Thirty-one Years and a Stumble (And Other True Tales) by Karen Harper DeLoach
When Karen embarked on her
roller coaster ride from hell, she had no idea where the ride would end.
Thirty-One Years and a Stumble is
a story of loss and pain that could have ended in destruction and divorce. Because God rescued her, it ended in
restoration, and her story is ultimately one of joy and inspiration.
This heart-warming story
is an example of how God can take a destructive, heart-rending situation of our own making and turn it around for our good.
This story reaches beyond the limits of the marriage relationship into all areas of life. The Word of God, like
a ribbon of bright light, is woven throughout the pages, offering life and healing to the reader.
Read excerpt below:
"Thirty-one Years and a Stumble"
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They
are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22, 23
I turned the key in the lock and
pushed open the heavy church door. Cool silence greeted me. The other members of the early morning prayer group had already
come and gone. Outside, the morning sun and crisp autumn air were invigorating. Inside, the damp chill sent goose pimples
racing down my arms.
I walked down the center aisle of the sanctuary and stopped at my usual favorite row. I knelt
down in front of a blue-padded pew, thinking this was just another Wednesday morning time of prayer before heading off for
work. I did not realize that this moment would be a keystone in my life. God, in His mercy, had chosen this time of prayer
to prepare me for the harshest trial of my life.
I began interceding for my family, for my church, for specific
needs of friends. As I petitioned God, He interrupted me with a question spoken directly to my heart. "Karen, am I really
first in your life? If you had to give up everything for Me, would you do it?"
I heard a whisper of breath
and then realized it was my own sharp intake of oxygen that had made the sound. My heart raced to a new beat, and, suddenly,
I no longer felt the cold. The Lord had completely captured my attention.
What do you say in answer to a question
like that? A quick "Sure, Lord!" would definitely not suffice. God Himself was asking the question. Answering Him
carelessly was unthinkable. Besides He would know the truth of my heart no matter what my lips said. Would I be willing to
give up everything for God?
I hestitated for a moment as I pictured my life empty of everything familiar and dear
to me. Muscles in my chest contracted painfully - or was it my heart? I dropped my head into my hands as a hot lump formed
at the back of my throat signaling the tears that would soon flow. Once again, I shivered from the chill in the air.
As I earnestly searched my soul, tears dripped down my cheeks on to the upholstered pew, leaving dark wet spots of blue.
Finally, I knew the answer to His question. I took a deep breath and answered Him.
"Yes, Lord, You are first.
I don't want to lose Bill or my boys. I don't want to lose my home or job or friends. But if I lose everything - as long as
I still have You - I know I can make it."
I recalled a question my pastor had asked the congregation recently.
"Do you love God the most? Do you put Him first?"
Now, I could answer that question. I opened my eyes
and looked up, not really seeing the arched ceiling of polished wood, but picturing God the Father on His throne. "Lord,
I put You first. I love You most!" Warm peace enfolded me.
As I walked out of the church that morning and
drove to work, I had no idea that less than a year later my answer would be put to the test. I would embark on the "roller
coaster ride from hell," losing my husband, home, job, friends, and church in the process. All that would remain from
that period in my life would be my children, and, of course, the Lord.
Thank God that He prepared me that Wednesday
morning when I stopped by the church to pray. He settled it in my mind, months before my life fell apart, that I would be
O.K. as long as I had Him!
And it was true! He was my strength in time of debilitating emotional weakness - my
shelter in the raging storm - my peace in the midst of enemy attack - my hope for the future when my present life was destroyed
- my acceptance when my husband rejected me - my assurance when nothing in life was certain - my closest friend when other
friends let me down - my foundation when my feet were knocked out from under me. I would be able to say with the Psalmist,
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
I could have been consumed
as this fiery trial raged through my life, but God in His mercy showed me compassion. He offered me grace for each new day.
"...great is Thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:23).
Copyright 2000 by Karen Harper DeLoach
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". . . thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for
they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."
- Isaiah 49:23