Divorce went up in flames

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me; deep dark depression, and excessive misery.” Coming from that old television show, “Hee Haw,” that phrase was funny, but from the mouth of John Walstrom it was tragic.


The words describe the despondency into which the young painting contractor had sunk. Life had little attraction for him. He was without purpose. He had lost his hold on God.


John’s wife, Gina, however, was holding on to hope. She was praying that God would bring the husband she had never seen to his senses.


John and Gina had met each other in church. The blindness, which had struck her when she was a young teenager, made no difference in the courtship that developed. Even when his business took him to Monterey, John would drive to Fresno every weekend to see Gina. By 1987, they moved from courtship to marriage.


For awhile, things went smoothly. Then, they stopped attending church, and it wasn’t long before they began to experience some emotional distance. As time went by, they grew further apart until seven years after their wedding, John decided to leave.


Both John and Gina continued to live in Fresno, apart. He lived a self-absorbed life, preoccupied with his own feelings, interests, and desires, which included frequent bouts with the bottle. This new-found freedom also opened up an avenue for him to satisfy his carnal passions. He engaged in an adulterous affair.


For her part, Gina turned to God for help. She began to pray fervently for John and the preservation of their marriage. The Almighty responded by promising her that her marriage was going to be restored.


Meanwhile, John’s footloose and fancy free lifestyle hit a bump in the road. He began to have business problems, so he did a strange thing.


From his religious upbringing, John held to the biblical concept that if one will sow, one will reap, so he decided to begin giving 10 percent of his income to a church whose pastor he knew. John sent in his tithe once a month to the church, and each month the pastor sent John a letter of encouragement.


Before long, John’s strategy seemed to pay off. His business bounced back. He was still engaged in his extramarital affair, so he filed for divorce. However, all was not well.


John’s life began to lose its equanimity. His relationship with the “other woman” started to sour, and he began to feel a vacuum in his spirit. Almost two years had gone by since he had left Gina, and now each passing day brought him closer to depression and despondency.


What John didn’t know, however, was that Gina was now attending a different church. The pastor of this new congregation was resolute in his support of her fight against the enemy that was trying to destroy her marriage. He led his parishioners in a prayer battle, and out of that assault on evil,


Gina received in her spirit the assurance for which she was looking — Proverbs 19:21- “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”


Gina held onto that promise and continued to pray. Meanwhile, John was growing ever more miserable.


Finally, one night while he was at home trying to occupy himself, he hit the bottom. He was alone watching Jeopardy, playing solitaire, and drinking. Suddenly, he cried out from the depths of his soul to God. He told him that he couldn’t stand the emptiness inside him any longer. He begged the Lord to bring meaning back into his life.


John went to the sink, poured out his beer and found his Bible. He opened it, and it fell to Proverbs, 19:21, the very same verse God had given Gina. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”


As he read these words, John received a divine touch of hope deep in his soul. God was telling him He had a plan for him that included Gina, but there was a problem.


John had filed for divorce, and he had received notice of the final decree. It was a done deal. The divorce was final. It was over, or so he thought.


Once again, amazing things were happening to Gina. She also got the divorce papers in the mail, but without reading them, she called her pastor. They went out to the backyard, dug a hole, burned the papers, and buried them. Gina then stomped on the dirt; she was standing on Proverbs 19:21.


A short time later, John’s business took him briefly to Wyoming. On the two-day drive back to Fresno, he had the spiritual struggle of his life. He alternated between hope and despair. One minute he would think that God would restore his marriage, and in the next, he fell victim to another voice that told him he had gone too far; it was too late.


Back and forth the battle went until John finally said, “enough.”


When he reached Fresno, he drove directly to Gina’s. When she came to the door, he asked her, “Will you marry me?”


Gina replied, “Yes, I love weddings, especially my own.”


She then called her pastor, and he and his wife came over and married John and Gina that night, March 24, 1996.


After a two-year hiatus, God had brought John back to Gina, and he had used Proverbs 19:21 to let them both know that He is in charge.


Even Shakespeare recognized a miracle, “There is a Divinity that shapes our ends, rough hue them as we will.”

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