Six years have passed since I wrote the last sentence; and twelve years since the episode that took me to Edgemont Hospital. The pain of reliving the past had become so acute that I had to discontinue the story. In the meantime a limited edition of the first six chapters were published. Responses from the readers urged me to continue this account. Enough time has elapsed and enough good things have happened that I can see a shaft of light, even in the darkest episodes of my life. I can remember the past well, but the same sense of urgency to tell you about it, dear Phyllis, is no longer there. My interpretation of the mystery of the wood blossom has even changed, is possibly more accurate, and is a good place to continue the story.
Since we met some six years ago, I have acquired a skill that allows me to make beautiful, carved wooden signs. Not only have I had the pleasure of making many of these signs, but we have also published a handbook of instructions and have taught many others how to make the signs. I am able to take seemingly worthless pieces of wood and by a technique called sandblasting, transform them into objects of beauty, worth, and inspiration.
Now let me tell you how my fantasies concerning the wood blossom changed. On one of the many missionary journeys that we undertook beginning in 1978, we stopped at a Franciscan Mission in San Miguel, California. We had stopped there previously, and the friars knew my fascination with unique shapes of wood. Friar Tom greeted us by saying that he had saved for me a chunk of wood, which he had stashed away in the heater room. We found the splintery piece covered with dust and cobwebs. It did not look like much, and I was even hesitant to find a place for it in our already crowded car. But courtesy and tact had me graciously receive a piece of rough, construction redwood, about two inches thick, twelve inches wide and twenty-six inches long.
On my arrival home, I put the piece of wood in a corner of the garage and forgot about it for several weeks. A young man who was living with us at the time sanded it smooth on all sides. We discovered that it was a beautiful piece of redwood with some rich grains and interesting knots. Finally, I sandblasted the words
All of a sudden I felt that the mystery of the wood blossom had been solved. Now I have the joy of applying my skills not only to castaway wood but also to castaway lives. The wood and the lives I have been allowed to touch have already traveled to the far corners of the world, and maybe one day I shall, too, as I envisioned in my fantasy. You can see that what often is thought of as a psychotic fantasy may be tinged with prophetic truth that takes men of God like Joseph or Daniel to decipher.
“The Fruit of the Spirit is Love” (Galatians 5:22) into the wood. It wasn’t long before our friends, Robert and Joyce Knight, from Lubbock, Texas, claimed the previously splintered chunk of wood as a showpiece for their home. I felt that Brother Tom would like to know the outcome of that ungainly piece, so I wrote him a letter. As I was writing, these thoughts came with great joy and clarity, “You have taken a nondescript, worthless piece of WOOD and have caused it to BLOSSOM.”
The wood blossom itself no longer exists. When Rebekah, my present wife of ten years, saw it, she cringed with pain. She saw in it a grotesque form created by a parasitic attack on a defenseless tree, an attack that eventually killed the tree. I finally gave it away so that it would not torture her delicate soul. Only the picture on the cover of the book has survived. The white line is to indicate the split in my personality – separating the light and dark nature fighting for dominion. This battle goes on in everyone. It is more dramatic and more obvious in some than in others.
Many other seemingly irrelevant experiences in my life have fallen into place. My thoughts about reincarnation are certainly not the same any more. The writings of Kahlil Gibran, especially The Prophet, no longer hold such a pre-eminent place in my library. When psychiatrists today guardedly write down their diagnoses, their words are no longer a threat to me. Like all of us, they know only a part of the truth and need as much help as anyone else. St. Paul writes, “We see through a glass darkly.” Today a mental hospital represents no threat to me, but more nearly a sanctuary. I agree with Paul Tournier when he writes in his book The Healing of Persons:
And our mental hospitals are filled with people whose natures are artistic, gentle, and intuitive, crushed by the struggle to live, incapable of keeping up with the speed of the men of action, incapable of earning their living, defeated by the wounds inflicted on their sensitivity, stultified by their feelings of inferiority and social uselessness, discouraged and lacking faith in themselves.’
I love these people of whom Paul Tournier writes. Many live cloistered and in places set apart for God’s saints. Others live in hidden away places where the world cannot trample them to death. I have met a few of these special saints. I see them as heaven’s special messengers bringing healing in their wings, spreading the fragrance of the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley. This is an account of one of these messengers who descended the staircase into hell and lived to tell about it.
TESTIMONIAL OF A DEAF WOMAN DIAGNOSED WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
I sat in my rocking chair. Pieces of my life lay at my feet, shattered into a million pieces. I was one of those who had been hospitalized for mental illness, labeled a schizophrenic, given tranquilizers, and sent home.
I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord just the month before. Experiencing the joy of the newly reborn, I thought I was on my way. I gave up cigarettes, a habit of six years standing. My life had just begun. I had a church to go to, Christians to fellowship with, and even deaf people (of which I am one) were being ordained to the ministry.
Farmington State Hospital, the scene of much confusion. Patients sat around and many of them smoked to pass the time. Bewildered and disoriented, I took up the habit again. My mother and a friend came to visit. I did not know what to say to them, and so merely chain-smoked.
Given a pass to go home for a few days, I regarded surroundings that should have been warm and familiar as threatening. Used to hospital routine, I got up at 6:00 a.m., dressed, and frantically paced the floor. I was glad to be taken back to Farmington where routine provided the only security I knew at the time.
Soon, I was discharged permanently. My doctor did not talk with me, but relied mainly on nursing reports. I asked Mom, “What happened?” She gently replied that I had been mentally ill. Aghast at this, I cried, “Me?” I had been proud of my mind, my abilities, my drive and motivation. Now, I had nothing except for the love of my mother and grandmother to sustain me.
Days and weeks passed. I sat in my rocking chair and rocked. In my anxiety and depression I rocked so much that I broke three springs. Where do I go from here? Will my friends reject me because I had lost control of my mind? What of those people who had seen me during my breakdown? What did they think? I was desperate. Pride of accomplishment, which had been my mainstay in life, was taken from me. I was naked and vulnerable. People who had been involved in the circumstances of my breakdown had seen my inner self that all of us keep private. This was very humiliating.
Time went on relentlessly. I was not interested in people, books, TV, magazines, nothing. I spent much time staring into space. Why? I had just started to live. I didn’t understand. I cast around, looking for something to hold onto. My eyes fell on a little brown book with Jesus’ words printed in red. “Yes! I want only to know what Jesus said while He was among us so long ago.”
I had not been converted to Christ before my breakdown. I had a full bottle of Thorazine, a powerful tranquilizer. It was not until later that I learned that if I had taken these pills, I would not have survived.
I devoured His words, striving to understand. The words, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me” drew my eyes like a magnet. I read these words over and over again. I felt Jesus was saying to me, “I know you are crushed (John 14:1). I know your heart is broken. I know you do not understand. But, I beseech you to trust Me. Don’t do anything to harm yourself. I ask you to trust Me.”
Hope, real tangible living hope, seeped quietly and surely into my bones. I was on the road to recovery.
Dear reader, I share this story to affirm the reality and power of the Bible. I would like to honestly say that I am not sure I would still be alive today if
The struggle for wholeness continues. I have been hospitalized a few times since then. Problems I still have, and they are sometimes hard to live with. With John 14:1 as a guide, I continue my search for understanding. Counseling is giving me insights to work with.
I would like to end my account with a verse from the book of Psalms: “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalms 12:6). The words of Jesus gave me what I so desperately needed: the word of assurance that He was in control of my life, that He understood; and that I could trust Him with the unanswerable questions. I learned that Jesus is, indeed, worthy of my trust.
Today Rebekah and I live in a beautiful log home at the edge of a lake, surrounded by high, majestic mountains. I pray and counsel with individuals who have become discouraged and confused about their place in life. This, too, was a fantasy that has become reality. Who are we to say that God cannot speak to us through a dream, a vision, a song, a piece of wood, or the grandeur of His creation? God certainly does speak to us in a multiplicity of ways. It is our ability to understand His Word and His ways that is so limited! I would not be able to make many intelligent moves today without the nudging and leading of the Holy Spirit. I have learned to lean on and listen to His Unseen Presence and pray for those whose reality excludes the power and presence of God in their lives.
As I return now to the story that was so abruptly discontinued six years ago, much of the distress is gone. I know that the end is victory, joy, and liberty from fear and anguish for me and others. There is a purpose to suffering that we cannot comprehend until we have passed through the tunnel (I Peter 1:6, 7). I hope you will have the courage to travel with me the rest of the way until we are safely ensconced on Lake Pagosa, where we live today. Pagosa is an Indian word that means, “healing.” Our log home faces east. Thirteen thousand feet high peaks scrape the skyline. We are very happy here and have shared our home with many since our move in 1977. You are invited too, dear Phyllis. Please come. Maybe you will touch the hem of Jesus’ garment in this beautiful setting.
I have met many who, like me, are struggling with dreams and fantasies that as yet are unfulfilled. We need to help each other sort out these dreams, premonitions, and powerful persuasions so that we can accomplish the unique task for which we have been placed in this world. I share my intimate struggles, for I believe they are common to many (I Corinthians 10:13). Knowing that we are not alone, knowing that there is someone who has found a way out of confusion and anguish is often enough for others to take heart and try again.
Almost a year had passed since I was hospitalized in February 1970. I had no desire to try any further volunteer work at any type of hospital. I was confused about what I might do next. I just wanted to read the Bible and be left alone. Any quizzical looks or questions to establish the state of my mental equilibrium were totally offensive to me, especially those from Josephine. The only one I was able to trust and confide in was my therapist.
The relationship with Josephine deteriorated more and more. I did not want to lose her; my prayers were filled with desperation. When Los Angeles was hit on February 9, 1971, with a major earthquake, I was sure it was in response to my prayers. The unexpected shock and damage to our home shifted the emphasis from my mental health to getting our house repaired. For a few weeks our gratitude for being alive and unhurt overshadowed all problems, and my wife and I were reasonably comfortable with each other. I could even handle the fact that our seven-year-old son, frightened by the earthquake, wanted to sleep between us.
Before long the tension in our relationship reappeared and continued to grow. At that time I did not know why, but today I can make some reasonably intelligent guesses. My wife hated religious fanatics, and I was quickly becoming a prize example. The persons I began to call my friends were equally “nutty.” They fasted, prayed in tongues, and had long hair. After being prayed for at the North Hollywood Assembly of God Church, I secretly began to pray in tongues too. When I joyfully shared this bit of news with my parents, they also became alarmed and investigated this phenomenon. Their fears were allayed after reading the book “They Speak with Other Tongues,” by John Sherrill. Several years later, both of my parents received this gift of the Holy Spirit.
Those whom I befriended were able to convince me that I was not sick and was wasting my time and money seeing a psychologist. They said that it was my wife who needed help. On my next appointment, I shared some of these revelations with my doctor. He agreed that Josephine did need help but felt that he was not the person who could reach her. Whether he said this mainly to placate me, I am not sure. I have discovered since then that all of us at times fall prey to the temptation of telling others what we know they want to hear.
The fact that I cancelled further doctor’s visits devastated Josephine. All hope on her part that I might be restored to sanity evaporated. My own conviction that I was on the right track was strengthened by frequent visits to the North Hollywood Assembly of God Church, where my “psychotic” fantasies were not challenged as aberrations of a sick mind. Suddenly I was sane. Others had visions and heard directly from God!
There was only one thought in my mind now: “How can I get Josephine to believe as I do?” I was convinced that in her present state she would go to hell. I had to get her saved! I recruited all my new friends to pray for her. I even wrote to Kathryn Kuhlman on her behalf. And when I received an answer, I slipped the letter under my wife’s pillow. I was oblivious to what I was doing to our relationship. I was single-minded and blind. I was doing everything wrong. Today I would not approach anyone the way I did Josephine. Divorce was looming on the horizon, but I could not see it.
One day Johnny, my son, and I were listening to the song “You Better Sit Down Kids” sung by Glen Campbell. Tears poured down my cheeks as I listened to the words and melody. I sobbed uncontrollably but didn’t know why. My destiny was already sealed. My soul and spirit already knew what my mind could not accept. The song speaks of a father who calls his children to himself for a heart to heart talk. He asks them to sit down and then struggles for the words to share the heartbreaking news that he must leave. He says, “Your momma is staying, but I’m going away, because we, “Don’t see eye to eye.” He reminds the children to say their prayers at night, to stay in line and help momma at every turn. He assures them of his love, asks them for a kiss and then turns to leave with the parting words, “My eyes are just red kids, I’m too big to cry.”
YOU BETTER SIT DOWN KIDS
Lyrics by Glenn Campbell
Better sit down kids
I’ll tell you why, kids
You might not understand, kids
But give it a try, kids
Now how should I put this
I’ve got something to say
You mother is staying
But I’m going away
No, we’re not mad, kids
Its hard to say why
Your mother and I
Don’t see eye to eye
Say your prayers before you go to bed
Make sure you get yourself to school on time
I know you’ll do the things your mother asks
She’s gonna need you most to stay in line
Keep in mind your mother’s gonna need
Your help a whole lot more than she
Ever did before
No more fights over little things because |
I won’t be here to stop them anymore
I know you don’t want this, neither do we
But sometimes things happen
That we can’t foresee
Now try to be calm, kids
And don’t look so sad
Just cause I am leaving
I’ll still be your dad
Just remember I love you
And though I’m not here
Just call if you need me
And I’ll always be near
Well, I have to go now
So kiss me goodbye
My eyes are just red, kids
I’m too big to cry
One man in particular seemed to escalate the alienation between Josephine and me. I listened to his words and prayers as if they were oracles from God Himself. He would frequently take me to prayer meetings that lasted until one o’clock in the morning. I would sneak back into the house like a thief in the night. One day he took it upon himself to visit my wife in order to try to convert her. His efforts only made matters worse. How I cringe today as I ponder the events of the past! Jesus does not coerce anyone to follow Him. He goes before us. My friend was definitely on the wrong track by being so aggressive. I wished I could undo his words and visit. I can’t but I have learned what not to do.
Whenever my soul was in distress, I would call this man. With a few words and a simple prayer, he could allay my fears and distress. I became quite dependent upon him. He became my guru or mentor, so to speak. I believe this gave him a great deal of satisfaction. One time when I desperately needed him, he was not at home. There was no one else to call. In my despair, I cried out to God directly, and He comforted me. From that moment on, my dependency on that friend and others like him gradually began to wane. Today I consciously avoid such dependencies upon human beings for my spiritual, emotional, and even financial wellbeing. I see many others around me today with an
unhealthy dependency on a few friends, even their church. Eventually, many of these friendships are broken, resulting in much heartache and bitterness.
Josephine hated my friend with a passion. Her opinion of me sank to an all-time low, as I looked to him more and more for advice. My growing admiration for Kathryn Kuhlman was also an abomination to her. Once I had the opportunity to attend one of Kathryn Kuhlman’s miracle services at the North Hollywood Assembly of God Church. It seemed as if a powerful, invisible magnet were pulling me to go. My wife considered my admiration for Kathryn Kuhlman totally infantile. We were in spiritual warfare at its highest pitch. I did not attend the service.
The climax to our battle came on Saturday, May 1, 1971. The children were unsuspecting pawns in this struggle as they continued to sleep with us in the same room. The anguish became unbearable; passion and pain came to a climax. I pondered alternatives and finally left the bed quietly to pray in a far corner of the house. “Lord,” I said, “I must have a miracle this night, for I cannot survive this way any longer.” I prayed with urgency and in great desperation. Suddenly I saw, with the eye of my spirit, the fairytale “Sleeping Beauty.” Josephine was Sleeping Beauty. The thorny hedge of rose briars represented the impenetrable fortress to her very rational mind; and I was Prince Charming holding a large sword with both hands. I prayed out loud, and I prayed in tongues. Over and over again I slashed at the hedge of thorns. I was oblivious to everything around me. I did not know how long I had been praying or that Josephine had come into the room and tried to arouse me from my prayer. Finally, exhausted but at peace, I was ready to slip back into bed. I knew I had “prayed through.” But in the family room were assembled two ambulance attendants from Los Angeles General Hospital, a neighbor, and my wife. My spirit was calm and poised. “Maybe someone at the hospital needs to know about Jesus,” I thought. I was ready. I felt God was with me and all around me.
There were harsh words and there were pleading words from Josephine. She must have been very frightened, for in my spirit, I had truly attacked her. I wanted those walls to come down—the walls that imprisoned her soul. How often do we attack those we pray for? “Lord, make them change!” we pray. I was not a man of physical violence, but apparently I could be a man of enormous spiritual violence. Terror filled Josephine’s eyes.
“I cannot compete with your unseen God,” she said. “This is the hour that you must choose between me and Him.” I was compelled to leave my past behind. It was impossible for me to deny the God I had met.
A few urgent telephone calls to doctors and pastors ensued. I gathered up a few belongings and allowed myself to be taken to Los Angeles General Hospital. It was about one o’clock Sunday morning, May 2, 1971. I was calm, almost euphoric on my trip to the hospital. I could not help talking about Jesus to the two ambulance attendants. My relationship with Josephine was severed, but I was as yet oblivious to what had happened between us.
Several doctors examined me but could find no obvious cause for hospitalization. They were astonished that
stupefied. I could not believe what was happening and would not accept it. I remember stepping into the yard. My eyes fell upon a tree that my dad had pruned back almost to the ground. Sap was oozing from the trunk. Only a tiny branch was still intact. I felt like the tree, the life force flowing from me. With the crown of life cut off, with wife and children gone, how could I possibly survive?
my wife had not accompanied me. They recommended that we see a family counselor to resolve our differences. About five o’clock I took my few belongings and walked to a nearby Holiday Inn to call someone to get me. I could not call Josephine. There was an incredible wall between us now, and the thought of asking her to pick me up only instilled fear in me.
I telephoned my mentor. He took me to his apartment where I slept soundly until noon. Then he took me to my home. No one was there. I hurriedly packed a suitcase and took the car that was in the garage. Josephine had gone to her parents with the children. I proceeded to drive to San Diego, escaping to my parents. I felt like Moses being driven out of Egypt.
Two days later the sword came down on my life. My mother woke me gently, and we talked awhile. Then she showed me the divorce papers that had come. I was
Had I written this account six years ago, I would have tried to vindicate myself and possibly would have thrown all kinds of abuse at Josephine. When all manner of pleading was of no avail, a vicious and vindictive side of me took over. It was a part of me that I had never met. For many months I gave it the opportunity to express itself. In a final hour of great anguish and desperation, I took my wedding ring, filed it down until it was powder, and committed the dust to the ocean. I burned a personal letter of anger and anguish and desperately tried to start a new life. I did not protest the property settlement or child custody arrangements. I was too exhausted to fight. Divorce to me represented the ultimate failure in life. I was crushed.
Over the years I have asked myself if this divorce could have been avoided. I look about and see marriage after marriage fail. It seems to make little difference whether or not one or both partners or neither of them believes in Christ. It seems to make little difference whether they are Catholic, Lutheran, charismatic, or whatever. Divorce seems to strike like a vicious enemy who is finding gaping holes in our lives. God did not intend for His children to experience the pain of divorce. Is it possible that our marriage was outside the will of God to begin with and doomed to fail from the outset? It would seem to me that this may be one possible answer to failures of any kind. We ask God to sanction and bless contracts that are entered into without His counsel or consent; and we try to perpetuate them without His knowledge or wisdom.
I remember an incident that stands out and that I would like to relate here. I attended several Christian Businessmen’s breakfasts, where different speakers shared their testimonies. At one of these, the speaker told about his time in prison, how his wife had left him, and how God had miraculously worked to bring them back together. This testimony filled me with a great deal of hope, and I felt that it was specifically directed towards me. After the meeting was over, I approached the speaker, briefly shared my situation, and then asked him to pray for me. I remember the prayer quite well. He asked for a healing of our marriage and for a double anointing of the Holy Spirit to rest upon my life. I felt a great warmth and well being rush over me, and I was confident that the prayer would be answered. For a while, renewed hope sustained me; but I realize today that the prayer was answered only partially. I believe that when we are in the midst of a great tragedy or trial, bending signs and symbols to our preferred interpretations is quite easy. I like to offer this as a warning to those who may have the habit of putting out fleeces to determine their next course of action.
The next two years were very hard for me. For the most part, I prefer to skip them. It was not until I met and married Rebekah that order and wholeness began to return to my life. I spent those two years pretty much as a recluse, reading, swimming, taking walks, and participating in a weekly fellowship of teenagers who had adopted me as their “uncle,” so to speak. I was thirty-eight years old at the time of my divorce, had two sons (eight and eleven), and had been married for fourteen years. My visitation rights were very limited, and I was never allowed to see my boys alone. I had many mixed feelings and much advice about the custody arrangements, but I am happy today that I did not pursue any suggested court action. The children are now adults, and our relationship is sound and loving.
During that intervening period of my life, I felt like a turtle without a shell. I could not look at someone without feeling his pain and confusion, whether real or imagined on my part. I made it a point to be inconspicuous in my apparel and to keep my eyes anywhere but on the faces of others. When I overheard someone relate his problems at a checkout counter, strength and life would flow from me in waves of compassion until I myself was drained and exhausted. It seemed that others could tap into my life force and draw it from me without my willing it to be so. This did not seem right to me. I learned to identify those who habitually would take strength from me and began to avoid them. I also learned how to put up a guard so that few were able to take from me what I was not prepared to give freely. Today I am able to look at my sensitivity as a gift from God.
During this time I read many books, generally dealing with the subject of health. I would peruse the shelves in the library, place my hand on the title of a book, and ask Jesus to direct me. Generally, a feeling of well-being would surround a title, and I would check out that book. I even strayed into the field of art and found that art can be very healing for the soul. I developed a daily pattern, which I reluctantly gave up when I remarried. Every morning I would take my book to the nearby adult community center. I would sit in an attractive patio, read, drink coffee, and enjoy at least one piece of excellent Danish pastry. Then I would swim in a well-maintained, heated pool. This daily ritual would consume generally half the day. Quite regularly, I visited my brother-in-law, who helped to shepherd me through this difficult time. My visit was enhanced by at least one generous glass of wine. I also had a plentiful reserve of my own to help soothe my troubled spirit. I had adopted a comfortable pattern of alcohol consumption that worried my parents.
Once a month I drove to Los Angeles from San Diego to visit my boys, see a doctor who had taken a personal interest in my well being, and attend a Bible study and Sunday evening service. These were very difficult trips for me. I felt like a stranger in my own home. The locks had been changed. It was painfully difficult to have a meaningful visit with the boys when a person acting like a watchdog was always present. I did the best I could but was always terribly shaken after each visit.
During one of my visits, the doctor discovered that my liver was not in its proper place and asked, “How much do you drink, Peter?” I greatly minimized the amount. His examination scared me into sobriety for several years. Now I enjoy an occasional glass of wine when offered one.
Once I asked for prayer from the Bible study group. A number of those present laid their hands on my head and began to pray in the Spirit. Suddenly the group stopped, and one of them said, “You have demons, and they are so deeply lodged in you that they won’t come out. Fast for ten days. This will weaken their hold on you, and then we can cast them out.” They gave me a list of twenty-one demons they had discerned.
I acted upon their suggestion as if it were a doctor’s prescription. After fasting for twenty-four hours, I became very ill and started to imagine all kinds of peculiar things. I decided that their instructions were not valid for me and broke the fast. Since then I have learned that some people have a type of metabolism that makes fasting dangerous for them. I happen to be one of them. Every time I hear a pastor proclaim a unilateral fast for everyone in his congregation, I get very upset. This prescription is definitely foolishness. There are some who are so sensitive about their walk with God that we can easily and inadvertently place condemnation on those who are not supposed to fast. A good book that deals intelligently with this subject is God’s Chosen Fast by A. Wallis. My understanding and attitude concerning fasting is—anytime we deny ourselves that beloved cup of coffee or favorite drink, we have begun a fast.
Praying with many tears is something I remember from that period in my life. Each night before going to sleep I would pray for various situations. As I started to pray, I also started to cry, often sobbing until there were no more tears in me. Exhausted, I finally would fall asleep. For a while, I considered these tears a sign of sensitivity and spirituality. I allowed the tears to flow unchecked. As my life began to assume a sense of order and wholeness, the river of tears gradually diminished. I am reminded of the beautiful promise, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”(Psalms 126:5). Tears are both healing and cleansing. No man is ever too big to cry.
As I review my first marriage, divorce, and time of readjustment and healing, I ponder the power, the problems, and the beauty of the sexual relationship between man and woman. The force that binds two people together in marriage is truly awesome. It can cause the greatest saint to stumble. It is most beautifully bridled and expressed in marriage, but unfortunately it is also misused, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. I have learned that few of us can brag about the purity of our passions and must cry out with the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 5 1:10)
Suffice to say that my need for God became more obvious to me after my divorce than at any other time before that. I became aware of many unclean and impure thoughts that had been neatly tucked away previously by a highly ordered, structured, busy and “successful” life. I came face to face with myself and realized my need for His Grace.
Although the divorce was very painful, it did bring a measure of relief. I no longer had to live up to the expectations of my former wife. I believe two persons can literally drive each other crazy if their yardsticks of “normal” or “perfection” are too different. Had we continued to live together without either of us being willing to accept the other, I believe that we could have destroyed each other, and possibly the children too. Love gives another person room and time to change. We were both stubborn and stupid and blind in our respective persuasions of what would please God.
I seemed to drift rather quickly towards those who loved me just the way I was and whose religious persuasions were similar to mine. It was good to be accepted once more. Every Monday evening I would listen to the songs of a room full of teenagers. They freely shared their problems and their adventures and prayed for each other’s needs. They also allowed me to share my heartaches and prayed very compassionately for my children in Los Angeles. I felt loved by these young people and I began to heal. For many months I held my hand out for prayer until one day a twenty-year-old young girl said, “Peter, you’re a big boy now; start praying for yourself.” I accepted the advice and did.
On numerous occasions I accompanied this group to large youth rallies held at major hotels in different cities. A thousand young people would charter busses and rent a hotel for an extended weekend congress. Speakers like Nicky Cruz, Corrie ten Boom, and Billy Graham, would be invited to address the youth. And there was always a great deal of music. I felt totally at home. On the first trip we drove to Denver, where we rented the Hilton Hotel. As I stepped into the hotel, I remarked to myself, “Strange, just a little while ago I would not cross the street to go to church. Now I have come a thousand miles to attend these services.”