My beloved is mine, and I am His . . .
When I found Him whom my soul loves;
I held on to Him and would not let Him go . . .
For I am lovesick.
—Song of Solomon 3:2–4; 5:8
When I began this chapter, uncharacteristically thanks to His love, I struggled to get it written. I knew where we were headed, and I also knew that it was fear that was causing my hesitancy. Though we’ve been told 365 times in the Bible never to fear anything, and as I’ve written before, especially not fearing what other people think, I still had hesitated and put off writing this chapter. My concern was that I knew what I had to say had the potential to stir up fearful emotions in some of you who are currently seeking restoration for their marriage, then potentially be used by the enemy to discourage you.
At the same time, what I’m about to share is so exciting from my perspective, I literally want to shout it from the rooftops, telling the entire world. So no matter how it begins to unfold, my desire in writing this chapter is to help you understand it was your heart I had in mind. It is my hope that it will not, in any way, make you feel in the least discouraged or worried or that any other negative emotion would wash over you.
The way it can adversely affect you is that so often we see the journeys others are called to take and we can’t help but wonder, “How is this going to affect me? Is this something He is going to make me go through too?” The truth is, most often the answer is, No, and He’s not going to call you to take the same course He’s asked me (or others) to take. So anytime you start to become concerned, stop to let His love and assurance quiet your fears because there’s simply no way His plan for your future is not intended to be bright, exciting and drenched in His love. Remember, He died to give you your Abundant Life, right?!
So, to get started, please bear with me just a bit longer because I’m going to veer off before I begin. It’s because just recently I was reading a book by an author and I found myself so lost with almost half of what she’d written. It was because she’d written it with her “regular followers” or fans in mind, and I was not one of them—so I had no idea what she was even talking about. So this means that I need to begin this chapter by quickly laying out my personal situation, so that those of who are new to my books or to Erin’s RMI ministry are not confused by what I am about to share.
One of the most difficult parts of going through my husband leaving and divorcing me, once again, had to do with the fact that my personal ministering and also helping RMI originated with my own marriage being restored. After years of seeking God to restore my marriage, He answered my prayers, when I trusted God to restore it, while learning and diligently following the restoration principles that I found from RMI, which I readily confirmed by checking them with my own Bible. As a result, soon after my marriage was restored, women in my church came to me for help and guidance that resulted in me having a ministry within my church. Then later it also opened doors for me to speak around the world—bringing hope to women who were in marriage crises and unbearable pain who also wanted their marriage restored.
“Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:9–10).
So when my husband had once again left me, and divorced me after fourteen years of being restored (who, I shared was one of the pastors at the church where I’d been ministering), many women bailed out of our fellowships as quickly as they would if a ship was sinking—but who could blame them? Those who remained were left stunned, shocked, and shaken as they couldn’t help but think of their own marriage and they were afraid their restoration wouldn’t “last” either. Surprisingly, many expected me to give them encouragement and support during a time in my own life when I was living through it, which left me also a bit bewildered, because I had no idea what was really up ahead for me, or my ministry, or my children, or my finances, or my future.
As strange as it sounds, that’s when He began opening the doors for me to begin to travel (actually just three weeks after my divorce was final). I got invitations from several churches, where they said they had many women who had questions regarding how this would change their restoration. And, one of the most sought-after questions had to do with inquiries about my future “marriage restoration”—when and how it would take place “this time.” What I learned from coming through my husband’s second abandonment, (and you’ll understand more if you read my book Facing Divorce—Again), was that a crisis of this magnitude has a way of changing its victim in incredible ways. It’s actually not only brought me to a level of intimacy that I only ever dreamed I would have with the Lord; but it was a deeper intimacy than I thought even existed or had ever remotely heard anyone ever share, not even something I’d heard someone sing about.
This newly enhanced relationship I’d found very soon became the main focus of my life. I no longer was looking at my future or any other detail of life, certainly not about any sort of marriage restoration. Wonderfully, my attention turned solely to the One whom I found loved me beyond imagination. When this happened, I realized that I was desperate to hold onto His tenderness towards me no matter what. The desperation began to actually become an obsession especially when I felt it threatened. Anytime I would get an email or was asked by someone “Michele I’m excited to know when your next restoration might take place? Has God told you how it’s going happen?” When anyone would ask me about my future restoration with my ex-husband, I found myself digging deeper into the heart of my Beloved lest anyone try to take me away from what I had found—HIM and His love. Love that I was soaking in, each day, every day, and especially resting in throughout the night.
During these times I felt threatened, when I’d asked Him to never let me go, He often leads me to read, “The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord…But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7: 34–40).
At first when I’d answer any question regarding my next or second marriage restoration, I found myself basically on autopilot or sort of in a daze. What I struggled with had to do with my ministering. For years I’d been working with Erin to help women who were desperate (as I had been) to have their marriages restored, so of course, at the time this was my main and only focus for what I ministered.
So, with the turn of events in my life, very quickly I knew that even though I could surely lose my position with RMI and also lose my entire fellowship that I’d established at my church, along with any further speaking engagements (and which meant losing any and all my income, that was already crumbling beneath me), I felt I needed to be completely transparent and share my true feelings—I no longer was seeking restoration, and in fact, I did not want it.
“My beloved is mine, and I am His . . . When I found Him whom my soul loves; I held on to Him and would not let him go . . . For I am lovesick” (Song of Solomon 3:2–4; 5:8).
At the time this was going on, this concept had never ever been spoken about within the ministry, but thankfully, no longer is a statement about it (not wanting my marriage restored) as shocking as it once had been. Unfortunately, since I had been the first to utter such heresy, I watched as many women began to turn their backs on me. The new focus of my ministry was more than they could bear, and sadly they wrongly began to believe that I no longer believed in marriage restoration since I wasn’t seeking it for myself.
My dilemma wore on and at one point, early one morning while still in bed, I blurted out to the Lord that I would obey and do anything He asked me, but… I would not restore my marriage to my ex-husband because I would never leave Him! I pulled the covers over my head, and within seconds I began to weep thinking of how I must have grieved my Husband with my horrid attitude. With tears, I sobbed, asking if He was disappointed in me. What I heard surprised me, and I believe it will surprise you too. He said that it did not grieve Him in anyway, but instead it blessed Him and touched His heart!!
Stunned, He went on by reminding me how Joshua rebelled against God’s command to stay off Mt. Zion (since anyone who came too close would be killed) while Moses went up to meet with Him face-to-face. Joshua wanted and needed more of God—no matter what it cost him. Then later, did you remember it was Joshua who took over when Moses’s anger caused him to never make it to the Promised Land? So what he’d done, going against God’s command, was rewarded.
Next He reminded me about Ruth and when she refused Naomi’s insistence to leave her and go back to her people. Ruth demanded saying, no, she would remain with her mother-in-law—and that’s when God blessed her and she became the wife of Boaz—not to mention being in the lineage of Jesus!
Next the Lord reminded me about Elisha who refused each time Elijah tried to make him stay behind. God blessed him as we see later in the Bible that it was Elisha who had far more of an anointing, more than Elijah ever had.
It seems that God is pleased with undying loyalty, devotion, and a kind of love that refuses to leave His presence.
Even though I felt much better, I still found myself so anxious and fearful that the Lord would someday ask me to restore my marriage with my ex-husband, possibly for His glory. Then one fateful day while in South Africa, my dear, sweet hostess asked me if she could ask me a personal question. When she asked, it was basically the same sort of question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind, “Would you ever take your husband back?” I answered her the same way as I’d done countless times before:
“No matter what God asked me to do, I would do . . . no matter what it was.”
That night as I lay in bed, I did something that seems so simple, yet I had never thought about it until then. I asked the Lord, “Darling, when someone asks me that question, how do You want me to answer?”
What I heard Him say left me baffled; He said, “Just tell them that you can’t.”
For the next few weeks many Bible verses began to run through my mind as I was desperately trying to make sense of what He had told me. What did He mean when He said, “. . . you can’t”?
With no verse or principle coming to my mind, I woke up eager to begin searching throughout my Bible to find verses to help me understand. But that morning I was heading to Kenya and I didn’t have my favorite Bible with me. When I began traveling extensively, I stopped bringing it because it got slightly damaged on one trip, so while traveling, I relied on my laptop Bible that I connect to on the internet. (This was prior to having the luxury of a Bible app on your phone and internet wherever you are in the world.)
While looking back, it’s almost laughable now, because He’d told me the night I hurriedly boarded my plane for Kenya, and that’s a country where the Internet was almost impossible to connect to. Where I was staying had no internet, and there was only one internet café where you could buy a few minutes, which I used up to stay connected to my children. Why had He orchestrated telling me without having the ability to search? Because the Lord just wanted me to be quiet and seek Him; time to simply sit still, listening to what He wanted to tell me Himself.
What I heard you’ll be reading in the next chapter. But just as the Lord had me disconnect from searching elsewhere, He’s asked me to leave you, too, to give you time to just be still and let the Lord speak to you. Don’t just stop for a few minutes before reading the next chapter, instead, take a few days, or longer, to allow the Lord to speak to you regarding what He told me and what He’s going to have me share. I believe He’s about to open your heart, allowing you to begin living the abundant life of your dreams!
Remember, “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Ephesians 3:20 The Message).
“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He WAITS on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).