I had no idea what Heather was going through, so it didn’t help matters that she was relying on good ol’ DH. I’d heard about post-partum depression before, but didn’t understand how real it was. Heather wasn’t enjoying being a new Mom as she should have, because she didn’t ever have time to recuperate and regroup after the troublesome pregnancy. She had wanted a joyful experience like the ones you read about, but instead she had almost died. To add insult to injury, her ovarian problems later in the pregnancy were excruciatingly painful. Then, she came home with two babies (Bee and me).
One thing I’ve learned since then is that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle (at least not if we lean on Him). Heather and I didn’t have a marriage centered around God at that point, and certainly had no clue that we weren’t Christians. We both grew up going to church every week. Heather had even gone to a Catholic school. Some of our problems were based on the fact that we thought this was what it meant to be a Christian. We had no idea what a comfort it could be to really worship God and trust in His plan. We believed in Jesus, or at least said we did, yet we had not put our trust in Him as our personal savior. Satan even knows about Jesus!
Up to this point, I thought I could spend eternity with God if I were a good person on earth. If were a good person, I thought I could get to heaven. I believed that Jesus is the son of God, so surely I was a Christian, right?. Heather and I didn’t discuss it much, but I think she was in a similar walk. I had a false sense of empowerment in thinking I could earn my way to heaven. I still lived with the guilt of things I had done wrong, and that was a nasty feeling. I knew God was good, yet I didn’t trust in His gift of the sacrifice of His Son as being sufficient and perfect to save me.
I think Heather thought we could make everything just fine on our own. After all, our great love had won many battles. How disappointed she must have been that the love she had looked for in me was not enough to make everything good. What a let down it was that I made mistakes and wasn’t always supportive. I had put on a good front when we were dating, but now she saw some of the real “me”.
When she reached a low point in these post-delivery months, she was visiting a friend one day and noticed a Bible laying open on the table. I don’t know what the conversation was, but God sent this person and this message to her. Heather bought a Bible and started reading it, probably as a last resort. After all, nothing else was bringing her out of the doldrums. Not even a new baby, and especially not me! The more she read, the more she wanted to read. God spoke to her in the most fascinating ways. She could randomly open the Bible to any page, and the passages in front of her seemed to relate to whatever was troubling her that day.
Another friend of hers talked with her about Bible Study Fellowship. Heather began attending and studying, and got hooked on the word of God! Within two years, she was teaching kids at BSF about Jesus, and God called her to work on me. While I thought it was great that she was enjoying BSF and taking Bee with her, I was focused on the earth. Gradually, she was able to plant the seed that God has a perfect plan, and we can’t improve on it. God had decided to soften my hard heart, and He used Heather to serve Him in that conversion.
Everything she told me made sense. Was the answer really this easy? I started thinking about God and listening to Christian radio in my travels. Why wouldn’t God’s plan be perfect? What had made me think I was powerful enough to improve on God’s gift to me? How could I be so prideful to think that I could earn His friendship and make Him decide to save me, when I fail so often? After all, He is the creator! Creation didn’t create itself, so God surely is all-powerful. And if God created the world, couldn’t He save me without my help? All He was asking me to do was accept salvation by faith in the saving grace freely given to me through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. What greater love could God have for us than to send His Son to carry the burden of our sins? We are like Peter, James, and John, in the Garden of Gethsemane. We fall asleep in our service to Him, yet He was still willing to die to save us.
I heard a radio personality say “Don’t be amazed that there is only one way to God. Be amazed that there is a way at all.” We fall fatally short of God’s standards. He sets the bar too high for us to make it on our own. A pole vaulter or high jumper can only go so high, before failing to clear the bar. Anything higher than that would require more than their best effort, on the best day of their life. Our lives are very much like that.
A message on the radio one day in the summer of 2005 finally sunk in. The message was that the kingdom of heaven is like membership in a club. God would like us all to join, however He created us with free will. If we want to join, all we have to do is ask. If not, all we have to do is fail to ask. The message was clear.
I told him I wanted to join, and that I put my life in His hands. I told Him out loud that I accept His gift of the sacrifice of His son to cleanse me from the wrongs I had done. At that moment in June of 2005, driving down the highway with tears in my eyes, a flushed feeling went through me from head to toe. God put the Holy Spirit in my heart to stay and guide me. To this day, every time I pray to Him in thanks for this gift, I get the same feeling.
Our marriage now has a new focus. We praise God for all of the blessings He has given us. We still complain, because we are human. We still fail, because we are imperfect. We still have problems, because we can be selfish. “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.” Romans 8:18 NLT. At the end of each day, we have peace in knowing that God is perfect and rescues us. He assures us that we are saved, and we will see each other when we get there. The guilt for our past failures was left at the foot of the cross. Cakesie’s Godfather once told me “It’s not where you’ve been, it’s where you’re going.” So true!
Regarding marriage, I’m surely not an expert. I failed miserably the first time around. Now I know that a marriage centered around God is better. We are not as strong and self-sufficient as we would like to think. God knows what is best for us, and when He gives us the blessing of a loving relationship He expects us to appreciate it. He wants us to know that if it ever seems like more than we can handle, we can lean on Him. Because He is perfect, our spouse is His perfect gift to us. Many times, my weakness may be Heather’s strength (and vice-versa). If we both come up a bit short, He fills the gaps.
Some of you have asked about my sons. I have two sons from my first marriage, and will refer to them as “Bobcat” and “K.R.” Bobcat is 30 years old and married. K.R. is 28 years old and married, with one daughter (yes, I am a grandpa). Here’s the cool part! They were raised by my old self, but have recently been called by God despite it. About two years ago, Bobcat professed his faith in salvation through Jesus Christ in front of his church congregation. Shortly before that, K.R. began going to Bible Study Fellowship with me on Monday nights, and has been on fire for God ever since. Recently he asked me for a list of ways that we have taught Bee about Jesus, so he could start working with his little girl. Next fall, he is going to be in a leadership position with the BSF children’s program. I praise God for bringing these grown men to trust in Jesus. They sure didn’t have a good example from me while they were growing up.
Next time, the path to being debt free.[print-me/]