Life Story – A Man and His Trial
Life after divorce was full of adjustments, from a middle-class home to a low-rent apartment. I went from a double income to less than half of my income and from living with family to living alone. In a desperate attempt to fix the pain and loneliness, I had a brief affair with another woman.
The affair was over and the divorce was finale. I was alone in my apartment, more alone than I knew was possible. I literally cried out to the Lord at the top of my lungs. I was ready to confess my sin before Him and face the consequences. I felt the urgent need for His forgiveness. I was overcome with the sense of His presence. (I’m not sure if what I experienced was a dream or a vision, but it was very real.) I raised the mallet that drove a spike in His hand. I heard the sound of bones being crushed and felt His body writhe with the pain of each blow. I began weeping as I struck the spike, but I could not stop. Then I realized who He was and what I was doing, and I finally looked. Our eyes met and I froze, the mallet fell from my hands, and I melted as the compassion flowing from His eyes filled the depths of my empty soul. Then I watched as He raised Himself up off the cross. He walked towards me and I fell into His chest, weeping the bitter tears of an undeserving prodigal son. Then He told me that I must forgive myself, because my lack of self-forgiveness was in fact a denial of His forgiveness.
Galatians 2:20-21 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me. . .”
After that night, I knew it was time to get serious about my walk with God, and a few months later I helped pioneer a singles ministry at the church Sue and I attended before the divorce. I led a singles home group, taught the singles Sunday School class, and helped plan the social events. The fulfillment I felt during this time was unlike anything I had ever experienced. For the first time, I felt God was using me for who I was -- not because I was someone’s son or husband.
When my children were with me, we all felt like family. We had finally adjusted to life apart and the kids and I looked forward to our time together. Then my children moved to another state with their mother, which was a terribly hard adjustment for me. I kept myself busy to avoid having time to think about my children.
During the prior three years, I had been on two dates and really didn’t think much about marriage. I was content in my singleness. Then one Sunday morning, I noticed a new face at Sunday school, my angel had arrived. Tania and I had gone to the same church for over five years and never really met. I called her Monday evening and we talked for hours. She turned me down for a dinner date, but then called back a few days later and caved. Our first date was on Valentines Day and we were married two months later.
Soon, my kids returned to my hometown. We were all elated. Before long Tania and I both observed that my son was out of control, with my daughter following close behind. Their living conditions were unsanitary and dangerous to their health. We prayed about it and counseled with friends. Finally, we decided to file for custody of my two children.
Life Story – A Man and His Heartache
When my son found out about the petition, he turned his rebellion into anger towards Tania and I and refused to even talk to us. Soon after, I got a phone call from Deputy Johnson. Sue had filed charges against me for the sexual molestation of our daughter and the deputy wanted to serve me papers along with a restraining order. I hit an all time low. I knew I was innocent, but somehow when someone accuses you of something like that, you still feel dirty. A few weeks later we went to a hearing, I’ll never forget the hatred I felt aimed at me from the other side of the courtroom. I survived because of Tania and her support.
A few weeks later, the phone rang. It was my pastor calling to inform me that my son had been in a serious car accident. He was in critical and unstable condition and remained comatose for two months. I went to the hospital every morning before work, and every evening on the way home.
While he was in the hospital, I got another call from Deputy Johnson. Everyone involved in the case agreed that I was innocent. He recommended that I take a polygraph to deter Sue from filing false charges in the future. Even though I was innocent, she had ruined the custody battle. I would not see my children again for three years.
For those three years, I wallowed in self-pity and anger with God. I convinced myself that a man, rejected by his own children, had no business in ministry and felt my heart grow cold and hard. I thought about how different I was from the man Tania married and broke when I thought about how faithful she had been to stand by me through it all.
I heard God saying, “I can use you.” I shed a trail of tears that cleansed my hardened heart, and gave me back the heart of a loving husband and a desire to minister again. I turned to Hosea 6:1-3: “Come let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.”
Life Story – A Man and His Victory
Over the course of the last year I have finally embraced the fact that I am my father’s son and accepted the spiritual legacy he left me. I am still in the process. Philippians 4:13-14 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
During the course of the past year both of my children have reestablished contact. Neither one is living a life that would make a father proud, but they both know one thing for sure -- their father loves them. My hope is that as they are drawn to my love for them, the Lord would use me to draw them into the kingdom. My marriage continues to grow as we to learn share and encourage one another in our walk with the Lord. The key for us has been learning to pray together.
Where is your relationship with your family? Have you accepted your Heavenly Father’s spiritual legacy? Have you allowed circumstances to harden your heart?