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Healing Of Memories

Lynn Bowling

     My marketing career in Washington, DC was full of excitement, challenge, travel, fancy restaurants, expensive clothes and a new model car. Actually, I can't say that my life was unfulfilled or unhappy. I was active in my church and felt a degree of closeness to the Lord at the time. I knew God was working in my life, although I was not particularly trying to seek His will. As a single parent of two young boys, I felt my task was clear, and I was doing pretty well.
     After ten years of single parenthood, I met and married George in September of 1973. Leaving my career behind, I moved with him to his next assignment, Eglin AFB, Florida.
     We arrived on Halloween, 1973, and one of George's sons came to live with us at that time. His other son arrived within a few months; at that point our four combined sons were ages 11, 12, 13 and 14! It was sometimes difficult to love my own boys at those ages, and nearly impossible to love another's.
     The problems brought about by step-parenthood very quickly made me even question my love for my new husband. Our marriage deteriorated steadily. The stress level was kept high by constant battles, in addition to moving seven times in our first eight years of marriage.
     Children came and went, but the hurt, disappointment and, ultimately, bitterness and hatred, never left—those feelings only sank deeper into my inner being. The pain at one point was so unbearable that I not only contemplated, but carefully planned, my suicide. Only the grace of God carried me through that time safely.
     I could not understand what God was doing with me. Constantly I prayed for His help, but somehow the situation never seemed to improve. In reality I was expecting God to change George while I was unwilling to be changed.
     Finally, in despair, I filed for divorce. We lost our beautiful waterfront home in Freeport, Florida, and moved to separate homes in nearby Fort Walton Beach.
     During the nine months that we were separated, I finally collapsed from the emotional stress. I spent two weeks hospitalized and several weeks thereafter, recuperating. Although the daily pain of our marriage was gone, the hatred and bitterness remained. Somehow, and I honestly don't understand how or why, George and I agreed to try for a reconciliation of our marriage. Surely it was the Lord's grace and mercy that allowed us to even consider such a move, because, on my part at least, it was a loveless decision.
     At this point in our lives, we had become regular attendees of Immanuel in Destin, Florida, but I recall resenting that we spent so much time at church and church-related activities. People who remember me as I was then will tell you that I was not a happy or even pleasant person.
     One Saturday morning, after a vicious domestic verbal battle, I left home. I told my children not to be alarmed if I did not return that night.
     Most of my life I have lived near the ocean and always went to the water's edge for quiet time to think out problems. Following that pattern, I headed for the beautiful blue-green water near Destin to cool off from the heat of our argument. As that day came to a close, I began to wonder what I would do that evening. An announcement in the previous week's church bulletin told of a healing service that would be held at Immanuel that particular Saturday night. The service was to be conducted by a Kenyan evangelist, Rev. Charles Muyu.
     I had never been to a healing service before and seldom had I been to any church service on a Saturday evening. Realizing I had nowhere else to go, I decided to satisfy my curiosity about this one, and I arrived early.
     To my disgust and dismay, I spotted George's car as I drove into the church parking lot. I wondered what he was doing here. We had never discussed the possibility of attending and I swore out loud at his interference with my evening plans. But deep in my heart, beneath my awful anger and hurt, I knew God had wanted both of us to be at that place that night.
     Because George was already seated near the front of the church, I chose a lonely seat at the left rear of the sanctuary on the same side. He remained unaware of my presence there.
    I listened as Charles Muyu preached on the healing ministry of Christ, and I knew that I wanted to be healed of the terrible pain I was experiencing in my life and marriage. Finally, an invitation was given for people to come forward for prayer.
    A line began to form down the center aisle. In my utter despair and helplessness, I sat in that rear pew and lifted by hands to the Lord, asking Jesus to forgive me and help me because I just wasn't sure I could get into that line and walk past George and all those people. I had never raised my hands in worship before, so that in itself was a big step for me. I believe now that the act of raising my hands was symbolic of submitting myself totally to Christ, and a miracle happened in my life that made me a new person in Christ Jesus. At that very moment, Jesus healed me. All of my hatred, anger, bitterness, all of the ugliness that had slowly consumed me over several years was gone in an instant. In its place was a brand-new feeling. I felt a glowing warmth and love that seemed unreal, and I hadn't even left my seat yet to stand in line! Still, I knew I had surely been healed, but decided I'd better go forward anyway.
    I stood in line wondering how I would state my need quickly and concisely since the crowd was large and the needs were obviously many. My thoughts went back to a conversation I'd had some months earlier with a coworker, Dr. George Bailey, who also attended Immanuel at the time. He told me of a dramatic change in his life because of a "healing of memories" he had experienced. I decided I could quickly ask for that.
     When I at last reached the front of the line, Pastor Muyu and our own priest, Rev. Sandy Greene, prayed for me and I couldn't keep the smile off my face for the joy I felt.
    On the way back to my seat, George saw me for the first time. He walked forward for prayer also, then joined me at the rear of the church. We sat closely, holding hands and smiling at each other. From that moment on, our marriage went down a new road, based on a new love for each other given by Jesus Christ Himself. Sure, there were potholes in that road—plenty of them, and it wasn't instantly easy, but with newly softened and repentant hearts resulting from the Holy Spirit's healing the hurtful memories of our past, we had new hope to face the future.
    The Lord heals in many ways, in His time, and probably the instantaneous healing we experienced would not be the way He works in everyone's life. I suspect that God knew we were so far apart and had hurt each other so badly, that unless He intervened quickly, our marriage was history. So not only had we been blessed by the healing of years of painful memories, but our marriage had been healed as well.  For that, and all of His other many blessings, I give God the glory.

Note: As an indication of how God uses every aspect of our lives—the good and what might be seen as the bad, George and Lynn Bowling felt called to be medical missionaries...in Kenya, and spent 13 months there some years after their healing. Later, Lynn worked with The Marriage Retreat, a Christian ministry to marriages. Lynn has published three books about her life adventures, and much of the above article is excerpted from one of her books. For comments or questions, contact Lynn directly at LynBowling@aol.com