Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s Current Chapter of Life
“We’re still on mission. That’s how I describe it. We have not retired. We have refired, recalibrated and re-upped because I think until you breathe your last breath, you’re in the King’s army and it’s time to do warfare. Our country is teetering around some of its most basic foundational tenets and it’s a mess. It needs a biblical perspective.”
What Was The Intent of Writing ‘Our Story With Dennis and Barbara Rainey?’
“We wrote it because as we celebrated our 50th anniversary, and as we were looking forward to that, we wanted to leave our kids a gift of some kind. We realized as we talked, that even though our kids think they know our story, they probably only know pieces of our story. Our grandkids don’t know our story. They don’t know the stories of what God has done in our lives.
They don’t know all the things that we’ve been through and how God has been so faithful. We also realized that some of the youngest grandchildren we might not know for very long. So we decided to write our story in print and give all of the grandkids and our kids a copy so that they would know a little bit more about their mom and dad and their Mimi and Papa.”
“A number of years ago we were given a letter by Dave and Peggy Jones. It was by a Baptist preacher named Obadiah Holmes in the 1600s. That letter now has survived 12 generations. He was addressing his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren as he spoke. He wanted them to be on mission, to be a part of the King’s army, and to roll up their sleeves, making a difference in their generation.”
How Dennis and Barbara Rainey Met
“We met in college when I was a junior at the University of Arkansas and Barbara was a sophomore through Campus Crusade for Christ. We were in the same group together and we always liked each other and got along well. She dated my very best friend and unfortunately he couldn’t make a decision to marry her. So I said, ‘if you don’t marry her, I will.’ About a year later, we found ourselves together at a little meeting in Dallas, Texas called Explo 72’.
I was in charge of transportation for 40,000 high school kids. I think we’ll get to heaven and find out we had angels driving the buses during Explo 72’ because a hundred thousand people came together in the Cotton Bowl. It was a powerful time to see God at work. But we were in the midst of a relationship beginning at that point. We really never dated, we just hung out. We spent time together when we were working on Explo for 52 days out of 50. A guy who had influenced our lives dramatically at the University of Arkansas named Don Meredith, the campus director of Cru, sat us down in a musty motel room in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.”
How The Topic of Marriage Came up For Dennis and Barbara Rainey
“Don asked if he could have an hour with us and we said sure. So we drove over to this hotel and he told us to have a seat. We sat in two chairs and Don planted himself between us both on the edge of the bed and said, ‘you two have been dating long enough, you’ve been hanging out with each other. I think its time to decide whether or not it is God’s will for you to get married.’ I was shocked because that had not entered my mind at all. It hadn’t entered Dennis’s mind either. We’d been really good friends in college for three years, and I had had enough dating relationships that went south. I just thought, ‘I really like him a lot. I want to keep him as a really good friend, and I don’t want to mess it up by turning it into a dating relationship, because then that might jeopardize the friendship.”
Pre-Marital Boundaries and Dennis’ Proposal
“At one point, we were walking through North Park Shopping Center in North Dallas and I reached over to hold Barbara’s hand, when we’d gone out 52 days out of 55, just as friends. We went fishing, we had lunch, we hung out till 2:00 AM in the morning just talking and getting to know each other. I reached over to hold her hands. We were walking out of the shopping center. She shot me a look and said, ‘why did you do that?’ And I didn’t have an answer and so I dropped her hand right there in the parking lot and that kind of drew a line about the physical involvement that we had.
It was not going to be built on any kind of physical relationship. We virtually didn’t kiss until we got engaged. He challenged us to get alone and take two weeks and pray about it. I prayed about it for two days because I’m a man of action. I lived in Boulder, Colorado and so I decided I’d call Barbara in South Carolina. It was about midnight in Boulder and it was 2:00 AM for her. I woke her and I said, ‘I’ve been praying about this. Will you be my wife? Will you marry me?”
Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s Decision to Get Married
“We had talked this through after we had that meeting with Don in the hotel. We drove off somewhere and talked for two or three hours. As we talked it through, we thought, God has a plan and God knows what He’s doing, and if this is God’s will, why would we want anything else? So we agreed that we were going to pray about it.
As I flew back to South Carolina, I said, ‘Lord, I need to know what Your will is. I need to know if this is where you want me to go. And if he asks me to marry him, do You want me to say yes or am I supposed to say no and walk away?’ And I had this sense of peace that if he asked me, I was supposed to say yes. I didn’t hear a voice. It was just contentment and a sense of peace.”
The Vital Importance of Praying With Your Spouse
“Barbara has said no to praying with me on occasion. She says, ‘no, because I don’t like you tonight. You’ve hurt me. And until you repent, you’re not going before Almighty God and having a conversation with Him, like nothing’s wrong.’ So I can honestly say, I don’t think we would be married today if we didn’t pray together.”
“The practical reality of marriage is that you’re not always going to feel like doing the right thing no matter what it is, and praying together is just one of those many things. I just wasn’t willing to fake a relationship with God, with my husband. When he asked if we could pray, and I felt like there was something unresolved, I said, ‘no, I think we need to talk about this first.’ So it’s being real with each other, but also being real before God. Faking it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
“For a number of years, I’ve challenged men to pray with their wives, and I’ve made this promise: If you pray together with your wife, I can promise you on the authority of scripture, not chapter and verse, but generally, your marriage will not be the same.
I think one of the reasons why prayer is so important is because you’re talking with God. To talk to God your will has to be bent. Your neck has to be bowed to His authority. When two broken, selfish people bow their necks before Almighty God, God can show up. He can’t show up when they’re stiff necked people who can’t admit fault and refuse to ask for forgiveness. When I’ve hurt Barbara, that doesn’t work. That marriage will never be what God intended it to be.”
The Meaning of ‘The Prize is Won, But The Competition Isn’t Over’
“Barbara flew back to campus at the University of South Carolina after we had been together at the wedding. I didn’t tell you that the guy she flew back with was a pilot in his own plane and he was after Barbara. So I had a little competition and I kind of wanted to seal the deal and see if Barbara wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. But it occurred to me early in our marriage that just because you’ve sealed the deal and you’ve got wedding bands on, doesn’t mean the competition’s over.
There’s kids, work, and women of the streets competing. There was a guy that I’d led to Christ who made a pass at Barbara in our home. So we moved the Bible study out of our home to another place. You’ve got to keep going for the soul of your wife and her heart. You must want her to be nourished and cherished and cared for. We haven’t done it perfectly, but we continue to do that in one another’s lives. It’s fun to court each other.”
“I think he did generate the idea, but as soon as I heard him start talking about that, I knew that it was true for both of us. It wasn’t just him going after me, continuing to court me and to pursue me after we were married. I needed to also contribute to that because it’s both of us saying no to other things, people, interests, and distractions. It’s both of us continuing to say yes to each other and yes to the priority of our marriage over everything else. So it’s a lesson that we’ve both learned, not just one of us.”
The Covenant of Trust in Marriage
“Early in our marriage, I went to Billy Graham’s school of writing because I didn’t know how to write. I stayed in a Holiday Inn and when I stepped out of the room and started to go down the stairs, there was a Playboy magazine full spread laid out at the top of the steps. In a moment’s notice, I had to make a decision. And my mind went through, ‘She’s beautiful. No one will know. God will know. I’ll have to tell Barbara.’ Even at that point in our marriage, I compared Barbara to a magnet that drew me home from travels and from the marketplace with my children. And I didn’t want to betray that trust and I didn’t want to betray her or our family in making a momentary decision.
So I stepped over. I do think there was a lot hanging in the balance at that moment. I’d like to tell you that I’ve always stepped over and never, never looked. I have failed and talked to Barbara about it. We discuss those matters in our marriage, and she’s discussed them with me too when there’s been an attraction to the opposite sex. So I think that’s trust and the covenant of marriage is a sacred matter. And I think we have to maintain it with faithfulness and enduring love, just like God’s enduring love of us.”
Lessons From ‘Our Story’ That Stand Out to Barbara Rainey
“We must lavishly forgive one another. We tend to think that you forgive and it’s one and done. But there are some things that we each struggle with that we have to come clean from or repent from over and over again. I think forgiveness is the lifeblood of any relationship. If you don’t forgive continually, walls begin to build.
The second one is that honoring your parents helps set you free. Dennis wrote a book on honoring your parents years ago, and we talked about it a lot at the speaker retreat. I remember that being so important to me because the things that I needed to forgive in my relationship with my parents were impacting my marriage and my family. That teaching and principle he had discovered was true in his own life. He kept encouraging me to forgive my parents and to honor them, and to establish that relationship on the right footing and to let go of the things that I was holding onto.”
Lessons From ‘Our Story’ That Stand Out to Dennis Rainey
“We learn to build too many guardrails around our relationship rather than too few. I don’t travel with women. I don’t have lunch with women alone. If I do meet with women, the door is open in my office. A second one that I think is really important for Hanna’s generation especially is to protect the margins around your marriage and family. Young people today are incredibly busy. Napoleon said, ‘fatigue makes cowards of us all.’ I think exhaustion causes us to drop our guardrails.
The last one is that our new mission is sharing the truth about God and our experience of God with our children and grandchildren. Psalm 78:5-8 gives us a charge. We’ve been given a testimony and the law. The testimony is your experience of God, and I think that begins by sharing the gospel and how you came to faith. It occurred to Barbara and me that we had never shared our testimonies with all of our grandkids. So we used the opportunity on our 50th anniversary to do that. But the second thing is to pass on your experience of the truth of God that is a living reality.”
About Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Dennis & Barbara Rainey are co-founders of FamilyLife, a subsidiary of Cru. Since the organization began in 1976, for more than 41 years the Raineys’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry that offers families blueprints for living godly lives, marriages, and families in more than 110 countries around the world.
The Raineys have authored or co-authored 35 books, including the best-selling Moments Together for Couples and The Art of Parenting. They served as the senior editors of the HomeBuilders Couples Series® which sold over three million copies. Barbara has authored a number of books including Letters to My Daughters: The Art of being a Wife, Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, and the Growing Together Family Series. Books written by Dennis include Interviewing Your Daughter’s Dates, Stepping Up: A Call for Courageous Manhood and Choosing a Life that Matters.
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