A friend of mine -- named Michael -- has been going through a very difficult time. He is a believer with a wonderful testimony who loves the Lord with all of his heart. He was a sub and Biology student-teacher when I still in school. I've shared his testimony a few times on SermonIndex over the last ten years or so.
Michael came to the Lord in a remarkable way. As a biology major in college, he was a fraternity president whose nickname was "Animal" for his party animal antics. He would literally etch tally marks to keep track of the girls he had slept with during college. He was also a biology lab instructor. While actively attempting to turn other students away from the concept of faith, he dismissed any notion of ever turning to God.
Due to a whirlwind of circumstances, the Lord suddenly began to woo Michael's heart. In utter agony, he would cry out to God. However, he feared that he had gone too far and was beyond salvation. Why?
One day, he opened up a Bible to the book of Hebrews chapter 6. He read the passages where it states, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
Michael interpreted this as a possibility that he had blasphemed the Holy Spirit. He became quite worried that he was now without hope. He couldn't eat. He couldn't sleep. He continued in this misery for about two weeks. Michael said that he lost about 20 pounds in less than two weeks because of the stress and agony of his soul.
Out of desperation, Michael telephoned several ministries for counseling. Some of them, upon hearing that he had understood and accepted Christ as a child told him that he was already saved and simply needed to realize it. Another ministry warned him that if he had blasphemed the Holy Spirit -- there was NO hope. Yet he knew that his heart was still mired in dark sexual sin.
After weeks of agonizing and crying out for his sins -- Michael had a vision. I don't remember if this was a "dream" or a "vision" (whereas he was awake).
Michael said that he saw himself standing at the bottom of a rugged hill. At the top of that hill was a man hanging on the cross. Michael said that this was not the picture he was used to of Jesus almost standing on a cross peg. This was a man beaten beyond recognition -- literally hanging from nails. Jesus was covered in blood, bruises, and sweat. He was also extremely swollen. But his eyes were open, and he was looking directly at Michael.
Michael said that he had never felt so much anguish in his entire life. He looked at Jesus and was somehow able to see "into" him. Christ had a heart that was pure and clean -- as pure as the whitest snow. Then, Michael looked at himself. He could see inside of himself as well, and his heart was black. He said that it was dirty to the core; if it were cut down the middle, it would have been black through and through.
Michael said that the agony of the moment was only compounded by the fact that he was embarrassed. Yet Jesus continued to look at him with the purest stare one could imagine -- piercing right into Michael. At this moment, Michael felt more helpless and hopeless than he had ever felt in his entire life. The agony of that moment was more excruciating than ever! He looked up at the Lord, like a little boy who was totally crushed on the inside.
Then the Lord said to him, "Michael, will you trade with me?"
At this point, Michael reached into his chest and pulled out that heart that was black with sin. He then pulled out the pure and clean heart from the Lord. Michael placed his heart into Jesus, and Jesus died. Michael then placed the Lord's clean heart into his own chest.
That was the end of his vision.
He began to serve the Lord immediately. Michael immediately began seeking the Lord wholeheartedly. I used to joke that he had hair, voice and holy angst like Keith Green. Within a short period of time, Michael proposed to the mother of his daughter. She had previously had an abortion (at his request) before he urged her not to abort their second child. He felt that this was the right thing to do and she had already prayed with him and began joining him in church. A year or two later, they had another daughter. Then another. Then another.
Michael went from being a high school teacher to working in the oil industry. This was a well-paying job, but it came at a great cost in terms of his family. He had to travel quite a bit. Still, he was a great father to his girls.
A couple of years ago, new energy policies caused the oil industry to crash. Many workers lost their jobs -- including Michael. This put even more strain on his marriage. Eventually, Michael's wife filed for divorce.
I knew that this was difficult for Michael. He silently anguished over the hurt but he remained faithful to the Lord. He found work doing odd jobs and working on a boat. He spent as much time with his daughters as he could. He would even eat lunch with them at their schools.
Even through the separation and divorce proceedings, Michael remained close to his in-laws. He loved them dearly and would spend time with them and pray with them whenever he could. Still, his wife just really wanted little to do with him.
The weeks after she filed for divorce and the subsequent proceedings turned into months and even into a year and a half. I knew that Mike was still hurting. He is an open and honest person and often wears his heart on his sleeve. I would pray for him. Unfortunately, over time, our prayers for people in situations like that tend to turn from prayers of reconciliation and restoration to accepting the circumstances with as much grace and strength that God can give.
Then something happened.
At the end of September, his wife posted something on Facebook. We aren't friends, but she had "tagged" him so it appeared on my Facebook news feed.
In a very long post, Michael's ex-wife posted about Michael. She praised him as a good father and a very faithful and true Christian. She admitted that she had not really known Jesus. She apologized -- publicly -- for having written bad things about Michael before, during and after the divorce. She said that his prayers and sharing of God's Word made her angry and that he was "dictating" over her and trying to keep her from being "happy." Now, she said that the Holy Spirit had suddenly grabbed hold of her heart. She realized that she had not really known the Lord. In her agony, she said that she cried out to God for help.
She said that the Holy Spirit came to her and opened her eyes. She was being convicted of sin and seeking to please the Lord. She was writing the post to repent publicly and to "set the record straight" since she had spent so much time publicly belittling her husband. She publicly apologized for being selfish and for the pain that she caused him. She pointed out that her husband had been attacked but was only guilty for seeking Jesus, speaking the truth and wanting his family "to follow and know Jesus."
After reading her post, I was overcome with joy! It was amazing to me because I knew Michael's wife. She is a highly intelligent and educated woman but also "sensibly proud" (if that makes sense). I didn't see this coming! In fact, it was somewhat outside of something that I thought would actually happen!
Michael and his wife are back together. I noticed that they changed their relationship status back to "married" a couple of weeks ago. I chatted with him over Facebook Messenger and he shared the full testimony with me -- and mentioned how diligently his wife is seeking the Lord. He pointed out that she truly gave her heart to Jesus and is sharing this with her family, friends, coworkers and others.
So, let me encourage you:
If you're going through similar circumstances, God is able to reach individuals who just seem (to our earthly eyes) "beyond the grasp." After all, there is NO ONE who is beyond God's grasp! Please continue to pray in your situation and circumstance!
In addition, please remember this woman in prayer too. She is a new believer and it is wonderful to see her love for the Lord oozing from her words.