(Debra's story is amazing and so encouraging! Read to the end and be inspired!)
I met Mike in 10th grade, he was a senior. Our relationship had its ups and downs. But before he left for the Navy we decided to spend the rest of our lives together.
Two days after graduating high school, I married Mike on June 9, 1971. Three weeks later, he was deployed for 4 months on a tour in the Mediterranean. I got my first job at a nursing home. When he came home at Christmas we went to live in Connecticut at the submarine base. As his duty came to a close, we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. We came back home moved to Kirkwood.
My sister-in-law started to share the true gospel with me more and more. She was a little too radical but I got the idea that I needed Jesus to forgive me of my past. My life, even though it was full of love, was not complete. Financial difficulties and family splits piled on more stress.
So, on December 18, 1978, I watched a Billy Graham Crusade on television. I responded to the call to commit my life to Jesus. The nightmare disappeared as peace with God invaded my heart. My life began all over again…alone in my spirituality.
I got a job to help out with income. They hired me because I had no plans for more children. What did I know of God’s plans! My husband had not wanted any more either so he went for a vasectomy in late 1979. The procedure was botched, so I became pregnant.
When your husband doesn’t want any children, their first response is to say, “Get rid of it.” I told him that this was a life that we shared inside of me and that I would sooner get rid of him than the child. That didn’t make things easier. I leaned on God. Then one day, out of the blue, we were with a group of friends and he announced that we were having a baby.
God eased me through the delivery with flying colors. My favorite Scripture at the time was “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) After two generations of boys in Mike’s family, God blessed us with a little girl. She has been the ‘apple’ of his eye ever since.
Mike and I had some very successful businesses and some that weren’t. He sold all his companies and went to work for a highway dept. My last endeavor, a bridal shop, was the reason for a lot of tension between us.
Since I was churchless, my seamstress often invited me to the gospel mission. I finally went one Sunday and never left. My eyes and ears were opened to receive the Word of God as never before. I felt as if I knew the gospel but knew nothing of His Spirit, like it says in Acts 19: “There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And as a child of the 60’s rock and roll, Christian rock helped me to release the feelings of my heart.
My shop had become unstable financially. It seemed that when I took one step forward I would fall back ten steps. Finally, God was able to get through to me and He said ‘If it meant that Mike would come to Me, would you close the shop?’ The decision was very hard but I surrendered to the will of God. And I had peace.
I closed October 30 and the following June, in the flood of 2006, the building I had leased flooded with 3 feet of water. What a mess all those white gowns would have been! God’s urging saved me from sure economic disaster.
Through this period I waited. I watched to see what God would do in Mike’s life and music seemed to be the answer to unite us again. He became interested in playing guitar, so I learned to play bass guitar and now we have a trio with our harmonica player, who has since recommitted his life to Jesus.
But I was still unsupported spiritually. I knew God was working on Mike and my impatience was getting the better of me. The past prayers on his behalf seemed to go cold. I knew in my heart that he was a good man, a man of integrity. Even his name means ‘anointed’.
Years of standing in the gap at the altar for him seemed to go unanswered. Tons of prayers by the church, deacons and pastor seemed to go unanswered. Advice from books, naming and claiming, laying on of hands over his pillow at night, all seemed to go unanswered. I ‘called things that were not as though they were’. I had even taught a class that focused on unsaved husbands based upon 1 Peter 3. I had all of the right answers. Two of the other ladies’ spouses accepted the Lord.
So, I worked harder. I made sure that ‘our’ tithes were in Mike’s name. I would speak togetherness in the Lord even if we weren’t together in church. I read the Bible out loud to dispel any darkness that might be hanging around the house. I was looking to save Mike with my strength and God doesn’t work that way. So, I figured it must be God was waiting for me to change. So I did a spiritual checkup and worked on a make-over.
I finally just stood on my faith. I boldly told God, “This is the year, 2007. This is my year. I’ve tried everything I could think of. I only have Your promises to hold on to. You said that ‘Me and my whole household would be saved’. It’s Your Word, Lord. I’m tired. It’s up to you. It’s my turn.”
January came and went. In February, Mike decided that he would move from a town highway job to the county highway department. He asked me to put his application in on a Tuesday. I dropped it off and the girl said it would go into the system. She said that he needed to submit a new one every six months, because it’s hard to get in the county government.
On Thursday, the highway supervisor called Mike for an interview. He was able to make an appointment for Monday. The interview went well and they told him they would make a decision in a couple of weeks. They called him three days later and asked him to start within two weeks.
His fellow workers wanted to know who he knew to have gotten the job. I had no doubts that it was God. At this point, Mike said it was coincidence but I could tell that he was baffled.
He came to church a few more times. Pastor had started the membership classes and Mike told me that he might join. The next Sunday he came to church and I directed him to the office. God worked it so that it was only him and pastor. He came out after service and then we went home.
Later that evening, pastor’s wife called and asked me if I was on cloud nine. I said “For what?” She told me that Mike had committed his life to Christ that morning. Unbelievable! God did it without any fanfare or tears. It was as normal as breathing. I missed the ‘hallelujah moment’. I had told someone that he would just ‘slip into the Kingdom’ and he did.
My whole life has changed…again. I have a priest in the house, a confidant in the Lord, someone to share Scripture, sermons, teachings, books and fellowship.
My testimony as ‘the wife of an unsaved husband’ has become ‘learning to live with a believer’. I’m still in awe. Just going to the Christian book store with my husband and seeing him interested and shopping is surreal.
So what does the future hold?…God’s promises. They are ‘yea and amen’ to those who believe. If the last 30 years are any indication of God within my life, I can’t wait to live the rest. God holds the future and if I stay in God’s light, the best is yet to come because of Him and there’s a lot in me to work on.
Sometimes the ‘hallelujah’ moment isn’t tears, shouting and singing. It’s as normal as breathing in and out…just like the Gospel.