marilynn needed to be a steward of what God had
    taught her and that it would richly bless others.  As you pray for your spouse, what have you sensed God saying?

    2. Regularly discuss spiritual issues with your spouse.  Some Christian couples never speak to each other
    about God’s activity.  They assume God is working, but they never talk about it.  Ask each other questions such
    as: “What has God been showing you in your quiet times lately?”  Has God placed any particular burden on your
    heart as you have been praying?”  “You seemed very intent during the pastor’s sermon today; what was God
    saying to you?”  I have found that my wife is the best person with whom to share God’s activity in my life.  As I
    relate what I have been hearing God say, Marilynn recognizes things I miss.  Together, we hear more clearly from
    God than we do separately.

    3. Review your spiritual markers together.  As God leads couples through the years, there will be certain key
    moments when He speaks clearly and unmistakably.  It is important to regularly recall these times together.  This
    helps in two ways.  First, it prepares you to understand where God is leading.  When I came to my official age of
    retirement, I, like everyone else my age, had to decide what to do.  Should I join a country club and buy a set of
    golf clubs?  But as Marilynn and I reviewed what God had done in our lives as a couple, we realized that all of our
    married life had been preparatory for what God wanted to do next.  We ultimately formed Blackaby Ministries
    International (www.blackaby.org) so we could respond to God’s invitations around the world to continue
    ministering.  When our son Richard sensed God leading him to join our ministry, we recognized again that this fit
    perfectly with the spiritual markers of our lives.  More recently, God has led Tom to join the ministry as well.  It is as
    if God has been working in our family all these years for such a time as this!  Together, we can respond to each
    new invitation God gives us because we have a clear sense as a couple – and as a family – of how God has led
    us to this point.  A second benefit of reviewing your spiritual markers is that it provides a wonderful opportunity to
    celebrate God’s activity in your lives!  Marilynn and I have a regular time each morning when we have coffee and
    reflect on God’s goodness to us over almost five decades!  What joy that brings!

    4. Minister together as a couple.  God led you to your spouse for a reason.  One purpose is to produce godly
    offspring (see Malachi 2:15).  If couples look for God’s activity together, they will discover unique ways God wants
    to use them to carry out His kingdom work.  I know couples who regularly go on mission trips, coteach a Sunday
    school class, teach English to immigrants, intercede for others, host a home Bible study, take international
    students into their homes, work with single adults, or adopt foreign children.  There are numerous opportunities
    for couples to find tremendous reward in ministering together as God leads.  One couple had separate ministries
    for years.  The husband served as a deacon and on the church finance committee while the wife went on
    international mission trips.  After several years, the wife finally convinced her husband to go with her on a mission
    trip.  The man was overwhelmed by the experience.  In tears he confessed to his wife, “Now I understand what you
    have been talking about all this time!”  They had been missing out on the privilege of serving their Lord together.  
    What are some ways you and your spouse are presently joining in God’s activity together?  Prayerfully consider
    opportunities to do so.

    5. Give together.  Many Christian couples faithfully put their checks in the offering plate as it is passed each
    Sunday, but they have never tapped into the joy of giving together.  God is at work in the world around you.  He
    wants you to become involved both personally and financially.  Marilynn and I have experienced great joy in
    determining together where God wants us to invest money back into His kingdom.  We support our local church
    but also various ministries around the world.  This involves far more than writing a check.  It includes praying
    together and discovering how God wants us to invest our finances in His kingdom.  Together, we are laying up
    treasures in heaven!


EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.