This week’s blog is in celebration of God’s faithfulness on this 40th wedding anniversary. My marriage is a testimony of God’s faithfulness. I can truly say that if it had not been for the Lord on my side where would I be?
I separate my marriage into two parts – AC and DC – before Christ and after Christ. We got married on July 9th, 1977 believing in God but not knowing God. Consequently, we did not know or understand our God-ascribed roles of husband and wife. I also was conformed to the world’s culture. If I was earning more than my husband and could take care of myself why did I need to stay in a relationship, particularly when I believed my husband was allowing his family to take advantage of him. So, after 4 years, I left the matrimonial home and went out on my own, leaving not only my husband but a beautiful 2-year old son, Dennis O’Neil. I was to be allowed to keep him on weekends. Prior to leaving, my husband gave his life to the Lord and tried to convince me that the Lord was not going to allow me to leave. Of course, with my stubborn and determined self, that made me even more committed to leaving. We were separated for 4 years and I had every intention of filing for divorce. Having found the Lord, my husband Dennis was equally intent that the Lord was going to bring us back together. Suffice it to say, I thought he was delusional!
During the 4-year separation, I met and “fell in love” with who I thought then was the love of my life. He was the world’s model of success and was on the verge of separating from his wife. What kind of sealed the deal for me was when I became pregnant and he showed full commitment to me and our newly born son, Jorge Steven. He went shopping in Miami for baby stuff :). Which man does that? He was also in the process of building a beautiful house in the hills and we would all live there happily ever after. But God!!
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the Lord has His own thoughts about our lives. Psalms 139:15 says that God wrote down everything concerning us even before we were actually formed in our mother’s womb. Add to this the fact that my husband and other prayer warriors had been praying in agreement about God’s word to Dennis that our relationship was going to be reconciled. The Lord had even gone further and shown Dennis he was going to bless us with a baby girl and nothing could change his belief that God was going to make all of this happen. Well, with all of this going on, my dolly house got mashed up with the sudden death of my intended new husband from acute lymphocytic leukaemia within a matter of 2 days; having been evaluated 1 week before as a 100% healthy candidate for life insurance. My heart was crushed. It all happened so suddenly. I went into depression and self-pity. I even had thoughts of suicide. But my concern for the future of my 3-month old son without me around to care for him kept me from following through with my death wish. I grieved deeply and felt totally alone. Then God!!
There were two Christian cashiers working in the pharmacy I managed and we had become quite close during my tenure. About one month after the loss of Steven’s father, one of my cashiers, Clover, invited me to have Steven blessed at her church – Arlene Gardens Gospel Assembly. I thought this would be a good idea but also felt it would be in bad form to just show up at the church on the day of the blessing having not visited there before. So, the week before the scheduled blessing I decide to visit and that was the turning point in my life!! Pastor Glenn Thompson, of blessed memory, preached a message on the love of the Father. Remember, I was feeling alone, dejected, abandoned and like I was being punished. As I heard about the love of the Father and the comfort of his compassionate nature I felt accepted and beloved. I wanted that love to be with me for the rest of my life and I surrendered my life to the Lord in May 1985. Now God!!
Of course, eventually Dennis became aware of my decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. However, I was still in mourning and emotionally I was not ready for a reconciliation. Wisely, the ladies in my new church family said there was no rush. I should just relax and build my relationship with the Lord and He would guide me when it was the right time to reconcile. I did just that! Gradually, the Lord ministered healing and comfort to my heart and a renewed desire for life. One day I was in the bathroom and remembered the words of a verse but didn’t know where it came from in the Bible. I asked the Lord for the chapter and verse and something popped in my mind. With excitement, I looked up the scripture reference that had come into my mind and there it was!! The same verse I wanted to find. That was my confirmation that God was hearing me and was interested in speaking to me. God was in fact real!! Awesome God!!
By December 1985, after six months of getting to know each other all over again, Dennis and I determined it was time to bring the family together. God had moved upon his heart concerning Steven and he accepted him and loved him as a second son. As we sought to find a place to rent, the Lord showed me a vision of a red clay tiled roof. Every time we went to view somewhere and it did not have a red clay tiled roof I said this is not the house God has provided for us. Well, when we eventually found the house with the red clay tiled roof on Merrick Avenue, the owner was not available and the person left in charge of renting the house was pessimistic regarding whether or not the owners would be willing to rent to us. I believe this is why the Lord had shown me ahead of time so that we could stand in faith. It offered us the opportunity to pray together and claim the place that would be our first home together with Christ in the midst. God watched over His vision to make it come to pass and because of our faith in Him the house became ours for 2 years!!
Since the reconciliation, the after-Christ phase of our marriage, the Lord has delivered me from condemnation and guilt through confession and belief in His Word in Romans 8:1. The Lord has also delivered me from being oppressed by a familiar spirit. Steven’s father vowed, in jest at the time I felt, that if he died before me he would come and haunt me so that I wouldn’t be able to live happily with anyone else. Well, he may not have meant it seriously but the enemy latched onto that vow and I had to be delivered from demonic oppression. After many years of struggle, we are victors. God has proven Himself faithful to us as a family time and time again. In addition, He blessed us with two daughters – Debra who was shown to Dennis during our separation and Cristina who was prophesied to me as a blessing from the Lord for my faithfulness (she was born when I was 42 years old).
There is so much more that could be shared. Maybe one day I will write a book about the full journey. But for now I just want to acknowledge that where we are on this 40th wedding anniversary has nothing to do with us. We have nothing to boast about. It is God who works in us to choose to do His will and that which is pleasing to Him (Phil. 2:13). It has everything to do with the faithfulness of God and the fulfilling of His purposes!! Blessed be the Lord!!