I learned that there are two ways to interpret scripture, through the letter of the law or through the spirit of the law. By the letter of the law I was more than covered in seeking a divorce. What I learned is living by the letter of the law is religion. It’s a religious exercise in futility like the Israelites of old trying to keep over 600 laws. The spirit of the law, the edicts and will of God, is where relationship thrives and true witness is born.
Scripture and all the leading pastors of our age agree, divorce is OK in cases of adultery and abandonment. My bases were covered. I was at peace with the decision, everything was progressing smoothly, nothing was being contested in court. Earlier God told me two things very clear. The first was He would restore my family. My thoughts were, that’s great but with who? I wasn’t about to go back down that road again with her. I could see the light of freedom at the end of the tunnel. Because I was being so hard-headed and living by the letter of the law He told me a second thing, you’ll marry Amber again. I stopped praying immediately. I even tried rebuking that saying the devil is a lie! I knew that voice, I knew exactly who spoke that yet I was not having any of it. It was two days before I prayed again. After that I didn’t hear anything else regarding these two things.
In my studies I discovered the thought of adultery that Jesus mentioned was a person having continuous relations with a person not their spouse and not being sorry nor willing to stop. Up until she called me I was still good to go. God getting a hold of her messed up my plans.
Amber called and told me that God had woken her up from a dead sleep and told her she needed to stop running from her and go home. She didn’t tell me the second part that He would restore her family or I might not have been so helpful. She sold everything she could and bought a last-minute plane ticket to RDU with no idea where she would stay. I promised to try to help find her a place short-term, after all she is our kids mom, can’t have her homeless in Raleigh. After numerous phone calls to people I knew that had extra space I couldn’t find her a place. That day my sister called and I told her what was happening and she said she and her husband would pick her up and she could live with them for a while. You want to talk about God’s grace on display! How many people would volunteer without being asked to take in an in-law that had torn their family apart. Separation and divorce affect the whole family, not just the immediate family.
I started taking the kids to my sisters on the weekends so they could see their mom. A group of women from my sisters church took her under their wings and mentored her on being a wife and mother. Two things that no one had bothered to teach her. Her great-aunt never married and consequently in never crossed her mind to teach my wife these things. She soon told me what God promised her, but I was very resistant to say the least. After a couple of weekends I audibly heard the Lord tell me that His promise to me was there, was I going to trust Him? That was a tough one, but He got me with this; you teach and encourage men to have faith and trust me, are you willing to put your actions where your mouth is? That was a cold slap in the face. After that it was put up or shut up, I didn’t see any other choice but to put my money where my mouth was.
Meanwhile, Amber is living life at my sisters on blind faith that somehow God will turn my heart and this thing will work out. She was having very long, completely free, counseling with a couple who had a history of marriage ministry with Family Life’s Weekend to Remember and as missionaries in China to the under ground church. The encouragement and prayers from them with her was pure selflessness. Once I made the decision to walk the faith I claimed to have things moved quick. The couple meeting with her took us both in for marriage counseling. Again, they expected nothing except to see our marriage restored. The people in my sisters church were of great encouragement and support to us.
When we sat down with our pastor and told him what we were doing you could here a pin drop in his office. He truly didn’t know what to say. He eventually gave me his blessing to split my time between the two churches as we went through the counseling process as our home church, in his words “wasn’t equipped” to deal with what we were doing. What a sad statement about the church! The very institution that God created to reflect the relationship between Jesus and the church and the church wasn’t equipped to handle a couple reconciling an impending divorce after a year-long separation. God’s timing was impecable! The divorce papers had been mailed by my attorny the day before my wife called. Two days after her plane touched down in RDU they were in my mailbox waiting our signatures. Litterally just a couple days hesitation in obedience and this would have been a drastically different story, just another statistic.
Not being equipped is true of many churches. As we’ve told our testimony to numerous individuals and congregations we haven’t been to another church that was equipped to handle this. They are pretty good at divorce care but not protecting and strengthening the most sacred covenant God created. That’s totally backwards.
One of the harder things I had to do as the husband was decide how to protect our marriage, the healing and restoration that had to take place. There were many more people speaking death, doubt and negativity over this than were encouraging, supportive and praying over us. We had people who would say ” we hope for the best” or “good luck” and the next breath talk about their fears for us. That’s the same as speaking death. The decision I came to through prayer and trusted advice was to cut out everyone who was not for us or praying for us. Everyone who was speaking fears, doubt, negativity, telling me it wouldn’t work, don’t do it or I was crazy, we cut off completely until they could change their tune. Some of those people we never had contact with again. There are some family relationships that were completely ruined, never to be revived again. What was surprising to us was the number of people in the church speaking negative over us while most people we knew who weren’t churched were very supportive. Again, how backwards is that!
A couple of things we did that helped, and I highly recommend, is Dr. Emerson’s Love and Respect and His Needs, Her Needs series. The second is going to Family Life’s Weekend To Remember. It is not at all a waste of time. This was given to us by the couple that initially mentored us as a gift. We can never repay them for their time, effort and prayers. What we do now is tell our story. We’ve told it on air at a radio station where I hosted a show. We’ve told it in churches, to individuals, couples in a private setting and we will continue to do this as the Lord brings the opportunities to us. There are others that have similar stories but they hide it like they are carrying a scarlet letter instead of sharing it as a gift to share with others in hopes that they will find hope and save their marriage and save their children and families from the heartache and turmoil that comes with it.
The second miracle is my wife was immediately healed from all the mental health issues she had been struggling with. He simple, yet hard, act of obedience brought her total healing. Some people struggling with mental health diagnosis are sometimes seeing spiritual issues affecting the mind. The biggest culprit is unforgiveness that literally poisons the mind. Others, like Saul, are afflicted due to willful disobedience, living a life counter to what they know God has directed them to live. Others the issue truly is a mental health struggle. Unfortunately mental health professionals tend to lean more to the science of medicine to treat the symptoms instead of really drilling down and trying to find out if there is a root cause.
There is more, there’s always more that we remember after we’re done telling our testimony. It’s extremely difficult to get it all in, even in 6 parts. We do hope and pray that those that have read this pass it on to those who need to read it.