Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)
TITLE: Finally Freedom
By Ruth Thoutenhoofd
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Mom was a talker; Dad was not. He may have been if he’s been given a chance, but with a talkative wife and four daughters, he probably gave up and as he grew older his speech became more and more deliberate, halting, and uncertain. He was a reader.
My older siblings tell me that Dad had a wicked temper when he was young that showed itself in long spankings. The cows learned not to kick during milkings if they valued their hide. He didn’t show this side of himself often, but you didn’t want to get in the way when his frustration boiled over.
Mom was fluent in speech and very funny – with an edgy humour that bordered on sarcasm. She was often caustic with my dad. Everyone respected her and many came to her with their problems. She was a chronic worrier, taking everyone’s problems onto her own shoulders. She was feisty and she and Dad fought a lot, I’m told, early in their marriage. She wasn’t particularly submissive to anyone, including him. At times, in public, I could tell he embarrassed her with his lack of “cool”.
Like I said, they obeyed the rules of the church and took their faith very seriously. As I grew up, there were a few things they and a more liberal group in the church eased up on. But there were no compromises on rules thought to be biblical. They were kept out of fear of God’s wrath and the precarious nature of salvation, which could be lost at any time. Grace and mercy were suspect. The atmosphere was stifling. I did not find God in our religion.
When they were in their fifties, a “charismatic” movement was afoot in our area and they became interested. Of course, there was much discussion about the validity of it, but people were changing and their interest was piqued. One night, finally, they went to a meeting and went up for prayer, asking God to give them anything of Himself that they might be missing. Nothing happened, and they went home. At least they had done what they could.
That night Dad woke up speaking in tongues, his halting speech liberated. When Mom woke up she was filled with love. For everyone! She wrote later that she couldn’t have thought a critical thought about anyone if she’d tried. Their love for God overtook them. They were custodians at the school and Mom propped her Bible on her cleaning cart to feed her spirit as she cleaned. Dad taught Sunday School for the men in their little church and no longer did my mom see his shirt gradually get soaked in sweat as she watched from the women’s side of the church. They were free. It was absolutely astonishing.
They still looked the same. They didn’t start dancing or drinking. Mom didn’t cut her hair or quit wearing her head covering to church. But they were brand new. Grace and mercy were alive and well in their home. They had found the living God.
Soon after, breast cancer was discovered and it was serious. It took my mom’s life when she was only 61. She wrote from the hospital bed after her surgery, “if I can help this poor soul (the lady in the bed beside her) find Christ, it will have been worth it.” She was at peace about meeting her Maker.
Dad was heartbroken of course. In the end, their marriage had become a thing of joy for them. He missed her greatly. He lived to be 87 and never lost what he had found that night in his complete surrender to his God. I don’t know if he spoke much in tongues. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was God’s lavish love, poured out freely on anyone who seeks Him in truth.
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