Proclamation, Invitation, & Warning

 

Six Year Separation

From a Violent Husband and then a Miracle

A Testimony of Jesus Christ in the Life of Patty of Gig Harbor, Washington State, USA

Posted 1/1/2008 Updated 2/1/08

Hello! Got a few minutes? I'd like to tell you about an amazing series of events in my life, not ever likely to be found in a newspaper or on the evening news. Nevertheless, the relating certainly points to a loving God who is right there in our presence, turning hard things to good, as He promised long ago, for all who love Him.

Raised a Roman Catholic - Husband John & Patty’s Dilemma - The Priesthood and John - The Beating - The Separation - The Miracle - 4:22 - Marriage Renewed - Another Miracle! - To Live is Christ…

Raised a Roman Catholic

Now, in my upbringing as a Roman Catholic, (including 18 years in their various schools), I saw statues of Jesus on the cross and Mary and Joseph to the left and right of the main altar in church. I was told of dead saints to pray to, but I never felt the closeness of a personal God and Savior.

It took until my 33rd year to hear the simple and profound "good news" that the Father sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment in full for MY sins and those of the whole world! What a revelation! A certain verse brought me to see MY sin, since I had come to blame my parents - you know, like the poem goes ... "everything I do that's wrong is someone else's fault!" Jesus said, "I came to save SINNERS." I had to admit it was ME who had chosen to sin.

Husband John & Patty’s Dilemma

I had married a man who had "come back" to the church when he asked me to marry him. So all these years later, when I saw MY sin and God's solution in Jesus, I behaved as a much more devoted wife. He allowed me to begin attending prayer meetings in a "mixed" group of Protestant and Catholic folks. But after three years, having continued attending the Catholic mass with my husband and four children, I had a moment of clear understanding that I was not in the company God had in mind for me.

Events in my church had opened my eyes. I suddenly began hearing the words of "canned" prayers, especially about Mary being the Mediatrix between God and mankind, and the holder of the keys of salvation. When I was born again three years before, I thereafter voraciously read the Bible. I began to study the doctrines of the church, discovering that sixteen of them were in direct conflict with the Bible. Then God opened my ears and eyes, I realized that so much of Catholicism was pagan, blasphemy, a lie.

This was a tactical problem, since I came from a faithful Catholic family who never missed Sunday mass. In fact, during my years at home, my dear Dad and I went to daily mass together from April through September - at 6AM! But now, with eyes opened, at God's perfect time, it was clear that I had to choose between the truth in the Bible and the "faith of my fathers."

I recall that moment of decision. Surely I would lose the love and favor of my family (all 122 of them) and the love of my husband who had "come back to Holy Mother the Church" for me, so that I would agree to marry him. But God gave the strength to follow the Truth, and I recall, when I had counted the cost and opted for what the Bible taught, I felt almost literally, like a huge carrot was pulled out of me, from my middle through my head. The moments that followed were of incredible JOY and LIGHTNESS. It was wonderfully clear this was the only right decision, whatever the cost might prove to be.

The Priesthood and John

I had done a decorating job at the priests' house and knew my pastor rather well. He had expressed the desire to leave the priesthood, but his bishop insisted he go for a few months "rest" to a monastery in the southwest established by Thomas Merton, a famous abbot and prolific writer of a new age brand of "contemplative Catholicism." When the priest returned to resume his duties at our local church, he stood at the pulpit and announced that he had read nothing there but Merton's books, had discovered his spirituality and had a mantra for prayer now. (Yes, he literally used that term.) He declared that he repeated "Mary" over and over to finally come into union with God. Strange to write of this phenomenon all these years later since there is now a growing and dangerous trend to "contemplative" prayer, mantras, breath prayers, candles, etc. that is inundating EVANGELICAL churches, with readings from Thomas Merton and other Catholic "mystics." I can only think of that phrase we all heard in history class, "All roads lead to Rome!"

In the meantime, my husband, a highly educated man who caught the attention of the bishop and was a bit of a "fair-haired boy" to him, was given a rather substantial project to oversee for the diocese. God saw fit, in that very time, to lay on me the burden to leave the church.

The Beating

God's timing seemed bad timing. But when I counted the cost and made the choice to follow His prompting, I approached my husband, asking if he would allow me to take the children to another church. He said to do what I wanted. That was New Year's Day 1976 and the 12 hours that followed moved my whole life into a different mode ... in which I had to trust God moment by moment and completely.

That night, having drunk a continuous supply of alcohol all afternoon and evening and after the kids were upstairs in bed, my husband began to hit me in the head with his closed fist. I remember counting to 16 times, each time speaking out "Jesus, help." My husband seemed to lose all strength in his arm, and went to bed, quickly falling asleep.

All day, as he drank, I had directed the kids up hill with the snowmobile, and off to skate on the pond, admonishing, "stay away from Dad for now." I managed to wash and pack into the car clothes and blankets, pillows, etc. There was no doubt in my mind that real trouble was coming. I even noticed a Christian comic on the laundry floor - the front cover shouting its name to me, "A Time to Run."

When my husband had become violent, and then, as if all strength was taken from him, had fallen asleep, I rushed up to awaken and get the children to the car, which was all packed and ready, "just in case." The last one out was three-year-old Greg, sound asleep in the quilt I had wrapped him in. We were about to step up to the van, when I heard my husband's voice, eerily gentle, saying, "What are you doing? Come into the house."

We silently followed him back in, and all went to bed in silence. I didn't set the alarm. When I awoke in the morning, I caught a glimpse of my husband leaving our room, in his suit, with attaché in hand, ready for the office. This was the only morning of our married life when I failed to have his breakfast ready. That odd thought resounded in me, for I was a creature of habit. As soon as the sound of his car seemed distant, I sprang up, gathered the children in jammies, and we left rapidly by the back road, just in case. I was in horror that John could be waiting at the bottom of the road. We took an obscure route to the freeway and headed for the next state where my sister and family lived.

The Separation

Over the next six years, through my sister, John arranged meetings with the children, and finally I was convinced that he meant them no harm. They had two weeks in summer with him each year. He sent me letters saying that if I did not come back, he would kill himself. He said hateful, then loving things, sent threats, and bouquets of roses. The report from our growing children was that he was drinking a lot (but not in front of them) when they were having their visits.

Meanwhile, they and I lived on an incredibly tiny income. I took jobs that lasted until school got out in May, and each year blessed the Lord who was keeping us safe and fed. I felt less wary when we settled 400 miles away from John.

We went through a formal divorce and dividing of assets after a year from the "event." But I made up my mind that I had married for "life" in God's eyes, so there would be NO dating for me, just faithful mothering until these young folks were on their way. I was grimly determined to stay single.

But I prayed for John for the first two years, that he would somehow repent and let God into his life. The following two years, I prayed he would bear fruit before his days were ended. The last two years, I begrudgingly agreed in prayer that if God ever showed me that I should go back to him, I would do it.

The Miracle - 4:22

In the Spring of 1983, I was troubled with that awful thought and decided to fast for a week asking God to give me peace, one way or the other by the seventh day. I told a friend about this. On the seventh day of fasting, I had no answer if I had to go back or not, I was very hungry, weak and upset. At about 4PM, I went to that friend's to inquire about her children's private school. I wanted to get my children settled after six years of living here and there. And I had no answer - yet. My friend said, "I thought you were fasting for God's answer!"

I admit that at that hour I was angry at God's silence. But as I looked over her shoulder, I noted the time to be 4:22. And right then, I KNEW I was to go back! I declared that certainty to her, and left her dumbfounded, as I left for home to call my husband and tell him I would return when school got out in late May.

Did you know there are 3,153,600 minutes in six years? Now here is how I know there is a blessed, loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise GOD in this world of ours. I called my husband at his office when I got home and simply made my declaration that I was coming home to him. He was silent! I reminded him that he had threatened suicide, sent flowers, sent threats that I had no right to stay away ... why was he silent? He asked what time I decided this. I remembered my friend's kitchen clock - "4:22, why?" He began to sob and finally said, "Do you want to know what I did at 4:22? I locked the office door and knelt down and told God that I was giving up trying to get you back. Three times, I said 'I give up! It's all your baby now.'" At the same moment he released this to God, I gained absolute certainty that I was to go back to him, whatever the cost. Four hundred miles apart, same minute exactly. One out of 3,153,600.

Marriage Renewed

I went back as I said I would. By now, our oldest was in the Army, the second in Bible school in Wisconsin, the third in university and only the young son was with me. Truly, I knew I could be entering an alcoholic and emotional nightmare. But God had given me a clear answer on that afternoon at 4:22. No turning back. Amazingly, I found John was really trying to control his notorious anger. In fact, he was actually pleasant to a mild degree. I figured he was alert to the possibility that I would never again put up with violence from him. Once was all it took. To this day, I do not equate marriage and violence in the same scenario. That is not marriage at all.

After just a few months, we remarried officially, though we both knew we had never been out of our marriage. We had both been faithful to each other. After a few months, I recall looking out the window and thanking God that this return had, indeed, not been to a "nightmare" but to Peace and Goodwill. I had no regrets, and in fact, was sure I had done the right thing.

We began attending an evangelical church and continued until John decided to retire. He thought it was good to move to my sister's area, since my folks had moved there. This was quite "big" of him, since they had obvious distrust of him given his track record. But we did move west. After seven years, with all the kids gone, he began to get that old anger problem back. I reminded him of how his anger had done great damage to our family. We couldn't let that happen ever again. He agreed, and asked me to pray. That was a shock since he was a proud man who ALWAYS had to do the thanks before meals. No woman would ever take the lead while he was around!

Another Miracle!

I have to regress a moment. Years before, I discovered his mother had paid a shaman from the old country, Poland, to mutter his power over John. who was then an 11 year old who had just spent a year in bed due to rheumatic fever. His dad had died at a young age due to a work related accident, and John contracted this destructive condition just after his dad's death. His mother spoke no English and was naturally afraid to raise four children in a new country. She did not call the priest but instead, following the old Polish practice, called in the shaman twice, paying him $2 each time. John recalled that with disapproval. His sister related that John developed a raging anger when he was "about 11," yet never connected the two.

Returning to the day John requested prayer, I recalled his witch doctor experience and did what he surely never expected. The verse came back to me on the moment ... "Submit yourself to God; resist the Devil and he will flee." So that is the prayer I offered to my dear and powerful God, declaring in the hearing of our enemy that all my family, husband, children and myself were under the blood of Jesus Christ, and we submit ourselves to Him. I then commanded that any spirit that had troubled my husband or dwelt in our house, on our property, in our cars, must leave and never return, "in the name of Jesus." It only took seconds to pray, and when I finished, my husband quietly thanked me, stood up and went to putter in the kitchen. No drama. But before that day ended, I saw the total transformation of a once proud and angry man. From that hour, John became a man of peace and joy and kindness. He would listen to J. Vernon McGee and others on radio and weep for joy even in hearing Jesus' name. He was kind and humorous and a treasure to live with.

To Live is Christ…

He lived two years more and died within about twelve hours of a sudden heart attack, with three of our four children there to say "goodbye." When I was allowed into his hospital room, he would smile as I recited encouraging Bible verses in his ear. He had tubes in mouth, arms, everywhere! For the first time ever, this fellow was unable to speak. He was able to talk for hours on most any subject. His mother once said he was like "a Jew giving a heavenly sermon." (Translated by her daughter.)

Once I had told him that if he got dentures, I never wanted to see him with them out. He kept his promise over those nine years of our "restoration" but once in the hospital, they were removed. So his smile may also have been a humorous apology. I could almost hear his thoughts that last morning, "Sorry, Kitten, but they insisted." (Philippians 1:21)


How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? For ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? Psalm 13:1
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you… 1 Peter 4:12
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Revelation 19:7

Raised a Roman Catholic - Husband John & Patty’s Dilemma - The Priesthood and John - The Beating - The Separation - The Miracle - 4:22 - Marriage Renewed - Another Miracle! - To Live is Christ…

 

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