The opening months of 2012 included not only making my own personal covenant with God, but also a fasting period, and a serious prayer asking God for help. My reader has to keep in mind that back in March 2012, and as this installment unfolds, I was still focused on what to do for work and what to do about ministry.
On March 28, 2012 I wrote the following in my journal:
Yesterday [March 27], as my alarm woke me up, I realized I was dreaming. I have no idea of the details, all I know is that it had something to do with a wedding dress.
That entry was written across three lines in my journal. That’s it. No more. No less. For me, at the time, its meaning was cryptic. Now looking back, Sheesh! It seems as plain as day. And in light of events that take place during this installment, it seems that I was being given a heads up, but back then, there was no way I saw it.
During the closing days of March, my journal has entries about correspondence from others to me, an entry where I record “I asked God to give me a church, but I thought ‘I don’t want just any church’ so I asked him to give me a church where they had good hearts… a church where I could provide for my family…”. I also wrote an entry brainstorming my ideas regarding church qualities.
April opened up and included a couple of significant events, but I didn’t write about them until the early part of May. But, I wrote in my journal on April 02, 2012:
After the experience of the last half of the month, I am believing that God definitely is moving me in a new direction.
On March 19 [Mary’s Birthday], Monday we [being the school district] came back from Spring Break, and I talked with [one of the staff] about me needing summer work and she directed me to a job posting [where there was a place wanting a bus driver]. I called, applied, completed my paper work, and began working April 1. How’s that for April Fools Day? …
As I wrote in my last installment, around Spring Break I knew that I needed work for the summer. I returned to school and spoke to that person and she directed me to a possible job. I interpreted the events as God providing for my financial needs, because of two things: 1) the job was posted while I was praying about work, and 2) I actually was able to get the job. For that provision, I was quite grateful.
My journal entries for April amounted to three. The above entry which I referred to and two other entries where I record the requests of people so I could pray for them. That is the entirety of my April journal entries. In essence, I stopped journaling, representing quite a change from what I had been doing.
May opens with me asking others how I could pray for them. The next entry is May 7, 2012 where I wrote an extensive entry regarding the previous few weeks.
Since April 1, [the day I began my additional bus driving work], I have worked every [weekend] that has now been six weeks, but it appears I will have the seventh off, for that I am thankful.
These last 37 days have been crazy. But everything seemed to come into focus last week. Up to that point, I had been wrestling with something I believed came from the LORD toward the beginning of April. I felt it was a type of April Fools joke, but then came to believe it was rather serious. So, I had a choice to make, do what I believed was communicated to me or not. …
During this time, I truly believe God gave me an opportunity to choose. To choose either an easier life with some contentment, or to choose a more difficult life with struggle but struggle for the greater eternal reward so I might fully enjoy the joy that is set before me. So I chose to forego the easier, and take the difficult.
This is where the narrative of “My Story” gets mind boggling and it is the event that kicked off not only a summer of prayers and more drawing near to God, but prayers and interpersonal dialogue that consumed me up-through the end of 2015. Over those months, I spoke with several ministers, family and friends about the events that happened in order to try and understand what was happening to me. Percentage wise, almost everyone denied what I was speaking of. But there were several who came to be a voice contrary to popular opinion, which provided opportunity to consider the events that happened.
When what I am about to share happened, in a phrase, I was scared shitless, I kid you not, not one bit, I am not joking or pulling anyone’s leg. Not once in my life had I ever considered this, and when it initially happened I truly believed what other Christians so adamantly and quickly spout, things like: “God would never do that!” “The Devil walks about seeking whom he may devour.” “Satan can masquerade himself as light.”
I have shared extensively that I was already in a prayerful condition, needing help for my life’s direction. But after experiencing what I am about to share, I mean for the first time in my life, I really wanted someone to simply listen, consider what I was saying, and provide non-judgmental feedback. Except for the few, it didn’t happen. I received nothing but demagoguery and demonstrative denunciation of everything, even received their personal condemnation and sometimes overt mockery.
In a question: when I am completely serious about my inquiries, honest about seeking council, and my personhood is upright, how the hell does that kind of response give any assistance? So, for their reaction to that moment I have little fondness for many of whom I went to, and I have little respect for their collective and individual expressions of their Christian “objectivity”.
I have written “My Story” at length to establish one thing, I don’t play with darkness. God is my light, and it is God that I sought and continue to seek. So for all the naysayers and condemners, I have no need to hear your “objectivity” any longer. I simply cannot adequately express how demoralizing it is to present my genuine request before others asking for their insight, simply to be told that it was the devil and none of God.
Experiences like these from believers have truly turned my stomach and have made me question even more about the vitality of the modern western church. The church speaks of God leading, but when things happen outside the church’s and believers’ expectations, condemnation and rejection are the first reaction. But I can say that, at the time, I felt and reacted in much the same way.
When what I am about to tell you happened to me, I rejected it and ignored it. I did my best to negate it, negotiating with God. And I sure wasn’t ready to share what I experienced with Mary. Yet events continued to unfold until I shared this moment with Mary.
When I finally opened up to her, she also rejected it and wanted reassurance. Yet, she shared things about her dreams and things started taking on an inquisitive perspective. And later in November 2012, she would receive a gift from someone that began putting things in a whole new perspective.
I checked. Double checked. Triple checked. Quadruple checked. Then checked some more. I cannot deny what I experienced and that moment changed the course of my marriage and life forever.
After I had taken the work where I drove a bus on weekends, by fortuitous circumstances another woman began working on that exact same day that I started that job. For me, I was there to do one thing, drive the bus earning money for my family. My wife’s and my family’s needs come first. I am faithful to my wife and have never cheated on her.
As we began our first day of work, another person introduced me to this lady. In that moment, something unique occurred. In that one brief moment there was something about her that piqued my interest, and it was not lust. Months later when I told Mary about this, I told my wife that it reminded me of when I first met her.
That kind of thing is only supposed to happen once. For me, it had already happened. Yet, there is was again. But as sure as I am sitting here writing this, Mary is my wife, she’s my world. I never want to hurt her.
During that month of April, I continued driving that bus, and worked somewhat closely with this other lady, helping her learn to drive commercially. From what I recall, our conversations discussed aspects of church and ministry, and things necessary to be successful at driving.
During that same time, I continued my bus driving for the school district. That particular route gave me early weekday mornings. I was on the road by 5.45am. Picked up the students and took them to school. Then waited for them until about 10am when we would finish our route.
In the months of January, February and March, I spent some rather cold days sitting in that bus, waiting alone for the students. I read books, like the biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I read and studied the Bible. I wrote extensively in my journal. Took naps. Prayed and meditated. I had never been in a position where such recuperative moments could be enjoyed.
In April 2012 after several weeks into this additional weekend driving work, sometime during one of those weeks when I was driving the school bus, I was there alone on the bus, contemplating the events and wondering what it all meant. I was in a state where consciousness is not quite sleep, and I heard something that I will never forget.
It startled me, roused me from my meditative state. As clearly as I hear my own son’s voice when he speaks to me, I heard a voice say to me “Do not be afraid to take her as your wife.”
I sat up, threw off my jacket which was serving as a blanket. Walked the interior distance of the bus looking for someone. No one. I looked out the widows for someone walking away. No one. I was scared. For weeks, I spoke nothing of that event. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more.
Somewhere in that early time of reflection, I do recall that messages from God have appeared in dreams, like God’s message to Joseph (Matthew 1.20). But as for me, I was like “What? I already have a wife!” For me, at the time, what was said seemed impossible. So, I considered what else the moment might have symbolized.
Before we left Indiana for Texas, I had studied how the New Testament incorporates portions of the Old Testament. I had concluded theologically that things were far greater than the New Testament simply replacing the Old Testament. I began to see Jesus, Paul and others not only referring to the OT but utilizing those Scriptures for faith and doctrine of Christians and the Church. So somewhere before we left for Texas, I made an agreement that I would teach the relevance of the Old Testament.
When I arrived back in Texas, I wrote several articles about theology, and eventually wrote a thesis about my religious heritage and its use of the Old Testament. I started a new website, even began publishing videos. But I did very little in the way of speaking about the Torah itself.
In my journal entry of May 7, 2012 (which I partly discussed above) I continued:
During last week, I recognized, had come to my remembrance, whatever might work best, my commitment to teach about Torah, and teach the importance of Torah for the NT, and that Gentiles need to become, at the very least, Torah reverent [having a respect for the Torah because without Torah there is no written testimony about Jesus]. I had recognized that I have not been doing this. I don’t believe I have neglected Torah, but definitely it has not been my focus. So I contemplated that on [the coming] Friday at [the Messianic Congregation] I would formally and symbolically formalize this decision.
I processed what I had experienced as impossible. Didn’t matter the Bible. Didn’t matter that God had used dreams in order to give people messages. Didn’t matter that the Bible had men with two or more wives. To me, it was impossible.
Therefore, I recognized, or probably better said I remembered my commitment about sharing Torah and sought to formalize that commitment, to make real that which I had spoken of earlier about Torah. In my next installment, I will share more about this event.
Blessings and Shalom