As it did for Balaam, God’s word to us can come from unexpected sources.
My high school sweetheart and I were married in 1971, something we had planned on for many years. A year and a half later we divorced. I found that you cannot hold onto a butterfly too tightly or it will die. My own insecurities manifested themselves in the form of jealousy, anger and mistrust and it smothered the one I loved. Jane fled and I was devastated.
We continued to care about one another, but living together did not work out the way we had dreamed. She had moved to Colorado and then on to Alaska in and effort to run away from our failures. Sometimes I would get a note from her about things that were happening in her life.
In the card for 1974 she wrote she had given her heart to Jesus and was experiencing His love and forgiveness in her life and started attending church regularly. She was leaving shortly for Europe on a backpacking trip with a friend and she would be gone for several months.
I had begun a relationship with a girl back home and was trying to set my life back on track. While at my girlfriend’s parent’s home I picked up a copy of the Living Bible and I couldn’t put it down. As I read it, the Lord began to reveal Himself to me. I soon found myself at a crossroads knowing that I could not continue to live with my girlfriend and grow in my relationship with Jesus, whom I felt was calling me.
Jane had come back through Kansas to visit her family on her return to Alaska. She contacted me to touch base and we met to catch up and to share what God was doing in our lives. I had not spoken to her for a long time. I shared with her the dilemma I found myself in with my girlfriend and the desire I had to lead her to the Lord and then to marry her. Jane listened, offered encouragement and then left a few days later back to Alaska, but she didn’t leave my heart or my mind.
In the next weeks I began to sense that the Lord might want to restore our marriage, but in my mind I could not see how that could happen. Who in their right mind would ever walk back into a marriage that had failed and again expose their heart to the nightmarish pain of going through the possibility of another divorce? We were so very different and so very wounded.
I was young in the Lord but was quickly learning that no one who wrestles with the Lord walks away without a limp. But I tried. I looked at His Word and found that God forgave all my sins when I invited Him into my life and I tried my best to leverage that against what I felt He was asking of me.
On a warm day in the spring I climbed on my Harley Davidson and rode to meet with one of my close wild and crazy friends. In my turmoil I needed to try to find someone who would side with me and tell me that I was right and that I was free to remarry once my current girlfriend had given her life to the Lord. At this time neither my friend nor his wife knew the Lord nor much about His Word. Surely I could find the answer I was looking for. They knew me well and they cared for my happiness.
That afternoon I laid out my case as best I could. I explained that I had an encounter with the Lord and that I had invited Him into my life as both Lord and Savior and that He had forgiven all of my sins. I told them I had moved back to my parents home after being gone so many years since high school graduation. I also told them I had been praying for my girlfriend and sharing with her whenever I could, but that she had not yet been open to the Lord. Again I told them about God’s promise of forgiveness and explained that my slate was clean and I needed only to be sure I was marrying a believer.
Are you familiar with the story of Balaam from Numbers 22? Balak the Moabite King sent for Balaam the prophet to come and curse the Israelites because word had reached him about all that Israel had done against the Amorites and the Egyptians. God forbid Balaam to curse the Israelites and told him that they were a blessed people.
Balaam did not want to face Balak with this news and refused to go to meet him. Then God told him he could go, but that when he stood before Balak he was to bless these people and not curse them. Balaam rose early and saddled his donkey and rode toward Moab, but evidently his motives were not pleasing to God so the Lord sent an angel to stand in the path to keep Balaam for going any further.
Balaam did not see the angel but his donkey did and turned aside. This happened three times and each time Balaam whipped his donkey. Finally, the donkey turned and spoke to Balaam, telling him that if he had continued on he and Balaam would have been slain by the sword-wielding angel God had sent to block their path.
My friend whose counsel I sought stood in my path and delivered a message much like the donkey from this story delivered to Balaam. After hearing my story and my plans he said, “You have only one problem here: the divorce was the sin, not your marriage.”
I remember crawling back on my motorcycle and riding back home with tears in my eyes the whole way. My plan had just fallen apart and now I was going to find myself completely alone — and what if Jane thought this whole thing was crazy? What if she wanted no part of it? What was God doing in my life?
Some 5,000 miles away, Jane was waiting on the Lord for direction in her own life. She was standing in a worship service in her church in Alaska and God spoke to her, “Go back to Kansas.” Early on in her walk with the Lord she had told Him that she would go and do what ever He wanted, but “don’t ever send me back to Kansas.” When God spoke to her, she reminded Him that He said He would not send her back to Kansas. God then reminded her that it was she who had said that, not Him.
We began to communicate and eventually told each other about our experiences and what we believed God was directing us to do. Yes, it was awkward… all the “what ifs,” will she want nothing to do with this, what if she thinks I’ve lost my mind. Had I lost my mind?
On June 25, 1975, I picked up Jane from the airport in Wichita and drove her to parents’ farm, where she told them what we were about to do. They were shocked, needless to say. That next Saturday Jane and I were remarried in a simple ceremony with Christian friends surrounding us. What God has put together let no man put asunder.
To this day we still celebrate our anniversary on the original wedding date of Feb. 14. We believe God had a plan for us and it took tearing apart and breaking of hearts to prepare us for the things to come. This February we will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary, give or take a few years. We have raised three wonderful children, and served in a pastoral role for 25 years. As for God’s plan, it is still unfolding. He is not through with us yet.
– Larry King