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Though it seemed their divorce was final, God reunited the hearts of GARY & FAYE WHETSTONE

 

When divorce seemed to be the final act of separation, God miraculously softened the hearts of Gary and Faye Whetstone and brought them back together.

By Gary Whetstone with Lee Grady

 

I couldn't escape those words. They reverberated inside my consciousness as if some incessant broadcast signal had been implanted in my brain. Each time I heardFaye's voice repeating the phrase, the loneliness and rejection weighed heavier. Why? I would ask myself, straining to shut out the memories. Why did I let this happen? Why didn't I try to fix things when there was still a chance? Why did I drive myself so hard at work and forget about Faye and the kids?

“I don’t care about you any more, Gary.”  

No form of physical abuse could have devastated me more than the impact of Faye's words. I felt as if I were hemorrhaging emotionally. I had failed as a husband. I had failed as a father. At times, Faye's bitter indictments were joined by a chorus of negative voices from the past: "The first marriage always ends in divorce, Gary...All your relatives go through divorce...It's the second marriage that usually works o

Divorce  
 

As hard as I had tried to avoid the word, it was now staring me in the face. The curse of failure that I feared most of my life seemed to be closing in on all sides. The marriage was over. I had crossed the line once too often, destroying her trust and wrecking our relationship.

At last Faye had reached her breaking point. I had a history of mental illness as a teen, and my unpleasant experience with marijuana at a party one night had given her plenty of reason to believe that I might once again have lost my mental competence. One look at that eerie, wild-eyed expression on my face, and she deter mined that she would not subject her self or our two toddlers to my unpredictable behavior. She threw me out of the house and even secured a court order to keep me away from our children, Eric and Laurie.

Faye's resentment evolved into cruelty over the ensuing months. Not only was she deliberate about her lack of affection for me, but she flaunted the fact that other men were sleeping in the bed that I once called my own. She even attacked my very manhood, telling me that I had no longer satisfied her.

Wrong Side of the Tracks  

This wasn't supposed to be happening to me. I had given my life to the Lord back in 1972 and was baptized in the Holy Spirit during the most difficult days of our separation. But getting my heart right with Jesus certainly didn't make all my problems disappear. I felt trapped in a complex web of mistakes that Faye and I had both made, and all I wanted was the easiest escape route. In fact, suicide began to appeal to me as a realistic option. I was willing to do anything to exit my nightmare.

Even born-again people can commit suicide. I know, because I came close to doing it. Satan will deceive and con fuse anyone he can, and I was a prime target back in 1975. I was too overwhelmed by Faye's animosity and too immature in the knowledge of spiritual things to resist the devil's strategy. So in the fall of that year, while I was wallowing in depression, I drove my Volkswagen onto a railway crossing in Wilmington, Delaware, one night and shut off the engine. I planned to wait there until a train would pass by and end my troubles forever.

But as I waited, nervously straining to hear the faint trill of an approaching train, I heard a voice from within me say, "Gary, you will not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord." I had only begun to recognize that voice, but I knew in the stillness of that moment that the Lord was with me. When I heard the clacking and the rumbling of the train approaching through the darkness, I braced myself against the steering wheel and cried out in anguish, "God onlyYou can deliverme."

The thunderous vibrations of the train passed by. Nothing had happened. The huge locomotive had sped past my car on another set of tracks, only a few feet from where I was parked. I later learned that the train had been rerouted temporarily for some repairs.

That night signaled the beginning of my deliverance. Over the course of the next two weeks, which included time in a private mental clinic, I met with a local charismatic pastor who told me I was tormented by demonic spirits. Teaching about the work of demons was all new to me, but in my hopeless condition I was willing to try anything. He arranged for another Spirit-filled believer to join with him in casting out the spirits that had been driving me to end my own life.

It seemed too simple at first. But during the next week I realized the haze that had clouded my mind was gone. I could think straight, and I began to see how Satan had been working to destroy me—and my family.

My despair began to subside, and in its place came a kind of inner fortitude I had never known. I felt strengthened with a new conviction and resolve. I began to sense the joy of the Lord. I didn't know it at the time, but God was preparing me for one the most tumultuous spiritual battles I would ever experience.

The Real Fight Begins  

My situation looked absolutely hopeless from the outside. All Faye wanted was a divorce, and she reminded me of that every time I dropped by the trailer to visit the children. But an unusual grace rested on my life at that point that seemed to shield me from her boisterous berating. She did everything she could to make me angry, but I was too intent on seeing our relationship healed to react to her emotional outbursts.

It was during the intensity of those days that I learned about spiritual war fare. The Holy Spirit taught me how to pray for Faye, and He constantly encouraged me that the love of God which was dwelling in me—would overcome my wife's bitterness. As I continued to pray and meditate on various scriptural promises of victory, an overcoming faith began to grow inside me. Even when my circumstances looked absolutely irreversible, I refused to accept defeat. I knew the Lord would change Faye's heart.

At that point in our stormy relation ship, Faye was just as obstinate in her determination to shove me out of her life as l was bent on saving the marriage. On several occasions, she made it very clear that one of her boyfriends would be coming over to the trailer to spend the evening.

On one such occasion, I left her house but secretly returned minutes later while the guy was there so I could stand outside the modest mobile home and pray. Laying my hands on the out side walls of the trailer, in Jesus’ name I commanded the bond between Faye and her partner to be broken.

Surprisingly, I felt no resentment toward my wife during those awkward moments. Some men might have just as easily stormed into the trailer with a shotgun, but there was no sense of vengeance in my heart. Instead, I thought about God’s broken heart over wayward Israel, and how He compared His love for them with the love of a man for his adulterous wife. It gave me insight into the depth of forgiveness that Jesus offers each of us, and how He had forgiven me for my own immoral behavior.

It wasn't long before Faye began to acknowledge an interest in spiritual things. She even started going to church and eventually made a commitment to Christ, though she still didn't want to go to church functions with me. She would not even consider making the marriage work. Divorce was still her goal.

Outside Pressure  

In fact, divorce seemed to be every one's goal for Faye and me. My Christian friends were convinced that I should pursue the dissolution of the marriage, and they always had scriptures to bolster their opinions. Even church leaders usually counseled me to let Faye go."After all," they said, "she's the one who wants out."

But I was still undaunted. I knew it could work. I had to remind myself constantly that God is the God of the impossible. I knew He was the Restorer of the breach. I knew that what He had joined together, no man or woman could separate, despite what either of us might have done to destroy our marriage.

In 1976 Faye began attending a charismatic prayer group clear sign to me that the Holy Spirit was working in her life. The prayer gathering itself, however, wasn't the healthiest environment for her because six different couples involved in the group were also going through divorces. They were leaning on one another for emotional sup port—and praying that the legal details in each divorce case would be worked out! I didn't understand why Christians couldn't simply stand on God's Word and believe for reconciliation. Again, I found myself praying against the negative spiritual forces that were driving Faye to accept divorce as our only option.

At times it seemed that Faye and I were engaged in a fierce battle of will power. As I continued to love her, the emotional walls she had erected during our years of pain began to crack. But just when her heart would soften a bit, she would react again in her typically boisterous manner, constructing another defense. When I naively promised her in early 1976 that I would give her anything she wanted, she coldly informed me that all she wanted was a divorce, thank you and she wanted me to pay for it. "Faye, I love you, and God is going to put our marriage back together," I said gently. Infuriated, she shot back: "You're weird, Gary. I'm never going back to you.. I don't love you any more."

I gave Faye exactly what she wanted--an all-expense paid divorce that included ownership of all our possessions. But when I stood before the judge, I made sure that he and everyone else nearby knew that I was still not accepting defeat. I quoted a scripture in the courtroom that day that had been a watchword for me throughout the time I had been engaged in this spiritual battle:

"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11).

After I confidently quoted the passage, I told the judge that I wanted it on court records that I would allow Faye to remarry only me. The judge probably thought I was some kind of fundamentalist fanatic, but I didn't say it for his benefit. It sounds peculiar, but I was, in fact, making a declaration of faith right there in a court of law. I was announcing to the spiritual powers around me that I would not tolerate Satan's designs for my life. Although the papers were signed and the state of Delaware now considered my marriage terminated, I was not accepting the divorce. I knew God was in control. As we strolled out of the courtroom that day, I asked Faye to go to lunch with me.

"After all," I told her, "we're not married now, We're free to date."

Faye was actually bewildered by the way I treated her. As hard as she tried to resist, the love of God continued to melt her heart and short-circuit all her excuses. I would send flowers and notes, and shower her with affectionate remarks that, for all practical purposes, shouldn't have originated with a man who had been through so much pain with his wife. But I had forgiven her, and I was praying she would forgive me as well.

After all, I knew I deserved all the mistreatment. During the first years of our marriage, when my drive for a promotion at the Chrysler plant was so consuming, I had neglected Faye and the kids. But now, I only wanted her to see that Jesus had changed me.

The Power of Love

I visited Faye and the children as often as possible after the divorce, always offering to vacuum or fold laundry or baby-sit, and I could tell that she was beginning to warm up to my calculated advances. At some point during that spring, Faye began a period of deep soul-searching. God's love was finally touching the most sensitive places of her broken heart, and she wasn't rejecting me as quickly or reacting as harshly.

In time, remarriage actually became a clear option for Faye finally! But as she considered the decision, she realized it was more than just forgiving me and recommitting herself to me. It was a deeply spiritual decision that involved her relationship with the Lord.

She was scared to death. But she knew that the spiritual breakthrough she needed could not occur unless she decided to trust God and marry me again. As we both chose to forgive and restore each other, the memory of the sin, disappointment and pain was erased by the blood of Jesus. That was the most beautiful thing about our "second chance": This time, Jesus was the foundation of our marriage.

When Faye and I finally remarried in July 1976, it wasn't all romantic bliss. We still had our rough times. We had to spend long, laborious hours talking through our differences, and we had to learn to trust each other all over again.

But this time we knew it was different. We considered our marriage commitment irrevocable, and we wouldn't allow the word "divorce" to be spoken in our home.

Much has transpired since Faye and I were reunited 15 years ago. Several years later, after sensing a call into the ministry, we sold our business, loaded the kids into the car and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend Rhema Bible Training Center. Our training there prepared us to return to Wilmington and establish a church. Today, as the Holy Spirit has touched the lives of many hurting people, Victory Christian Fellowship has grown to be the largest charismatic church in the state of Delaware.

Many marriages have been restored as a result of our testimony. People in our area have heard about our story, and many couples who were in the midst of marital turmoil have come to our church altar to seek God's intervention. Faye and I don't lay any kind of legalistic formula on them about divorce and remarriage because we realize everyone's situation is unique. Instead, we're there to pray for them, instruct them in God's Word and impart the Holy Spirit to their lives.

Even so, when people hear how God healed our marriage, they have to face the fact that God's forgiveness can totally reverse any situation, no matter how insurmountable the odds may appear.

I know, for the same woman who used to scream at me, "Gary, I don't love you anymore!" is now by my side again, proclaiming her love for me. Today she is my devoted wife and our congregation's beloved "Mama Faye." Our past of disappointment, neglect and adultery has been washed away--and the power of God's love has made all the difference.

Gary Whetstone's church, Victory Christian Fellowship in Wilmington, Delaware, has a weekly attendance of about 1,500. His wife, Faye, along with their children, Laurie, 16, and Eric, 17, are actively involved in church ministry. Lee Grady is assistant editor of National and International Religion Report in Washington, D.C.

When the Whetstones remarried, Gary's wedding band was engraved with a special design. The emblems represent "It only takes one"--the Whetstones' motto in counseling couples.

What God put together, man could not put asunder. The Whetstones, now co-pastors of Delaware's largest charismatic church, know firsthand that prayer and faith in God restored their marriage.

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