Friday, November 9, 2007

Beginning the Preparation for the Wilderness

I didn't know what my life was going to be like after Paula left on that Wednesday morning. I didn't know what the future held for me, short term or long term. I only knew that I was in trouble and my life had changed. It was pretty much assured that I would be going to prison, something that I couldn't even comprehend. I was to find that the next six months of my life would be a time of preparation for the wilderness that I was soon to enter.

The loneliness in the condo was almost overwhelming at times. I had turned the ringer off on the telephone because I didn't want to deal with the media calling and asking for my comment on what had happened. I called and had the satellite TV disconnected to save on money. For the first time in too many years to remember, I didn't have a job or an income.

I dove into the Bible, spending hours on end each day reading. I had read the Bible a couple of times before, but I had never really spent "time" in it. As I read it this time, the message jumped off the page in ways I had never seen it before. I could see application of so many things in my life. I wondered why they hadn't been clear before. But the loneliness remained. Each day, I would walk. The ground was still covered in snow, so I would spend most of my time walking the plowed streets that wound through the condo and golf course community. The fresh air and beauty of God's creation surrounding me were therapy that I could never find elsewhere.

The muscles in my thighs and back would knot up each day as I spent time on my knees in prayer. Prayer is a funny thing...at least it was for me. No one had ever really "taught" me how to pray. I just tried to mimic what I had seen others do. Paula. Mom and Dad. Even the pastors that had led the church services where I had attended before. But something seemed to be missing. I would give thanks and seek guidance and strength. I would spend long hours speaking to God. And then I would go about my business. It seemed fruitless and I couldn't see any answers coming to my requests.

All of that changed after Paula came back up to the condo on Easter. We were going to go through our storage units together to see what she wanted to take back to Tacoma with her and put into storage over there. At that time, she was planning to resettle in that area. When she arrived at the condo that evening, we sat and the couch and just visited. As she talked, she said one of the most profound things I had ever heard and it changed my life and my relationship with God. We were talking about our own relationship and our marriage and our communication. Or, more accurately, our lack of communication. I've never been much of a conversationalist. In our marriage, Paula was the one who would carry the conversation. I would ask questions and then just let her talk. I loved to hear her talk about the kids, or the family or what was going on in her life or the lives of her friends. I very seldom talked about me or what was on my mind. In hindsight, I believe it's because there was so much I was hiding and burying, I just didn't want to go there.

But as we talked, she said that when people love each other, they talk to each other...about anything and everything. There is nothing held back. Sadly, I couldn't undo how I had failed to communicate with Paula during our marriage. But, the Spirit laid it on my heart that I could show God how much I loved Him by actually entering into a "love" relationship with Him through my prayer life. Amazing things began to happen. For the first time in my life, I began to regularly hear the voice of God! Each morning as I spent time with Him, He would respond to me. I began to keep a prayer journal, recording His Words to me. His love, correction, rebukes and accolades. On one of those mornings, He did something I never expected. He talked to me first!

1 comment:

Deb said...

This is so powerful, Mark! I want to know more. Did the shift happen overnight? Put me on the floor with you, in your head hearing your voice and God's. Give me some dialogue. And tell me how this changed your loneliness. Looking forward to the next chapter as always. Love and more love.