Tuesday, October 27, 2009

T Party Express: Jesus Take the Wheel

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. In October 2006, tests revealed that my cancer had spread to my hip, adrenal gland, and lymph nodes. I had been seeking God, but Luis, my STBX (soon to be ex-husband), was not. Through my cancer metastasis, we were both sufficiently humbled to submit our lives to Him and He changed our hearts.

My husband's commitment to Jesus Christ soon manifest as a calling to the ministry. We became involved with Pastor Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel, including the evangelism program, and Luis enrolled in its Bible College. In May 2009, less than six months ago, Luis had his personal testimony published at Things Not Known, a website run by a Calvary Chapel brother in Christ.

This is what Luis wrote about how God used me to break him:

God gave me a wife who was used by God to change me in ways I never thought possible. I became a business man and God gave me open doors that a person with my background could not get. I then became the youngest executive in the firm I worked for and soon started helping run the everyday to day operations. I was to inherit the company if anything happened to the owner and I thought life was good. However during this time my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. I still did not pray to God nor give him thanks and She was spared. In October of 2006 she was diagnosed with a cancerous steak size tumor on her hip. God began to move in my mind and began to convict me of my open rebellion (sin) against Him. So I fell on my knees and cried out to Him in my bedroom and repented (a turning away from sin) of my sin and told Him I will follow Him even if I lose the most precious thing in my life which was my wife. At that time I was not looking for God nor did I want Him in my life but he sovereignly sent his Holy spirit. I soon asked my wife for a Bible and she ordered one online. I never had read the Bible before and I used to hate to read because it left me empty, but once I opened Gods word and Gods Holy spirit helped me understand it I could not put it down. I read from Genesis to Revelation and all the study notes from April to August 13 2007.

Science had failed my wife for she had been told by the Doctor that she only had 6 months to live. The Lord had been preparing me to withstand the loss of my wife if He had sovereignly chosen to take her from me. This was incredible because everyone knew I loved my wife more than anything, but that changed when Christ Jesus Sovereignly saved me I knew I had to Love Him more than her. God gave me a peace that truly passes all understanding and I knew I was a new creature. On March 16, 2007 as I was on my treadmill I began listening to Christian music and got rid of all my secular music. I heard the song Amazing Grace and I started to weep and sob like I never had before as I was thinking about what a wretch I was even though my life was at this time very moral and many people thought about me as the nicest guy they had ever met (because they did not know my past). As I started asking God to forgive my vileness I felt a power which was the Holy Spirit that came upon me and immediately I stopped crying and knew I was at peace with the Creator of All things. In late March of 2007 my wife was told that a miracle had happened and her cancerous tumor was gone. I thanked God and rejoiced in His doing and knew that He was indeed the Sovereign Lord who has control of all things. I left my riches behind and everything else to follow Christ Jesus who is the only truth, the only way and the only life. I read the scriptures daily like the Bereans in the Book of Acts to grow in the knowledge of God so that I can encourage & edify others and become a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him.

The miracle Luis described was a completely unexpected remission without chemotherapy in early 2007. However, in November 2008, we learned that the cancer had spread to my liver and to bones and lymph nodes throughout my thoracic region. In December, I started chemotherapy and will probably remain on chemotherapy as long as it continues to contain the cancer. If it stops working and there are no other alternative treatments available, I will go home to God. It's a win/win proposition. In Philippians 1:21, Paul wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

The chemotherapy regimen I started in December 2008 was brutal on my red blood cells. I suffered from chronic hemolytic anemia, which led to a series of transfusions. Luis accompanied me to one of my transfusions in July, which affected him deeply. He began to withdraw from me, to grow cold and distant. Then he tried to convince me that continuing my chemotherapy meant disobeying God. He begged me daily for two months – in truth, he berated and badgered me – to stop chemotherapy and die. He said he would withhold his love until I gave him what he wanted – my swift death and my 21-year public employee pension. Not surprisingly, he eventually confessed that God didn't want me dead, but he did so he could start a new life with a new wife he already picked out at work, along with my retirement savings to buy her a house.

Understandably, this turn of events was extremely painful and burdensome to me, in addition to the weakening effects of anemia. For no physical reason that my doctor could discern, at the same time I became turbocharged with an unflagging energy that has not abated. I attribute my energy to God, who has sustained me with His peace, strength, joy and hope even as my husband failed me.

Fly is a song by Jars of Clay that tells the story of a couple close to the band that had to face separation because of the wife's terminal cancer. Their farewell is told from the point of view of the husband, who holds tightly to his beloved wife until it is time to release her to God. For Luis and me, the song used to symbolize our deep love and commitment to each other and to God.

I don't know definitely why Luis changed so radically and he will not explain it himself, other than that he felt trapped and suffocated, but I believe that Satan is working to break him. He has abandoned not only me but the ministry and our family, which includes my son whom he helped raise for the past nine years and my handicapped brother, who is dependent upon us. Although I offered repeatedly to accompany him, Luis refuses to seek pastoral counseling or any other type of couples counseling.

God hates divorce and Luis knows it well, but he is rushing headlong towards that goal. Marriage is the relationship that Christ compared to His love for the church. But Luis is a Calvinist and believes he cannot lose his salvation. California is a no-fault divorce state and there is nothing I can do to contest the dissolution of our marriage. To be blunt, since he repeated daily for two months that he wants me dead and out of his way, I want him removed from my earthly life as soon as possible and forever. I must act as the Bible commands since I do not take my salvation for granted and I will likely face God's judgment before Luis does. My understanding of scripture is that I cannot be a consensual party to divorce without dishonoring God.

I feel the entire range of human emotions, chief among them anger and confusion, but I cannot hate Luis. I fear for his weakness and pray for him to be strengthened by God. Man's weakness is not a reflection upon God but a manifestation of our sinful nature. I must forgive Luis, even as I navigate an unknown future without him. And so our roles are reversed. I am letting go of Luis and pray that he finds his way safely to God, who may reunite us as brother and sister in heaven.

I'm trying to have a bit of fun with my T Party Express, but I never forget who is driving this train.

Previous stops:

Train in Vain by the Clash (1980).

It's My Life by Talk Talk (1984).

1 comment:

holland said...

Hello, dear Terrie -- I was listening to Hugh Hewitt's radio remembrance of his frequent guest host Dean Barnett, who died one year ago today. Just to fill in some blanks about his life, I searched Dean's name and saw your comment on Hot Air's blog about Dean's passing.

I was very touched by what you said, and realize what a profound person you are now having read a few of your recent entries.

I too am a woman living in Cali, love animals and our country. If you would derive some fun and comfort being email-buddies, I would greatly enjoy it.

All my best,
Holland VanDieren
South Pasadena

oh.holland (at) gmail (dot) com