The Refiner’s Fire
About the Guest
'All That I'm Made For' (live acoustic) by Out of the Dust
Download the song 'Make Us Whole' by Out of the Dust
Chris and Stephanie Teague look back on their divorce and tell how God worked to get them to a place where they would consider reconciliation and remarriage.
The Refiner’s Fire
Bob: When Chris Teague’s divorce was final, he was convinced his marriage was over for good; but God had other plans.
Chris: I’m reluctant to say things like “God told me”; but God told me to pursue Stephanie. I never thought that would happen—like we said: “I may believe in God again; but our lives won’t be together, even if that happened.” I needed that sort of message from Him. I told Stephanie about it.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What happened when Chris Teague reached out to his ex-wife Stephanie? Well, we’ll hear that story today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. There are some couples I’ve talked to over the years who got to a point in their relationship, where all hope was gone; and then, God stepped in and did something unexpected that just turned everything around. I sometimes wonder if God doesn’t wait for us to give up all hope just so He can show: “Okay; now, I’m going to show you what I can do.”
Dennis: Yes. I love a great redemption story, and you’re about to hear one.
I’d like to welcome Chris and Stephanie Teague back to the broadcast. Stephanie/Chris—welcome back.
Chris and Stephanie: Thank you.
Dennis: We introduced them earlier, Bob; and you remember this as: “…having been married in 2006 and, again, in 2011.” [Laughter]
Bob: You guys met when you were teenagers on a mission trip.
Bob: You fell for each other. You dated for a couple of years—got married while you were in college.
Three-and-a-half years, everything seemed okay; except you were hiding some stuff, Chris; right?
Chris: Little bit; yes.
Bob: Part of what you were hiding was that your faith / your belief in God had eroded. You just wanted to do whatever you wanted to do and that led to the day that you came home and said: “I don’t believe in God. I want a divorce.” A few months later, the divorce was granted; and you guys were no longer husband and wife.
Dennis: And you had been a worship leader.
Chris: Yes. I was—I mean, I was doing drugs, and hanging out, and doing everything under the sun Saturday night—and waking up, going Sunday morning, leading worship, all while questioning everything / not believing.
Bob: —and keeping it hidden from your wife and everybody else.
Chris: Yes. It was a weird season.
Dennis: Well, I want to hear the rest of the story of how you guys got back together in 2011; but you have since formed a music group called Out of the Dust—it’s a duo—and just have released your LP, first ever, by the same title; right?
Stephanie: That’s right.
Chris and Stephanie: Self-titled.
Bob: It’s a collection of songs that have been informed by the story we’ve been hearing this week.
Let’s dive into where we were—Stephanie, you had come to a place, where you just kind of figured: “I got to get on with life, because this chapter is over.” You didn’t have any hope that the marriage would ever resurrect; did you?
Stephanie: I didn’t; no. I got to the point where I didn’t think that I was going to be in his future—I didn’t believe that our marriage was going to be reconciled, but I truly felt that his walk with the Lord would continue somehow.
Bob: You thought he’d come back to faith.
Stephanie: I did.
Dennis: Were you not dating and not thinking about other guys?
Stephanie: I didn’t see it as wise to try to pursue a relationship or anything at that point.
God took me on my own unique journey that summer of really revealing to me some of the heart issues that I had and that I brought into the marriage, because nobody could see the junk that I had going on and that I contributed to some of the downfall of our marriage—you know, my pride, and self-righteousness, and these issues that are—its ugly, but it’s internal—so you don’t necessarily see it.
Bob: You were in the Refiner’s fire.
Stephanie: I was.
Bob: In that, a lot of times, impurities come to the surface—
Bob: —because God is doing a gracious work by bringing those things to light; isn’t He?
Stephanie: That’s right. You mentioned, earlier, the verses in James. I clung to James—you know, that Chapter 1 about considering it joy when you’re going through these trials; because in the end, you’ll be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. I clung to that. I wrote it on the floor—on the base floor of my house that I bought after the divorce, right outside of my bedroom door—so really hung onto those verses.
Throughout that summer of 2010, it was an experience with the Lord that I had never had—you know, even growing up in the church, going on mission trips, doing everything that are “right things” as a godly Christian woman—but never fully relying on Him for everything; because, very self-sufficient, I didn’t need Him in the ways that I should have.
Bob: But now you needed Him; didn’t you?
Stephanie: Oh, I couldn’t move on—I couldn’t start a new day without Him in those first few months.
Dennis: So, had anyone stepped into your life to protect you from him?—and to kind of put some boundaries around you so that, if he did want to come back or want to initiate something, you had some people looking out for you and, also, to whom he would be accountable to?
Stephanie: I don’t know that there was anything set up, specifically, for that; because I don’t think anyone expected him to come back at all. But I’m very close with my family / had a great community at church—
—that, really, rallied behind me and surrounded me that would have had something to say, and did, when he started coming back around.
Bob: Do you remember the day you decided you weren’t going to put your wedding ring on?
Stephanie: Oh! I don’t know if I remember which day it was; but I purposely went and I bought a ring to replace my wedding ring, because I didn’t feel right not having something on my finger. I bought a ring that said: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” If I was going to take my wedding ring off, as it was inevitable, I wanted to replace it with something.
Bob: Did you have anybody call and say, “Would you like to go out to dinner sometime?—you and me?”
Stephanie: I had some friendships with some males, I guess, but nothing—I didn’t feel right about it. I didn’t feel right about jumping into a relationship at that point.
Dennis: So, you didn’t go out to eat.
Stephanie: I guess you could say I did go—okay; let’s be real here—I can say I did go on some dates but no—no relationships.
Bob: You said you had quit following him on Facebook®. Were you still following her on Facebook?
Chris: I mean, I would definitely do some scoping / some peeping every once in a while. I know, for sure, because I still had—I wasn’t in love with her at the time; but I still had love for her, just as a person. I definitely would go and—
Bob: Still curious—
Chris: —yes; stalk her there; yes.
Bob: —but you were also still in the season of life, where the pleasure of sin was enticing and where you were just kind of in the middle of it.
Bob: Do you remember a turning point, where you kind of went: “Wait a sec! I thought I was going to find happiness here, and it’s not working out the way I thought it was going to work out”? Do you remember that?
Chris: Do I ever! So, the selfishness that led me out of the marriage—I didn’t leave that.
Bob: It followed you. [Laughter]
Chris: I didn’t sign that away on the divorce papers. It kept going—some of those destructive patterns—those destructive habits / those destructive behaviors in me went into all these new relationships that I was forming. I was dating people / I was getting into relationships, because: “Why not?”
As that was happening, there was a wave of destruction behind me. It really did come to a head. The weight of everything that I had done was there—I think I tried to ignore it / I think I tried to rationalize and justify it away—but there was a point where my selfishness and the things that I had done, really, finally showed their head. I had to confront who I was, and who I’d been, and what I’d done.
It all came out of just sort of a relationship souring—that is where I found myself, sort of just completely flat on the ground, waking up in cold sweats, just anxious about the day throughout the day / all day—just the weight was crushing of the consequences of these behaviors, and these relationships, and these things that I had done and chased after.
Bob: There were two things that had led you out of your marriage.
Bob: One was—you didn’t want to be married / the other was—you didn’t believe in God.
Chris: That’s right.
Bob: Both of those things were going to have to change if your marriage was going to get put back together.
Bob: Were you starting to doubt your doubts about God?
Chris: Yes. As I looked back, during that time, I remember very clearly, throughout my time away from Stephanie—not before the fall-out / not before the anxiousness—I remember thinking, “I feel like God’s kind of following me,”—I never felt alone. If anything, I think I was agnostic; because, through everything, God was an obstacle—my marriage was an obstacle to my will / to what I wanted to do.
Bob: Here’s what I think—I think you were a Romans 1 person. You were actively suppressing the knowledge of the truth so that you could, in conscience, pursue the selfishness that you wanted.
Chris: Nail on the head.
Bob: I don’t think you were an atheist / I don’t think you were an agnostic—I think you were talking yourself into things that you knew weren’t really true so that you could go be the guy you wanted to be. God led you down the rabbit hole until you hit the bottom and you went “Oh!”—right?
Chris: Yes. I think, in that time, God did show up. I mentioned, before, that the beauty of my story is that all of the arguments that I had conjured / all of the articles that I had read—I had a manifesto—that it was like probably 3,000 words that I said to people of “Why I didn’t believe in God.”
All of that just melted away completely. It all melted away in light of the place that I found myself in at the end of that path—of self, of my will, of what I wanted to do. It all just went away. God showed me just sort of the ugliness of my heart and the ugliness of who I’d been. It was there that His grace truly found me for the first time, I think—not that I wasn’t a believer—but I saw for the first time His grace and His arms of mercy.
Dennis: It’s interesting—when God extends that grace and allows us to have it our way—and that’s a pretty small package. If finding life is giving your life away—as Philippians, Chapter 2, says: “With humility of mind, let each of you think of others more significant than yourself,”—that’s where life is found—
—and so, you live the opposite way.
I mean, you had experienced what it was like to give your life away. Now, you weren’t living that way. At what point did the pain become so great that you sought to contact Stephanie?
Chris: Bob, you mentioned, earlier, that sometimes God does let all hope go. It reminded me of the siege of Canaan in the Old Testament, when God told like
99 percent of the army to go away. He said: “I will do this so that you boast in no one but Me.” That’s what we experienced—I had nothing left. I had used up every resource—I had burned through every friendship / I burned through my marriage—all these wonderful gifts that God had given me. Here, I am—flat on my face.
The moment—I started reading the Bible again. I pulled out my dad’s old AA notebook, where he had written a note to me.
He had passed away—but these relics that I had of his—I found those and started just pouring through them and felt God drawing me back to Himself. I’m reading Scriptures and I hear Him telling me—just my makeup, I’m reluctant to say things like: “God told me”—but God told me to pursue Stephanie again. This is coming at a time when I said I never thought that would happen—like we said: “I may believe in God again,”—but this came out of my mouth—“I may believe in God again; but our lives won’t be together, even if that happened.” So, God—I needed that sort of message from Him. I told Stephanie about it. [Laughter]
Dennis: How did you tell her?
Chris: I actually contacted her mom first. It’s kind of a funny detail. We had—
Bob: Contacted her mom? [Laughter]
Chris: I know.
Stephanie: He did.
Chris: I know. I have a great relationship—or had before the fall-out—with her parents.
I reached out to her mom and said, “Hey, would she be interested in just getting together and talking?” So, we did. I went to her house. She had a new house in the same neighborhood that we lived before, where I lived while we were apart—that’s her stubbornness coming out. [Laughter]
Stephanie: I liked the neighborhood. I didn’t want to have to live somewhere else [Laughter] just because of it.
Chris: So, we walked our neighborhood for—
Dennis: No, no, no, no. [Laughter] I want to know when you made the call or went to the door [sound of knocking on door].
Bob: I hope he didn’t just send a text and say, “Hey, you want to hang out?”
Chris: No; no.
Stephanie: Well, he had met—he met with my parents / he didn’t just ask my mom. He met with my parents, and talked to them, and confessed to them what had happened that summer.
Chris: Thanks, Babe—I have a terrible memory. [Laughter]
Stephanie: It is okay—and I think seeking, you know, some forgiveness from them as well.
Stephanie: From that meeting, I got a call from my mom—she asked: “Hey, Chris is here. This went really well. I think it would be good for you to talk to him if you’re up for it.”
Dennis: There’s a concept in the New Testament called bringing forth the fruits of repentance. I think meeting with her mom and dad to confess wrongdoing was definitely a statement of bringing forth the fruits of repentance.
Bob: When he showed up at your door that night—hadn’t seen each other for months / hadn’t talked—what was going on in your mind and in your heart?
Stephanie: He found me in an interesting place; because I had—actually, I was going through divorce care. I had just gotten back from a mission trip to Nigeria that completely wrecked me and shifted my worldview. I was in a great place, emotionally and spiritually. I was looking forward to talking to him—I still deeply cared about him / I cared about his wellbeing—so, I enjoyed talking to him. It was so strange, but I really enjoyed hearing him telling me all the ways that God had shown up in his life that summer—
—ways that he couldn’t deny. These things—honestly, I think—because they were things I wished I had heard before—so to have this conversation with him and to see Jesus in him more than I ever had before, it was a really beautiful thing.
By the end of the conversation, I think we had gotten to the driveway; because I didn’t let him in the house—this was my place / my sanctuary—we got to my driveway. He got around to the whole: “God told me that we’re supposed to be together.” I thought: “Okay; no—I just don’t—I haven’t been told that.” [Laughter] I didn’t—that still was off my radar. You know, I had moved on and cared for him deeply, but I didn’t think that was what our future was.
Chris: She hadn’t seen that message in the inbox yet. [Laughter]
Bob: So, when he says, “God told me we are to be together,” did you just say, “Well, I guess we’ll wait and see what God tells me”—or how did you respond to that?
Stephanie: I know that it wasn’t a positive response. I know because it wasn’t what you wanted me to say.
It wasn’t like an immediate, “No.” I don’t remember the exact words, but I knew that jumping into something was not—that was not right. I didn’t feel settled with it. I think where we left it was: “We’re going to take a few months. I don’t really want us to continue conversations. We need to figure this out on our own.” Especially for me, I needed to know this change in him was a permanent change / it was a heart change—it wasn’t something he was doing because he wanted to fix everything, because he was miserable.
Dennis: I want to affirm you for making sure. I think, too many times, repentance is kind of assumed at a surface level. True repentance means turning / turning 180 degrees—and that means over time.
Stephanie: Yes; I wasn’t skeptical, but I also had been tricked before. We took a few months. We did counselling, separately / we ended up coming together, doing some together.
After those few months, we asked our counselor / we asked the people around us, in our church, kind of their outside view: “You know, does this look like something that we should pursue? Is this a healthy thing? Are we in a healthy place to move forward and begin the process of reconciliation?”
We kind of got the go ahead from everybody. We know that our counselor encouraged us. God is the God of relationships and restoration and: “If at all possible, we’re going to try it. We’re going to go for it.” We were very intentional. We went on our second “first date” in November of that year, with the intention of marriage, and were engaged by the following January and remarried in a very small ceremony on February 17, 2011.
Dennis: So, the restoration process, formally, was approved by a group from the church.
Dennis: I really want to underscore the steps that were taken; because there are people listening to this broadcast who may be in situations, where a spark of hope maybe ignited or flicker as they listen to this story and your story of God’s goodness and grace to you two. The key is: “You don’t rush back into a marriage and make a second mistake.”
Dennis: You got to do it the right way.
Bob: And you get some other voices—some wise counsel / some mature people, who aren’t as emotionally entangled as the two of you are—and you listen to them.
Dennis: And people who will protect you from yourself.
Bob: You’ve now put together a CD that’s a basketful of songs that have been informed and inspired by this season of your life / this chapter of your life.
By the way, we should also say you’ve also added two Teagues to the tribe—you have a two-year-old and a three-year-old; right? [Laughter]
Bob: And this story, as we’re sitting here today, is now six years in the making. It’s been six years since you’ve been reconciled. Would you have a song that you think sums up the story we’ve heard?
Bob: Alright; why don’t you get ready to sing a song for us and tell us a little bit about the song?
While you get ready, I’ll let our listeners know how they can get a copy of the CD that features the song we’re about to hear. The CD’s called Out of the Dust—Chris and Stephanie Teague. We’ve got copies of it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get a copy of the CD.
You can also get more information, online, about the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, as long as we’re talking about God doing a work in marriages like we’ve been doing this week. No matter where you are in your marriage, God can still refresh a marriage as you get away and spend a couple of days focusing on one another and hearing the biblical blueprints for a godly marriage.
Again, information about the Weekend to Remember is available, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to find out more about the getaway.
And last thing I’ll say to those of you that help support this ministry: “Thank you for partnering with us to extend the reach of FamilyLife—to help us reach more people, more regularly all around the world.” We are saying, “Thank you,” this month for your donation of any amount by sending you a copy of Dennis’s brand-new book, which is called Choosing a Life That Matters. It talks about the foundational issues in all of our lives that need to be resolved if we’re going to have healthy marriages and families. Ask for your copy of Choosing a Life That Matters when you donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call to donate at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Okay; you guys all hooked up and ready? Tell us about the song you’re going to sing.
Chris: I love a good redemption story. The basis of this song is almost 400 years old. There’s an old folk tradition of taking songs and repurposing them as your own—so, I wanted to join in that. This is actually an old song called O Wail, O Wail—not like a swimming whale—but like, ah, you’re wailing. It’s an old song about lost love. I wanted to redeem that, because God redeemed our story when nothing was left.
Stephanie: We kind of took liberties on the melody—the original melody of the old folk song—and put some new lyrics to it that tell our story of redemption.
Chris: Yes; that’s right.
Stephanie: It’s called I’ll Never Hide.
[Chris and Stephanie Singing I’ll Never Hide]
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
©Song: I’ll Never Hide
Artist: Chris and Stephanie Teague
Album: Out of the Dust
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