I’m officially retired from teaching…

…which means I’m full-time writing from now until the Rapture.

My last official day of teaching was the last day of the school year, which in our district was today, May 25th. De facto, my last day of teaching was yesterday, as the alternative school I ran doesn’t meet on Fridays, and in reality I’m not quite done with my old job yet, because I still need to finish some paperwork, turn keys in, that sort of thing. 

But today is the celebration day. (All right, I celebrated all week, mas o menos. And by celebrating, I mean I made a point of visiting with the two dozen or so teachers in the district to whom I owe the most and who I will miss the most.) 

So, that part of my life has now ended. But the Lord brought me to Him for what I can do now on His behalf (and, of course, because He loves me and wanted me saved). He put me in the seed of an English teacher and journalist. He gave me a first-rate education which, although based in math and music, included enough writing and training to suffice. He gave me a career in music education that prompted me to do an inordinate amount of writing. He gave me a love for story telling, both verbal and written.

And then… He saved my eternal soul.

In 2010, God brought my high school sweetheart Melissa back into my life. (The intervening years make a novel on their own. The short version: she was a couple years behind me in school. We were inseparable when we were together, but when I went to college…when she moved to Missouri and then to the California central valley…when I moved to Idaho, her insecurities from a lifetime of abuse kept her from feeling comfortable with a long-distance relationship. After six attempts at being a couple, I’d moved to Boise and was sharing my life with a woman who I was with mostly because she reminded me of Melissa. She was in Fresno, dating a man who reminded her of me. In October 1992, she called me out of the blue and – in retrospect – made a cry for help, expecting her white knight to ride to her rescue again. 

Had I understood that, and had I known what I know now, and had I had the sheer guts to leave the relationship I was in at that time, I would have said something like this: “Melissa, I will gladly come get you. But if I do, we need to get married immediately – in Fresno so your mom can be there, if you want, or in Reno en route – so that I know you’re planning to stay this time, and I haven’t thrown away another relationship for a seventh failed attempt to make what we know we both want to have together. Now, is that a deal? And if so, ‘Melissa, will you marry me?'” I didn’t understand, know, or have the guts. So I said something about focusing on the relationships we currently had, and that was the last I heard from her for eighteen years. She married the man she’d been dating and had three sons; I married the mother of my children a few years later.) 

Back to the current story. God brought both of our marriages to acrimonious endings in 2008, and via Facebook Melissa’s little sister swooned that “it must be fate!”, not understanding the Hand of God yet. (She would become a Christian later, too.) Far too quickly, I wrote Melissa a letter; far too quickly, she answered me…and right in time, God intercepted her letter, so I never got a response from her (she must not care any more) and she never got an answer back (he must not love me any more). A year and a half of absolutely necessary healing went by. We both had one serious relationship in that time period, in order to help us heal from the damage of our marriages. Then, in mid-July of 2010, she sent me an email. I stared at it for fifteen minutes, disbelieving. I answered, God allowed us to rekindle the friendship, and we spent a great deal of our phone, text, and messaging time on each other for the next several weeks. After two decades apart, though, I was rebuilding a friendshipTurns out, she knew better even then.

In mid-August, she was due to take her sons from her home in Laramie, Wyoming, towards her ex-husband’s outside of Fresno, and they exchanged the children at the midpoint in beautiful Wells, Nevada. (Sarcasm alert.)  We decided to try to meet for dinner in nearby Wendover before she drove home the next day. Again, I thought I was meeting an old friend, knowing our history of trying to maintain a long-range relationship. But when I saw her again for the first time, and our eyes met, and there was a stability in them I’d never seen before? I started making plans to marry her and move her to Idaho with me. 

In the meantime, however, we had long and deep conversations about our religious differences: she was born again, and I wasn’t saved at all. I was willing to overlook that defect in her personality because I loved her that much. She, on the other hand, knew the scriptural conjunction against marrying a non-believer, as Paul told the Corinthian church in 2nd Cor 6:14 →

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

In fact, her own pastor wouldn’t officiate the wedding. She found a different man of the cloth who was willing to meet with the two of us. I learned from her only after my own salvation that this pastor who married us did so because he sensed that she would be the instrument of my salvation, and that we would do great things together for God. All I knew is that he agreed to wed us, and in December of 2010 we were married. 

Flash forward to June 2013… which we’ll continue tomorrow morning…

(In the meantime, I want you to think about the moment of your salvation. Did you feel anything when the Holy Spirit came to take up residence in your soul? Scripture tells us there is a single moment of conversion for every man or woman who comes to Jesus Christ for salvation, whether you feel that change or not. But not everyone feels that moment as – well, momentous. Mine was notable for the sense of having my questions answered, but I didn’t feel anyone come into residence, as I’ll describe tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, recreate your moment of salvation in your mind. You should be able to pinpoint that moment, even if it wasn’t a sensation you felt at the time. We’ll discuss that moment tomorrow in this spot. 

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