It is January 13th, 2009; the day of my birth. As to events that first week, I did give my letter to Kim Sprague that morning. She read it while I silently watched, and I do believe there was a bit of mysticism as the common bond of God being in both of our lives became evident. I’m sure Kim felt something that must have truly been soulful deep; she had prayed for me and it worked! You see there was something that I had not been aware of at the time.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, Kim was attending the School of Ministries at New Hope, late in 2008, and through May of 2009. She had taken a class in evangelism and witnessing. In this class her teacher, Ron Rand, requested his students to list those family members, friends and acquaintances that each student felt they would like to see come to Christ. Kim wrote my name down, along with a few others. Ron then asked the students to select one from that list that they most wanted to receive salvation. Kim circled my name, and then she began to pray.
It is so important that you all know in your heart that you are in God’s service at all times. And that you can do God’s miracles as well and as easily as any Apostle. It is faith, and James addresses faith in noting that, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
What is being said here is that we are all called to something more than personal faith. Not to sit with our faith alone, but to put it into play. To make use of what God has so generously given us – our gifts from God – and to submit to God’s plan for you: in the service of your brothers and sisters. God used His gifts of love and patience – blessed upon Kim – to find a way for me to come home to Him.
Kim suggested church for the coming Sunday, and it seemed right to me. That’s what led me to New Hope Ministries, a non-denomination (Charismatic) church, where I would receive a tremendous amount of education over the next three years.
For my wife, Kathryn, it was a much more difficult process; for her, not for me. I mean, this was a woman who had spent the last thirty-four years of her life running away from God so as to please my perceptions and personal dogma. Kathryn struggled hard in the last several years to return to Him while keeping her journey away from my critical venue. In its simplest of forms, it meant singing in the choir at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Naples. This way it would look to me as if she was enjoying singing and the church stuff was secondary or not at all. She’d con me into coming on Christmas Eve or on Easter. Otherwise she was alone. Now, here I am, unannounced, handing her the letter I wrote. Kathryn was quite unprepared. Now words of mine can express how unprepared better than Kathryn’s own, and so I will let her continue.
By the year 2003, I had been married to Reese for 29 years, and where was I in my marriage, my motherhood, and my walk with God? I was actually going through the motions, hoping somewhere along the line, something would click, and I would suddenly and painlessly find myself where I wanted to be. What I wanted to be was walking with God, as I had done from the age of six through twenty, but that was impossible, since I had married Reese. He was determined not to share that part of my life, so there were two choices: walk alone or not at all.
For the next twenty-nine years I walked away from God, and that was pretty scary. I became a workaholic; trying to find my self-worth through hard work. I drank too much. I partied beyond measure. I treasured “things”, experimented with New Age ideas, and read tarot cards for all of my friends. I consulted a psychologist when depressed and took medications to numb it all (didn’t even tell Reese about the meds.) …..nothing was working. I was on empty.
So by 2003, except for Reese, and Miles, I had no joy. So, I decided to throw in the towel and join a church by myself. I had reached a dead end. Reese would not change, so I would have to go my own way if I truly wanted a relationship with God. I joined the First Presbyterian Church and sang in their choir.
I managed to get Miles to join the youth group at the church; while he was still in high school. This was a major task, because, of course, I got the “Dad doesn’t believe in God or go to church, why do I have to?” My answer was simple,
“Because I said so. Do you want to drive yourself, or do you want me to take you?”
Finally, some guts did appear as I struggle to make my dream a reality. Miles went. He made friends, and he went on two mission trips to Mexico; building homes. I was making progress with Miles, but not with Reese. He was just the same: “No way, no how.”
By 2008, Kim Sprague, Reese’s assistant, was also working for me at my women’s clothing store on Saturdays, and she became a blessing in more ways than I would realize. She had a natural talent for display, a joyful nature, and became part of the “girls” at the store. After a year or so, she started to withdraw somewhat from the group. Kim had started taking classes at her church. She was in the School of Ministries. Kim was always reading, or studying a course, and in late fall of 2008, Kim met her future husband.
Kim’s announcement at the beginning of January 2009 came as quite a shock to us all. She proclaimed that God had told her and J.P. that He wanted them to marry; though they had only known one another for a couple of months. Well, I was a Presbyterian, raised as a Lutheran. We do not hear from God, and what we cannot understand, we fear. The girls at the store were going to get to the bottom of this folly. Reese was confused, and more than willing to get into the fray. He called Kim’s mother at one point to seek out the sense of it all. Little came from that exercise. And then one morning Reese walked into our bedroom, while I was relaxing and reading, and handed me a letter he said he had written the night before.
As I read the letter, a million things went through my mind. What was I reading? I mean, Reese is talking about God. How is it that Kim is leading Reese to our Lord, and not me? Is there something about her he likes better than me? I took a deep breath, continued to read, and took a step forward not knowing where this was leading, and praying that all of my controlled work was not now in peril.
What a bumpy ride the next few weeks. That Sunday of the 18th of January, Reese, Kim, J.P., and I went to service at Kim’s church, New Hope Ministries. Reese did not want to go to my church. In his mind it was too worldly, too hypocritical. The most amazing thing took place during that service. There was an “altar call”, and Reese slid out the row we were in, and went forward; accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior from someone he had never met. Kim, JP, and I stood there stunned, with tears streaming down our faces. God is so amazing! He truly can and does move mountains!
I was no longer in a mock battle to save my family’s soul, God took care of that. But I was still at war. I sang my two Sunday services at First Presbyterian; after all, I did not want to leave the nest, and I wanted to make sure Miles stayed in the youth group. I then went with Reese to New Hope at their 6:00pm service on Sunday to have church with him. Reese went with Kim and J.P on Sunday mornings, and again with me on Sunday evenings; amazing. This arrangement progressed for the next two months; during which time Reese went to a class on the Introduction of the Bible; as he had never read the bible before.
Reese had truly changed. He looked at me through the eyes of love for the first time in some thirty-five years. He was patient, he was kind, and he listened; even to my ramblings. He was present with me and not in the next room.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Unfortunately, after all those years, I had built a wall of protection, and it wasn’t ready or willing to come down. But like Jericho, God had plans. The battle cry from Reese was, “I’m not going back”. Reese was referring to our contentious relationship at this point. He clearly saw who he had been and who he was now. Reese clearly felt God’s intervention and understood what had taken place. He knew the differences, and had no intent on going back to his former self. I, on the other hand, clearly had fears of what was before me and struggled with my next step. Whenever I resisted I could count on hearing, “I’m not going back.” It began to sink in that Reese truly did mean it.
Like the sound of the shouts at Jericho, the wall came down. We had a short, though poignant, conversation one evening in which Reese asked if I had ever walked on a balance beam. Yes, I had, and he noted that there are two sides to dismount from: the left or the right. You cannot remain indefinitely on the beam.
At some point you must choose a side on which to get off. The question, of course was, which side, Kathryn, do you choose? Our new life or your old one? I had finally gotten my wish: for God to be present in our family. It came not in the manner I had thought it would or should, but it was now before my eyes and within my grasp. I had to get down from the beam on God’s side.
We both had to open our hearts and our minds to what God wanted to teach us. We had done things our way and had failed miserably. Now He was in charge, and neither of us were going back. It has been and still is an amazing journey with God. We have grown closer with each other and with Him. I now realize it’s not the final destination or goal that’s important; it’s the journey you take that counts. And it only counts if you take it with Him by your side.
God Bless and Love