I can do everything through him who gives me strength
Jim and I were married December 15, 1985, a little over 16 years ago.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a child, but chose to marry Jim because I adored him - and wanted to be with him more than I wanted to follow God. I felt that I would have everything I ever wanted - a brilliant man (so I wouldn't be bored), a man who could financially take care of me in the way I wanted to live, and a man who loved me and who I loved in return. However, although he said he believed the Bible (including the story of Jonah and the Whale), and never put down my faith, I knew that he didn't know Jesus as His personal Savior. So - the day we got married, since I wanted Jim and what he had to offer more than a growing relationship with God, I turned my back on God, refused to pray, and walked down the aisle, --- I said I do to a man who did not know God.
In many ways, life after we were married was wonderful. We enjoyed each other and we enjoyed everything that money could buy. We traveled, played, drank champagne, ate in the best restaurants, socialized with the best people, threw lavish catered parties at our beautiful home, rode in limousines, and enjoyed the good life. We also went to church and became very involved church members at a lovely liberal church with lovely people who thought we were wonderful. We were on a great ego ride and enjoying it thoroughly. Except, two things bothered me: 1) I worried constantly about something happening to Jim and never seeing him again and 2) although, we were having fun, it was starting to feel stale and boring.
Then in 1988, Becky was born and it was at that time I realized that I needed to reevaluate my life and my relationship with God. I had also met some wonderful Christian women through the Christian Women's Club. I went to some of their luncheons and started going to Bible Studies. I rededicated my life to the Lord and dedicated Becky to God. I told God that if she wasn't going to be saved, I would rather she didn't live past whatever was the age of accountability. It would be better to lose time with her and know she would go to heaven than to enjoy her for many years on earth but lose her for eternity.
I also began to reevaluate my relationship with Jim and our lifestyle. I continued to be concerned for him and worried whenever he was a little late coming home - if he had been in an accident and I would never see him again, even in eternity.
I shared with Jim about the Bible studies I attended and how much I was enjoying them and watched Christian TV shows while he was around. I also told him about Bible studies at church. Unfortunately, he said that he would not study the Bible piecemeal. According to Jim, you could only study it as a whole from cover to cover.
I prayed for his salvation continually. I determined to live with him using I Peter 3:1-2 --- to live out my Christian life as best as I could in front of him and never to nag him. At times, that was very difficult, but I was determined.
You know, God answers prayers in many different ways. Ultimately, the church we were going to offered a Bible Study that went from Genesis to Revelation. Jim and I began attending the Bible Study together. Then, one day toward the end of the study year, Jim disappeared and despite searching for him, I could not find him. Toward the end of the day, he called me and asked me to meet him in a park off Rt 1 near the waterfront. I went to meet him and found out my prayers had been answered, but not how I expected.
Jim had gone to the park with a gun and His Bible. He intended to end his life in order to make life better for me. It seemed the money we had been living on was embezzled funds and life was about to catch up with Jim. However, God beat Satan that day. God's Word had been working on Jim's heart and His Bible was right beside him. Jim accepted the Lord as His Savior that day in 1992.
Ultimately, in December 1993, he went to prison for four years and four months.
But, God gives us gifts in the middle of the tragedies of life (even the tragedies we bring upon ourselves) - From the day Jim confessed until he went to prison, we had a year and a half to grow spiritually together and develop trust broken by his embezzlement and Becky accepted the Lord as her Savior during that year and one half.
We also went through some very difficult times while Jim was away, both financial and personal hardships, but we learned that we have a strong God to lean on.
I sometimes wonder what the results would have been if I had acted differently in the marriage and not been obedient to God after coming back to him --- I have learned that no matter how difficult it is, it is so much better to live my faith and pray and leave the answers to God. He doesn't always do things the way we expect, but he takes what he has to work with and does wondrous things with human beings like Jim and I (sinful clumps of clay). We have an amazing God and all He asks us to do is believe, live our faith, and pray.