I hinted recently that I would tell the story of my faith. I am not quite ready for that, yet.
I was searching my archives for another story in my life that almost seems even more important to me, trying to see if I had ever written about it. I know a few people who visit here have heard this story, but since I can’t find anything in my archives about it, I thought I’d share this with you tonight.
It was the day after my wife had left me for another man, nearly five years ago now. For three solid weeks, I had known something was up. I spoke with my wife about it, and she denied anything was going on. “We’re just friends” was the common response. Three weeks later, “just friends” left their respective spouses and joined each other, living together, in front of my daughter. (Sidebar: I can forgive a lot, but the fact that they lived together without being married, in front of my daughter, for some reason, I still have trouble with that)
Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, three weeks later….
My wife of nine years left me for a man she hardly knew. The man she left me for, left his wife of three years and his two month old daughter, for a woman he hardly knew. Throughout the separation and then divorce, I heard the words, “I never loved you, Tom”, or was told that my wife and her new man were “soul mates”, and that nothing, even marriage sanctified by God, could have stopped what happened. Really……
Now, thinking about that just makes me laugh. Imagine, soul mates are more powerful than God. Okay, I think you’re a bit whacked in the brain, but if that’s what you believe, find out for yourself.
So, we are back to the day after my wife left me. I worked out of my home then, but had recently been fired from my job of nine years, because a young man I recruited and trained lied to my boss about something I had said. My mindset the day my wife left me was not good, having this new betrayal fresh in my mind. Already, even before my wife left me, I was asking God what was going on, in regards to the job.
But that day after she left me, I was utterly broken. I had promised God I was going to change as a husband not five months earlier, and in truth, my wife told me she had noticed a difference. It didn’t matter, apparently. I wasn’t the best husband, and I knew it, yet somehow, change within me had actually occurred, and she had noticed it. All this was bouncing around in my mind, like a wrecking ball trying to break through a brick wall. It finally broke through late in the morning.
I screamed at God. I raged at Him. I told Him I didn’t understand. I said to Him, “I gave my heart to You, I gave my life. I promised you I would be a better husband, and I was! She even said so! I worked hard at my job, and some ass just laid me out to dry, and caused me to lose my job! And now this?!!!!!!!”
Then I rambled on, out loud, for about ten minutes, screaming, pleading, saying things I don’t even remember.
But these words I do remember.
“God, why have you abandoned me!!” I screamed as loudly as I could. Then I broke, tears flowing down my face. I was utterly spent, there was nothing more I could say, my God had left me. I have never felt so utterly alone in my life.
I do not know how long after that the phone rang. It wasn’t more than a minute or two, but time does not register to a man who has lost everything, and has suddenly realized his God has abandoned him.
I seriously thought about ignoring the ringing. I almost stepped away from it, wanting to run away from it, not wanting to talk with anyone. I had not told anyone about this yet, not even my parents. It had been over twenty-four hours since she had told me she was leaving, and I had spent a full day alone with that in my heart, in my mind.
I do not know why I picked the phone up, but I answered. On the other end was a fellow named Brett. We knew each other a little bit, as he had been in my small group for new believers. But we weren’t close. In fact, Brett had never called me before this. As I answered the phone, he said hello, and then paused. What came next still sends chills up my spine.
“Tom….I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know why I am calling. It’s just that it’s been on my mind all morning to call you, and I kept putting it off, until just now. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, about you, and I felt so led to call you.”
Long pause on my end. Here is one thought my mind silently spewed forth. “What in the hell?”
So I answered him, “um, okay”
He then asked me if everything was okay. I said, yeah, sure, still not wanting to tell him what was going on. It was the closest to a live definition of “surreal” I could ever give. So he stayed on the phone, asking me how things were, what was up with me lately, until finally, I broke. Through tears, I told him my wife had left me the day before. I didn’t tell him what I had just said a few moments earlier. How could I?
He listened, that’s what I remember most, besides the fact that he called at all. It was like he was the ear of God, not just seeing my tears, but HEARING them.
I don’t even recall how long we talked. All I know is that phone call was not so much from Brett, as it was from God.
How do I know this? I know it because of what Brett said. “I don’t even know what to say, I don’t know why I’m calling”.
I know it because Brett had never called me before. In fact, before he called me, he called his wife, and told her what he was experiencing, which to me, is just about the strangest thing I had ever heard. Brett was a traveling salesman at the time, and had to make the call from his car. He actually pulled over to the side of the road to do it. But we have a witness, Brett’s wife, who can recount what Brett said to her, and the advice she gave him. All of that took place before I said what I said to God, before I accused Him of abandoning me.
You see, it had to occur before that, because as I said, it hadn’t been more than a minute or two since I had said it before Brett called. And he had been bothered by this all morning long, well before I even started screaming at God.
Now, you may believe this was all a coincidence. I leave that up to you. But to have been a part of it, I am left with absolutely no doubt that God not only heard me cry out to Him, but He answered me as well, saying, “I haven’t left you, your wife left you. I am still here.”
That moment in my life is a defining moment. Whenever I doubt, I think of that cry, and of Brett’s call, God’s answer to my question. When times are hard, when I want to scream out at God again, I think of that call. And when I am in pain, be it physical, or emotional, always that call reminds me of how close God really is. There are no doubts anymore about How God will keep me. I know now He will never abandon me, nor forsake me. I have physical proof of it.
Brett and Sherrie (his wife) are always nearby now in my heart, and whenever I see them, I think of that day. Sometimes, I think of that day with tears in my eyes. But these tears are of thankfulness, and of hope. Brett has been my best friend for almost five years. I guess that's just another part of a gift God gave me nearly five years ago.
Brett and I talk about that morning from time to time. We are both still amazed by it. And the funny thing is, I don't know if there are two men who are closer than we are to each other. I look around in my church, and I see lots of men talking with each other, about the job, the weather, and maybe some deeper things. But Brett and I are on a level few men ever approach, and have been ever since that morning long ago, when God answered my question with a phone call. Thank you God, for answering me, and for sending Brett and Sherrie.