Personally Speaking--Part 4
Stretching is comfortable. Ripping is pain--in a single moment my life had been ripped from my hands by the enemy. After eight years of marriage my wife informed she was leaving, taking our four children with her. I thought everything was perfect, but I was perfectly wrong. Again, the self-fulfilling prophecy rang true. I was born for rejection, but to be rejected by the one I loved and gave myself to was almost more that I could bear.
Even through the hurt, I was able this time to keep my eyes focused on my God. Through tears I would cry out to Him. Maybe He too, would abandon me. I tried to be composed on the outside, but on the inside I was emotionally bleeding to death. The house seemed so quiet--and it was. Now I was wondering who I really was again. What was I really about? I clung to God, but I still didn't know the answer and I continued to bleed. Days turned into weeks into months. Loneliness and despair at times overtook me. I struggled to concentrate at work. Still, by God's grace I managed to hang on to Him.
It was a Thursday night. I was out with several others from our church witnessing in the streets of Philadelphia. It was early autumn and the days were growing shorter. The crisp air let me know that colder days were coming--a foreshadow of not only a change of seasons, but of my life. Through all the darkness around me--the darkness of the night, the darkness of the evil, the darkness of my life, God sent one of the brightest rays of light into my life.
I was watching a couple of the men across the street as they were talking with a young man about the Lord. Not expecting it, but that still, small voice spoke. "Bill, this is who you are. This is what you're about. Continue to serve me. I'll take care of the rest. Just trust me. Your purpose in life is to glorify me. So do it! Just follow Me."
I take the qualifications for church leadership seriously and literally. According to II Timothy 3:2, 4, 5 I no longer held the qualifications for ministry, but God could still use me. God can do anything He wants, anytime He wants, with anybody He wants. My dream was to plant churches and to pastor. God's dream for my life was something different. I had to come to the point of accepting God's will and making it my own will. I believe that is what took place that night, at least to some degree. I was willing to fulfill my God-given purpose, and it centered around Him, not me.
The days were still lonely and cold, but I could feel God's everlasting arms wrapped around me to protect me from the force of the storm. I looked forward to visits from my children every other week, but when it was time for them to leave, the bleeding would start all over again. Still, the God of all comfort was with me. I couldn't have made it any other way.
There were too many memories in Philadelphia. I planned to move to Central Pennsylvania. After nearly ten years of working at the same place, I gave notice that I'd be leaving in two weeks. Working as a machinist in a worldly atmosphere was never easy, but now it was coming to an end, and I realized just how much I cared about my co-workers. I had witnessed to them over the years, but they really didn't want to hear it. Still, I was sad to leave them behind. In many ways, we were like a family. But the day had to come.
I packed up the U-Haul and made the 200 mile trip to Pleasant Gap, PA, less than five miles from the town where I grew up. I always loved the mountains and it felt good to be "back home" again. The change of scenery was nice, but after a while it became routine. Life went on, and the bleeding continued. It was necessary that I find a church where I could serve God and have Christian fellowship. That was not so easy.
Part 5 is on the way.
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