Friday, April 28, 2006

Weekly Word for April 28 - May 5, 2006

This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak - and slow to anger; For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
(James 1: 19)

Slow to anger - - - For me, this is something that I struggle with all the time. I don’t get angry easily, but when I do . . . It happens in an instant! The emotions inside of me, just seem to overtake everything in my world! I try very hard to stop it - but before I know it - - - it has erupted!

This past week, it happened again. I didn’t mean to react, but I did. I had received an email from someone I care very deeply for. It was an email that they had forwarded along to me, from someone else. When I saw the title of it, my heart started to sink. Opening it, I started to read - all the while wishing that I didn’t! It was an email complaining about the growing cost of living in our country. It complained specifically about the price of gas. And then it told everyone what to do - so that prices would go down. When I finished reading, my heart was in my throat - and I couldn’t believe that this person had sent it along to “me”! After-all, this was the business that paid for Ted and I to have food on our table - and a roof over our head. Ted is a repairman - for gas stations!

For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Without thinking, I found myself typing a response back to my friend. I told them all the information that I knew. I tried to give them a reason to understand my position. And then I quickly sent the email off to them. Afterwards, I walked around the apartment, yelling at no one in particular. There was so much anger inside of me. “Why Lord?” I asked. “Why did they send it to me?” I continued. “And why am I so angry?” . . . .

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
(Ephesians 4: 26)

When Ted got home from work, I told him about the email. Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have - but I did. I couldn’t hide how upset I was, and watching Ted - I knew he was also. We talked a little bit, and then we let the conversation drift to other topics. We talked about the kids, his work, and what was on the television. But through it all, there was a heaviness in the air. “Why did they send it?” I wondered out loud. Ted just shook his head. And then for a moment, I saw it. There was hurt in his eyes - but there was also something more. “What would I do”, he asked, “if I lost my job?” . . .

But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord,
I say, “Thou art my God.”
My times are in Thy hand; . . .
(Psalm 31: 14 & 15a)

Looking over at my husband, my anger seemed to disappear. What was under it - was fear. It was hard not to be afraid - of the unknown that lay before us . . .

My times are in Thy hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.
(Psalm 31: 15)

It was a June day, the sun was shining - and he knew that it would be quite warm, later on that afternoon. As he left for work that morning, his mind went over the projects he was working on - and the plans for that day. As he drove, he knew he would be spending part of the day outside, inspecting some of his work. It would be a good day, he thought - as he said goodbye to his wife that morning.

The day flew by, as he watched the contractors demolish part of an old building. Soon, it was time to head home. As he drove, he thought about how the building had been taken down - and he couldn’t wait to tell his wife all about it. But as he drove into the driveway, he saw a strange car sitting there. As he got out of the car that evening, he had no clue that at that moment - his world would change - - - forever . . .

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
(Psalm 31: 9)

I didn’t know all that he was thinking or feeling - that day in June. All I knew, was that my own life was about to change. We had been married 21 years. They were years that had been full of anger and hurt - as well as hope and love. The truth was - I loved him. But more and more - the anger I saw in him - made me want to leave. And so on this day, that was the plan. I was finally going to leave him.

As I kissed him and said good-bye, I had to fight to keep the tears from coming. As he drove away - I knew I was saying “good-bye” for real. I had asked a friend to keep Jenny overnight, and so when I turned back to the house - I headed for my son’s room. He was sleeping, after working all night. As I stood in the door, I wondered if I really could do this. “How can I leave him?” I wondered. I loved him so much. But my son was already growing into a man - working full time - with a life of his own. And so, with my heart breaking, I told him I needed to leave.

It wasn’t long, before my friends showed up to help me pack. My son sat in the kitchen, lost in all that was going on. Inside of me, I didn’t know what to do - as the feelings just seemed to overwhelm me. All around me, there was activity - as my friends did their best to pack what I would need. I couldn’t stand it - I felt awful - and I ran outside and collapsed in the street.

And that’s when my neighbor, who I really didn’t know very well, came and helped me to get up. “I understand” she said. And I looked in her eyes, and realized that she really did know what I felt. “How do I leave?” “How can I stay?” Sobbing, the questions just kept pouring out of me. And then I looked back at the house - the home that really hadn’t felt like mine - in a very long time. It was time to go . . .

As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Thine eyes”;
Nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications -
When I cried to Thee.
(Psalm 31: 22)

Our lives changed that day. Mine, my husband’s, and our two children’s lives - were never the same again. He tried to get help, and went for counseling. I hoped that things would change. But they didn’t. And after two years, we were divorced.

But it only took a moment, a choice - to change our lives forever. That June evening, as my husband drove home from work, a sheriff waited to serve him papers - to tell him that I had left. As he drove, he didn’t know that his world would be shattered, by a choice that I had made.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 17 & 18)

It has been almost 10 years, since that June day. For my husband, he felt as if his world had changed with that one moment. But for me, it had been changing for years. The anger and pain of his words - the heartache of what was happening - all of it led to that one final moment, when I left him.

Since that time, there have been many changes in my life. Some of them have been wonderful - and some have been just as difficult.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.

It was such an amazing joy - falling in love with Ted. I hadn’t expected it, and neither had he. My plans had already been made. I was going to be a minister, working with a friend of mine. We would be partners, working to bring God’s healing to those who had been hurt. And then Ted showed up at the ministry, one of those - who had been hurt. His wife had left him, and his heart was broken. He came to the ministry, seeking the Lord’s help. My partner became his counselor - and I became his friend. And then - our friendship grew.

As I look back in time, I can see how things happened. But at the time, all I could see - was Ted. We had fallen in love, and didn’t know if it was “right”. We didn‘t know what was best for each other. We sought out the counsel of our pastor, begging God to show us the way to go. We prayed for guidance - and still we were in love. And then our pastor asked us to agree to be re-baptized. We were asked to give our lives over to God - and give up anything that kept us in “sin”.

We met at a friend’s pool, on that day in August. It was a warm day, but I couldn’t stop shaking as I thought about what I was going to do. “Lord, please help me” I silently prayed. As I stepped into the pool, I knew that God’s presence was with us. In that moment, as the pastor brought me back up from under the water, I felt so alive - and I wondered what it all meant.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; . . . We shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, . . .
(1 Corinthians 15: 51 & 52)

After the baptism, Ted and I sat talking, holding tight to each other. We knew that God was “with” us, and we asked Him to guide us from that moment on. Our love grew even stronger, and soon we were planning our wedding. My heart was so full of excitement, as I sat with my friend and told her all about our plans. We had asked her to perform the ceremony - to be the one to consecrate our vows. And so it never dawned on me that she was upset - or even angry with the fact that I was getting married.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, . . . We shall be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15: 52)

I don’t quite know why it all happened, but after the marriage, my relationship with my friend seemed to change. I was still working at the ministry, and Ted was working very hard - at two jobs now. He worked to repair things for the gas stations - and he was working at the ministry. Ted and I were living on the property, and we had dedicated our lives to the work we believed in. But I had changed - and so had the friendship. Ted was now a full partner in my life, and that wasn’t what my friend had planned on . . .

It took just over a year, for us to realize that we needed to leave. It didn’t matter that we had given everything to the ministry - it was time to go. Our lives were different now. Nervous and afraid - we left everything - to start a brand new life together . . .

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3: 5 & 6)

The other day, my friend sent me an email - that touched on my fears for our future. The truth is, none of us know what the future holds. Each day, each moment - can change our lives.

For Ted and I, we have been through quite a few changes in our lives. Some have been full of hurt and pain - as we faced having to say “good-bye”. Other times held wonderful surprises - of joy and love. Whatever is ahead for us, I pray that we never let go of the hand of the Lord. He can lead us through the tough times - and bring us to the Life - that is meant just for us . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

It is my hope for you as well, that you will ask Him to walk with you on the path that is before you - holding on tight to His hand - through whatever lies ahead . . .

God bless you in the week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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