The Final Decree
by Melanie Hemry
Sitting down outside the courthouse, Judy wondered what she should do. Despite 2 1/2 years of prayers and forgiveness and her faith that their marriage would be restored, Steven had divorced her.
The judge slammed the stamp onto each paper in rapid succession. Judy Myers gripped the counter, feeling each stamp imprinted on her heart - castaway...rejected...worthless....
Steven stood casually beside her. Steven, her husband of 10 years. Steven, the tall, burly hero who always made her feel so beautiful. Steven, the father of her children. Steven, who had left her for another woman. Steven, who had asked these people to stamp these papers and cut her out of his life.
Judy stumbled out of the courthouse and sank onto a nearby bench. Divorced. So final. Cradling her head in her hands, Judy remembered when divorce had been an unthinkable word in their marriage.
Then she had met Jesus and for some reason things began to change. Judy remembered running home to tell Steven about Him. They told each other everything in those days. Steven looked at her in an odd sort of way and said, "That's nice."
That's nice? The more she told Steven about her relationship with the Lord, the more distant he became. Until finally, 2 1/2 years ago, he'd moved out - into the arms of another woman.
During the pain-ridden days after Steven left, Judy first heard Kenneth Copeland teach on being redeemed from the curse of the law. She had hurried to her Bible and looked it up for herself. Sure enough, Deuteronomy 28:30 listed one of the curses under the law, "Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her..." (The Amplified Bible). Wife or husband, infidelity was all a part of the same curse.
Then she flipped the pages of her Bible over to Galatians 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree...."
Judy's heart leapt within her. Christ had redeemed her from a broken marriage! She decided then and there to believe the Word and not her circumstances.
Three times in 2 1/2 years since he'd first moved out, Steven had returned home. But even then, though they lived under the same roof, he and Judy remained poles apart. He never gave up the other woman, and Judy never gave up the Word. They had nowhere to compromise.
"Steven went for weeks without even talking to the children," Judy remembers. "The Lord gave me Mark 11:23-24 to stand on, about speaking to the mountain to be removed and be cast into the sea. Then He showed me verses 25-26, 'And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.' "
Judy had a lot to forgive and she knew it wouldn't be easy. But she had to do it. Her entire stand of faith hinged on her willingness to forgive - not just Steven, but the other woman as well.
"It was tough," Judy recalls. "She would call and harass me, saying that Steven didn't love me and that I was a bad wife to him. The Lord kept reminding me of 1 Corinthians 13:8, 'Love never fails...' (The Amplified Bible).
"Finally, I talked her into meeting me in person. When she stepped out of her car, I just walked over and put my arms around her. I explained that I didn't have anything against her, but I knew Steven would come back to me. I couldn't afford to be bitter and I had to walk in love."
Sitting now outside the courthouse, Judy wondered what she should do. Despite 2 1/2 years of prayers and forgiveness and her faith that their marriage would be restored, Steven had divorced her. Should she give up that faith now? Was the divorce court's pronouncement the final decree?
That night, Judy turned her Bible to the now familiar passage in Malachi 2:14:
Yet you ask, Why does He reject it? Because the Lord was witness [to the covenant made at your marriage] between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously and to whom you were faithless. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant... (The Amplified Bible).
Judy rolled the last few words of that passage over and over again in her mind. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant. Divorced or not, Judy knew God still recognized her as Steven's wife.
"I realized God would not override a person's will or manipulate him," Judy explains, "so I was careful not to pray that way. I prayed against the god of this world who had blinded Steven's eyes. I asked the Father to speak to his heart." It would be years before Judy knew specifically how those prayers were answered.
In the meantime, one of the most difficult things for Judy was watching their children, Kirstin and Kyle, suffer from the lack of their father's attention. She began to pray Malachi 4:6 over the situation, "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse" (New American Standard).
The hardest day for Judy in each passing year was their anniversary - Valentine's Day. Steven had always gotten her wonderful cards, and each year he'd told her that their marriage was so special the whole world celebrated with them. Now she spent those once-precious Valentine's Days alone.
In May 1981, four years after Steven moved out, he phoned with the news she'd prayed for so long. "Hi," he said, "I got saved last night."
He spoke the words matter-of-factly. There was no fanfare. No fireworks. But Judy knew those words would eventually change everything.
Once Steven accepted the Lord, the relationship he was in didn't work anymore. Soon, he moved out of the woman's house and into his own apartment. Gradually, he began spending more time with Judy and the children, but he made it clear that he still maintained his friendship with the other woman.
"I wanted to challenge him on his relationship with her," Judy admits, "but the Lord reminded me that He allows the wheat and tares to grow together until it's time for Him to separate them."
By now, Judy had spent many hours a day studying the Word. She was growing rapidly in the Lord. "I wanted Steven to be the spiritual leader," she explains. "So I prayed, telling the Lord that I didn't want to be the head of our household. Afterward, every time I saw Steven, he had grasped some new revelation that had taken me years to learn. His growth in the Lord was fast and solid."
Before long, Steven began attending church with Judy and their children. He developed the habit of staying over for Sunday lunch and spending the afternoon with them. Sunday night they drove separate cars to church. Afterward, Steven always kissed Judy goodnight before sending her home.
As weeks stretched into months, Judy fought impatience. When is the breakthrough going to come? she wondered. Then one afternoon, as Judy listened to Kenneth Copeland tapes and painted her garage, she heard the answer. Without warning, the Holy Spirit spoke four words that took her breath away: It's not many days.
"I constantly had to resist the urge to take things into my own hands," Judy admits. "So instead of getting excited and overeager, I told myself that with God a day is as a thousand years. I turned off my emotions and simply painted the garage."
Eight days later, Steven phoned. He wanted to see Judy - alone. When he arrived, he was choked with emotion. "Judy," he said, "I've been such a jerk."
"God has forgiven you, and I've forgiven you," Judy answered.
Finally, as though from a far distance, Judy heard the words she'd waited four long years to hear. "I love you, and I'd like to spend the rest of my life with you."
"I had to be careful," Judy explains. "I knew that love wasn't enough. Steven had to know it was God's will for me to be his wife. I had to be certain that during the next storm he'd stand on the Word instead of his emotions."
"Besides love," Judy asked, "why else?"
"You're a wonderful mother," Steven said.
"Well, I wasn't going to say this, because it isn't romantic, but...I spent the weekend in a tent praying and listening to God, and I know it's His will for you to be my wife!"
"Yes!" Judy screamed and tumbled into his lap.
On October 23, 1982, Steven and Judy were remarried.
"The Lord healed our marriage," Judy says, "but there was one detail that still bothered me. I felt cheated out of our special anniversary date. When I prayed about it, the Lord reminded me of Joel 2:25, 'And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm....' "
A few years later, on Valentine's Day - their original anniversary - Steven handed Judy a card. When she opened it, her gaze fell to the words he'd written there. Reading them she felt as though warm oil was pouring over her, healing every emotional scar that remained from the separation and divorce. The card simply said, "On this day in 1970, God gave me His best."
Today, the Myers celebrate their anniversary once again on a day so special the whole world celebrates with them. Both Steven and Judy are active in their church. Judy, Kirstin and Kyle all teach Sunday school. Steven teaches a Bible study, is a deacon, and both Steven and Judy are Care Team leaders in their church.
What does Judy have to say now to others who are navigating rough marital waters? "If you want to weather the storms of life without being completely destroyed, you must build your life on the Word of God. I learned that early from Brother Copeland.
"He was teaching from Luke 6:46-49, where Jesus told the story about the person who hears and obeys the Word. Jesus said that person is like a man who, building a house, dug deep and laid his foundation on a rock. When the flood arose and the torrent broke against his house, it could not be destroyed because of its secure foundation.
"But the person who merely hears the Word and does not put it into practice is like the man who built his house on the sand. When the storm arose against his house, it collapsed immediately.
"I didn't know the Word when the storm struck my marriage. Our relationship wasn't based on godly principles, but on infatuation, so when I started basing my role of wife on the Word it was like building a house during a hurricane.
"Still, I laid hold of Jesus' promise and believed the storm could not prevail if I acted on the Word. Jesus said, '...In the world you have tribulation...but...take courage...for I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm, have conquered it for you]' (John 16:33, The Amplified Bible). It's not easy to build a house while the wind is blowing and floodwaters are rising, but it's possible through faith in God's Word.
"The Word works. It is the Manufacturer's Handbook containing prescribed repair and preventive maintenance for successful living. It will work for whoever puts it to work."
It certainly worked for the Myers. In their lives it proved to be powerful enough to overturn divorce. In their lives the Word became the final decree.
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