My life had completely fallen apart.
Cool darkness surrounded me. Burning tears streamed down my face. And my gut wrenched. Not with sickness, but with an emotional pain so deep, I could barely handle the grief. Wracked with sobs, I cried and cried, my bed shuddering.
Why? Why? Why? Was the only question that my mind could process. Why had all this happened to me?
I fell asleep that night, those very tears drying on my face. That emotional onslaught would repeat, dozens and dozens of times, over a period of months.
Little did I know this was what YahShua would use to begin to create a deeper sense of His Love within me.
So why was I crying so hard? I better start from the beginning.
In the early winter of 2008, I got into a very bitter argument with my wife of nearly a decade. The argument resulted in her departing the house with our youngest baby, leaving me with our four oldest children. A few days later, I had to get to work and had been unable to find a babysitter for the children. My oldest was only 7 at the time. Not thinking clearly, and still very angry with my wife, I set the children up with food for the day, locked the doors and left them home alone.
This resulted in DHS -- the Department of Human Resources -- stepping into our lives. My wife actually returned home about 15 minutes after I left for work. She was accompanied by her uncle. Her uncle was justifiably upset with me leaving the children home alone, and called the authorities. Though my wife and I would begin to reconcile over the next few days, it was too late. DHS knocked on our door later that week and slapped down an ultimatum: either I live in a separate place from my wife and children while they investigate me, or they would forcibly remove our children.
Things only went from bad to worse. While my wife and children were staying with relatives, I had my first interview with a DHS official. She told me I would need to take a parenting class and undergo a psychological evaluation before I could be re-united with my family. Rather than taking this in prayer to Abba, I flew into a rage. I refused to cooperate with DHS, which only deepened the problem.
What might have been resolved in a matter of weeks, extended into months. I finally, very grudgingly, began to cooperate with DHS. But as I began to jump through the hoops, my wife filed for separation. The unbelievable pressure that had crushed her, while I was wrangling with the State of Oregon, had cooled her heart toward me, and now divorce was a very real possibility.
In a matter of 9 months, I had gone from a relatively happy family, singing together in the evening to YahShua -- to the cold reality of a divorce. The children’s rosy cheeks, happy laughter, and bright blue eyes as my wife would pull out her guitar and we would sing praises to our Creator dimmed into a distant memory.
The darkest days of my life had only just begun. As I continued to jump through one hoop after another with DHS, restricted to seeing my now 6 children for only 1 hour a week in a Nazi-like government-controlled glassed room, I desperately tried to win the heart of my wife back. But as I brought her flowers on an almost weekly basis and took her out on dates as often as I could, there was a distance and coldness in her eyes. Her attitude communicated to me more than a million words that she could utter -- one very clear thing -- that she had moved on.
The divorce came 6 months later, just before DHS completely pulled out of our lives. But something unbelievably amazing happened. As, day after day, I unselfishly gave to my wife, trying to win her heart back, blaming myself for this whole mess, a stark reality burned into my spirit . . .
Picture this. YahShua, bearing the thick wooden stake, his beard torn from his face, his gnarled body sheathed in fresh blood. Enduring not only the incredible physical pain, he also took upon Himself condemnation that was not His to bear. Lightning bolts of pain lanced through both his arms as the Roman soldier drove the 9 inch spikes into his wrists. Hanging from the tree, He cried in an agonizing voice -- Father, why have you foresaken me?
Yet 3 days and 3 nights after this terrible death, He gloriously resurrected from the grave, and His cross had been replaced with a crown.
For the very first time in my life, I experienced a small slice of what YahShua emotionally bore on that cross. I bore the condemnation of my wife rejecting me, blaming myself for her decision, still choosing to lay my life down and give to her. After months of enduring this pain, Abba lifted the cloud from my heart and swept me with such a precious wave of His Spirit, it is even now hard to describe.
The terrible pain of rejection and condemnation gave way to a brilliant gold crown of glory, and His sweet Presence drew so close to me, I could barely stagger beneath the weight.
This is not the end of the story. In fact, this is but the very beginning. I share this testimony to give a very real example of what Abba does to create His Love within our hearts. When He commands us to love our enemies, to give to those who would hurt us, to serve even the least of our brethren, these Words are never meant to be some theoretical mental exercise. These Words are meant to live in us, to animate our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions. To manifest the only Person who can truly love without expecting anything in return.