“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Toss the phrase around too much and it loses its meaning.
But today, something occurred that caused me to whisper it aloud, to myself, as I drove to my home in the mountains.
Earlier, I’d met one of my dearest friends for coffee and conversation. I’d easily put her in the “top five” on my “Friends List”. She’s always here for me when I need her. I trust her with my most intimate feelings and even with the lives of my precious children. They call her Kim, but if they called her mom, I think I’d be okay with it.
That’s probably a good thing, considering she’s their step-mom.
Yes. You heard right. Kim is my ex-husband’s wife.
Oh, don’t get me wrong! Things haven’t always been all roses and butterflies! In fact, for a time, our relationship was downright nasty!
This morning, as we talked, laughed, and cried together over our mocha latte’s, we agreed: Had somebody told us ten years ago that we’d be laughing and chummy today, we’d have started by announcing that they had a screw loose. After giving them a piece of our minds, Kim and I would have spat in each other’s faces and then stomped away, in opposite directions (okay, it wasn’t quite that bad, but you get the idea.)
Our husbands are friends now, too. The contempt that my ex-spouse and current husband held for each other was much greater than the disdain which Kim and I shared, but now – mysteriously – the four of us meet for lunch, share family holidays, and genuinely enjoy being in each other’s company.
Are you shaking your head and asking, “How?”
Did I mention that the Lord works in mysterious ways?
A few years back, Justin, my son (Kim’s step-son, who is now our son), got into … let’s just call it, a little bit of legal trouble. We were all devastated and scared for our child. As parents, we realized that we couldn’t rescue him from what was sure to be a painful trial and, to be honest, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time with my ex-husband and his wife, trying to figure out how to fix the situation.
On the first weekend of Justin’s incarceration, my ex called.
“We’re thinking about going to church with you.”
My husband and I attended a small community church, about an hour from where Rob and Kim lived. Although I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of them sitting in church with me, I wasn’t about to talk them out of it either. After all, it was church. I reasoned that it was unlikely they’d drive the hour it would take and, thus, I doubted they would come to my church, especially since they weren’t necessarily church-going people at the time.
“Um … okay,” I replied, trying to sound encouraging. “It starts at ten o’clock.”
“Sounds good,” Rob answered. “We’ll meet you there at ten.”
I hung up the phone and informed Ed of the unexpected appointment. We both reacted with mixed emotions. The idea of our children’s other parents attending church made us happy, but the thought of them being at “our” church, with us … not so much.
“Why don’t they go to a church closer to where they live?” Ed inquired, using the best “I’m just trying to be supportive,” tone he could muster.
I shrugged and answered, “Dunno. For some reason, they want to come to church with us.”
As planned, Rob and Kim arrived for service and sat directly behind us. I was a little uneasy knowing that the two people with whom I’d had the most conflict over the years, were sitting so close. I felt so vulnerable! What if they made terrible faces behind my back, or yanked my hair, or … their opportunities to sabotage me were endless!
And it didn’t stop there.
As their first visit concluded, my ex and his wife declared that they’d felt more at home there than they had at any other church.
“We’re considering coming back next weekend,” they announced.
As we drove home, Ed and I wondered, “Do you think they’re gonna make this a regular thing?” After all, this was our church, and last time we checked, the four of us were adversaries.
The weeks passed and Rob and Kim continued to attend. They accepted Christ and were baptized.
It didn’t take long before “our” church became “their” church. We actually looked forward to seeing them and often joined each other for brunch after service.
But wait! We were foes! We hated each other! Okay, hate is a strong word, but it’s fair to say that we really, really, really, didn’t like each other … or did we?
As time went on, the strangest things started to happen. When Rob and Kim were tight on money, Ed would offer to put gas in their car so they could make it to church. When Rob was hired by a great employer, he attributed his success to me helping him (he’d attended a vocational school, where I worked.)
Strangely … or dare I say … mysteriously, the four of us became genuine friends. From there, we became devoted family.
When Kim and I met today, we talked for hours over coffee. Other patrons came and left, but we remained, planted comfortably in our wooden chairs, chatting about everything under the sun.
We even brought up the past. Yes, the ugly past. I admit, it felt emotionally heavy to talk about it again, but not like it used to. But mysteriously, the ability to share these stories with each other was also freeing. To know that we could sit together, as sisters in Christ, and talk about the pain we’d caused each other, and to celebrate where we are today; amazing!
God took a terrible situation – a vile relationship between four people – and used another horrible situation – our son facing a life-changing challenge – and turned our children’s parents into a family.
The Lord, with His far-reaching perspective of our lives, turned a war-torn battlefield into a peaceful prairie; one where Rob, Kim, Ed, and I long to be … with each other.
Nowadays, when I hear people say, “That’s impossible,” or “It would take a miracle,” I think of that mysterious healing that the Lord worked into my life. It’s one of many mountains He has moved for me, because I truly wasn’t strong enough or wise enough to do it myself.
But it took prayer, as well as four stubborn individuals who were willing to soften their hearts, reach out to each other (albeit cautiously, at first), and realize that we needed the help of a Higher Power to get through the sorrow and fear we carried over our shared child.
If you’re facing a mountain that is too high to climb and too wide to walk around, know this: God does work in mysterious ways. He can move mountains, usually when you least expect it. As the song from Rita Springer shouts:
“ … He said that He’s forever faithful
He said that He’s forever true
He said that He can move mountains
If He can move mountains
He can move my mountain
He can move your mountain, too.”
I’m so happy that God has worked His mysterious ways into my life. Because of that, Ed and I now have two new family members who understand, trust, and love us as much as we do them.
And, if you were curious, our son’s ordeal was dismissed from the courts; another mysterious blessing!
P.S. Before I posted this, I asked Kim if she was comfortable with me doing so. I loved her response:
“ … As for the story, it is perfect. [Rob and I] had a lot of apprehension about that first church visit as well, we were worried about the awkwardness of it. Plus we didn’t want to step on toes. The truth, is I think we were drawn to it, I don’t think we could have not shown up … God was driving that morning, not us. So please share [the post], it may help someone on the fence, [who is questioning] what God is capable of, to finally breach the frontline and come home. I know we say it, but I truly love you sister in Christ and am proud to call the 2 of you friends.”