One man’s heartbreaking story shows just how much each of us need God.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says that there is a time for everything. I have experienced my share of “a time to weep” in my life. My hope is you will learn from my experiences and not make the same mistakes.
At the ripe old age of 19, I thought I knew the difference between right and wrong. If I actually did, I wasn't pursuing what was right. I was fresh out of the U.S. Army and sexually involved with a woman two years younger than myself.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Growing up, I was never given the proper tools to live as God intended. Being raised a Catholic, I had attended Sunday school Bible classes, received my first holy communion and, as a youth, had been confirmed a Catholic. But I still did not know God, and it felt like He did not know me.
I'm pretty sure we had a Bible lying around the house, but it was never opened by anyone in the family. If you were living under my father's roof, you went to church every Sunday morning. You saw a priest (who sat behind a screen) almost every week in order to confess your sins, even if you were fairly certain that you committed no sins that week.
Repentance was generally in the form of rote prayers: “a hail Mary” or “our Father”. The bigger the sin, the more repetitions of each were required. The “mortal” sins supposedly carried greater consequences than the small ones in Catholicism. But once your prayers are said, you have supposedly "wiped your slate clean".
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality”
(1 Thessalonians 4:3).
All I knew was that as a teenager my hormones were raging and I could not tell you what was love and what was lust. I am almost positive that my sins with that young lady were lustful. I liked her as a person, but I do not think that I was in love with her. I met her through a cousin and we hit it off and began dating. We talked for hours over the phone. She introduced me to fine music such as Frank Sinatra, Claude Debussy and June Christy. I introduced her to sex. I never stopped to think of what harm it could bring.
After dating this girl for about a month, I was visiting my home state while planning on going back out west a few days later. My girlfriend became pregnant and said that she wanted to give the baby a name. Ignorant as I was, I told her to name it anything she wanted. I did not realize that she was asking me to marry her so the baby would be legitimate. When I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, a few days later, my parents had already heard the news. They said that the right thing to do was to marry her. I told them I didn't love her. They told me it didn't matter; that I would learn to love her in time.
So she flew out to Arizona and we were married by a Justice of the Peace. The following spring, she miscarried and we lost the baby. We had been talking about getting an annulment before it happened, but she was so devastated by the loss that I told her I would try to make the marriage work. We decided to stick it out, but the love did not come.
My wife did eventually get pregnant again, and we had our first daughter. We named her Kim. She was followed by another daughter, Kathleen, and a son, Scott. I was working two jobs to make ends meet. Six years passed and my wife got pregnant again with another son we named Ryan.
“You shall not commit adultery”(Exodus 20:14).
All during this time, I was having affairs. Some were one night stands, but there was one that lasted for over six months. This woman wanted me to run off with her, but I told her that I would never leave my wife and children.
We tried religion, going to a local church a few times. Our obstacles were that my wife was an atheist and I was an agnostic. We thought that if you tried to be a good person and lived by the “Golden Rule,” it would be enough.
After we had been married nine years my wife decided to go to work. I was left to watch our son Ryan, feeding him and changing his diaper, etc. One morning, my wife informed me that she didn't love me any longer and that she was taking the children and was going to stay with her sister who lived across town. I couldn't say I blamed her. I was drinking and had been mentally and physically abusive a couple of times. It really hurt when I came home that evening and found the house bare and empty. I suddenly felt very lonely and soon moved to a smaller home. I divorced my wife and have since remarried, but my ex-wife and I have remained friends and I make visits to the Washington area to visit my children as often as I can. (I had a vasectomy done prior to getting separated, so I could no longer father children).
“…time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
A month later, I was at a drive-in theater managed by a friend of mine, when I heard my name being paged over the public address system to come to the concession stand. My friend was waiting for me there. He told me that Scott, my five-year-old, had fallen into the canal waters that ran behind my sister-in-law’s house. He told me the rescue people had restarted his heart, but he wasn't breathing on his own and he was hooked up to a respirator at the hospital.
My friend drove me to the hospital because I was too upset. I chain smoked while trying to comprehend it all. My wife and girls were standing in the corridor when I arrived and we all held each other, crying. Scott was non-responsive; the machine was breathing for him. It broke my heart.
I stopped at a church on my way home to pray to God to spare my boy. I told Him I would dedicate my life to Him if only He made my son well again. I told Him I was sorry for being such a bad father and for all the wrongs of the past years.
Things did not change with my son. The doctors did a tracheotomy to help him breathe easier, but I did not detect any change afterward. They said that Scott was brain dead and that, even if he lived, he would be a vegetable. At the end of 10 days, during which time no positive change came, the doctors suggested that we take him off the respirator and "let him go”. We did.
“For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16).
The funeral remains a blur for me except for the memory of constant tears and asking my wife about getting back together for the sake of the children. She let me know that Scott’s death changed nothing for her. I was completely destroyed. In the following two years, I managed to survive despite much drinking and partying in order to numb myself. We tried to get back together once, but it just didn't click.
It has taken me many years to come to know God and for me to recognize that He knows me, but it happened. My path to Him was long and full of obstacles. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Today I realize just how uninformed I was about God and His Word. With the hope of the resurrection, I look forward to my day of death, knowing that we will all be raised to judgment. I can only hope the Lord finds me worthy of acceptance into His Kingdom.
It is not easy to be a child of God. The world holds so many temptations. We must practice faith, pray daily and stay strong in our efforts to become as holy as He is. Knowing that there are others following His path with me makes the journey less stressful.
My son’s death was a turning point. I could not accept the fact that he was dead; he was but a child, a little youth of five. To this day I can't picture him as anything but alive! I had told God that I would gladly turn around, if only He would not let my young son die. But alas, one cannot always bargain with the Lord, no matter how loudly one moans and cries.
He’s gone away to that distant land of death, and my life continues on while I wail and weep. But I know I'll see him at the second resurrection. I have faith in the coming resurrections and God’s plan of salvation. My son will be resurrected, just as I fondly remember him, and I will walk with him on that sweet day and, unlike my early life, “train him up in the way he should go.”
I came to discover real biblical truth when watching a television ministry. I then realized what a shambles I had made of my life. I was baptized when I remarried and have remained in the truth, attending services and reading the Bible on a daily basis since that time. I quit smoking, drinking to excess and curbed my anger. I have tried to adhere to the Ten Commandments and the will of God. My life has changed now that I have embraced God's Word.
If you’re struggling with difficult circumstances, read the Bible study aid Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion .