Living in a Tent (Part 1 of Redemption)
Starting Small (Redemption Part 2)
The year is now 2014, Spring to be exact. My fiancé and I are still arguing quite a bit. Mostly because of my distrust in him. One day, while having an argument, he just looked at me and said, “Why don’t we read the bible?” I had no idea I would ever hear those words come out of his mouth. We had read about several different types of beliefs while living together. We did not have any electricity so most of our time at night was spent reading books to each other, or playing a dictionary game we made up. Manchild (the short version of a nickname I endearingly gave my fiancé) was an atheist. I called myself ‘spiritual’. I believed in a higher power, but I didn’t really know God. He grew up in a church and left it when he was 12 because he saw so much hypocrisy – he had a lot of distrust in the bible. I was in a Mormon church (going without my family) from about age 9 to 11, and stopped going because I didn’t believe in what they were teaching me anymore. However, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders that day when he asked if we should read the bible. I said, yes, absolutely, let’s read the bible and see what happens.
I had a bible that a girl I worked with 4 years early had given me. She had tried really hard to get me into church, but I was very combative with her. I asked a lot of questions that she couldn’t answer, but she gifted me a bible one day, and I had kept it over all those years. Never opened. Still in its little box, my name engraved in the leather. So, that night we opened up that beautiful leather bible to a passage in Ezekiel that we had heard mentioned on the movie Pulp Fiction (funny, huh?). My fiancé was reading it out loud to me, and when he got to the part about ‘no one standing in the gap’, we both just looked at each other with tears streaming down our faces. We were moved right then. The page still has our tear stains splattered on it. That was really all it took to hook us. We kept reading Ezekiel. We read multiple chapters – discussing them with each other until we eventually turned out our oil lamp and went to sleep. Peacefully to sleep.
We had been frequenting the card shop every Friday to play our Magic the Gathering card game. The guys that we had met in December were still playing, too. They told us one Friday night, not long after our delve into the bible, that they were going to be holding a bible study group at the card shop on Saturdays and invited us to come. It took several weeks before we finally decided to go. During those weeks, Manchild and I read the gospels. We were pretty immersed in this new-found love, and now we were reading about Jesus. Oh, how we instantly loved Jesus, and His words. But, being babes, we misconstrued a lot of information. I was looking for answers to all of my questions. Manchild was not interested in attending a church, but I finally convinced him to attend the bible study one weekend in hopes of gaining more understanding. We loved the bible study. The main guy, we will call him Military Man, had such a moving way of praying out loud before the bible study began. His words to our Father were so intoxicating. He truly had a powerful way of praying, and getting everyone ready for the study. We mainly learned about Jesus, and how we are to love one another. We would read scripture a loud and discuss it. The normal stuff.
Military Man invited us back to his house one night after the bible study. We were all standing outside, and that is when we learned that Military Man, his two cousins, and their wives all like to smoke marijuana. I must confess right now, we really liked smoking marijuana, too. We had been smoking marijuana since the first day Manchild and I met. We both had smoked before we met each other. They gave us the ‘go ahead’ to keep smoking pot. They told us that Jesus would smoke pot if he were here today. They even went as far as calling it the manna that God fed to his people. We were all convincing each other in different ways and scenarios that smoking pot was not ungodly. It wasn’t hard to convince any of us either because we were all addicts. We would get together quite regularly to smoke, and be moved by the ‘spirit’…. The talk of love and helping one another turned into talk about which role each person was given by the Lord. This made us feel special. Like we had a purpose for the Lord. We were calling ourselves ‘the remnant’ because an old man came to one of our bible studies one night and said that is what we were. We confessed our problems to one-another. When Manchild mentioned his former pornography habit, the rest of the group confessed to the same habit – even the women! I had no idea that so many people, including females, had this problem. It felt so good to be able to talk about this with other people, and they too, felt relief from their sin, or so they said. They claimed with their mouths that they knew it was wrong.
Eventually, our bible studies at the card shop ended because we had all decided it was too lascivious of a place to hold worship. There were distasteful posters on the walls, scantly clad figurines, dirty magazines, and the place was advertising itself as “Kid Friendly”. The owner of the shop claimed God and went to church. This didn’t sit well with our group leader, Military Man. He actually went to the card shop one day and berated the owner, telling the owner he had dominion over him and that his shop was going to fail. His shop did fail, but it was already on its way to ruins way before that altercation. The bible studies then moved out to our house around a bonfire once a week. Sometimes we would meet at Military Man’s house. Two of the three guys in the group were former military, and soon the study began to be about gathering personal weapons and setting up a kind of commune at their house. The second coming was going to happen at any minute, they would say. All the while, we were still reading to each other out of the bible, but the selection of passages in scripture began to be more focused on darker things. Demons, dominion, power… Word twisting to fit whatever narrative we felt like fit what we were talking about that day. There were mentions of different ‘books’ that weren’t in the bible, but should be.
One day at Military Man’s house, he and his new wife gave the group news that they were pregnant. He was saying it was a miracle from God because both of them had operations to not be able to have anymore children. Military Man has 2 daughters from a previous marriage. His new wife has a son from a previous marriage, but they wanted a baby together, and they told us that they had been praying to God for one. We were very baffled. The wife told us that at her doctor’s visit, the hand of God went in front of the sonogram so that it couldn’t see the baby. She began gaining a lot of weight, too. I didn’t feel like they were telling us the whole truth about that, and a lot of other things that were going on, but I also felt like I could trust these people because they believed in Jesus. They were so excited about the news, it was hard not to be excited with them. Some months would pass and the talk about the new baby slowly calmed down.
Our relationship with the group grew very strong. We truly felt they were a second family. They were there for us whenever we were having difficult times. They would help us around our little neck-of-the-woods. We would have meals together. We would pray together. We played Magic the Gathering together. It was a fun time, most of the time. We were also learning a lot about Jesus – not all of it was mucked up by man’s own opinion. My fiancé felt like he needed to be baptized, and then everyone of us decided we needed to be baptized as the days went on. We prayed about it, and about a month after that we all walked down into the water together and were baptized one by one. My family attended. My mom, dad, and uncle got baptized that day. It was really a beautiful thing. Everything seemed to be fitting together wonderfully.
Two weeks after our baptism, my fiancé and I became husband and wife. Military Man got a certification to marry us, and we were married before the Lord on September 24th, 2014.
It was a very beautiful day. I did not want anyone at my wedding. I only needed Military Man to marry us and his wife as a witness because I felt like I just wanted to be in the Lord’s presence, and give God all the glory in our Holy Matrimony. This really hurt our families, but at the time I felt it was the right thing for us to do. I did not want to be the center of attention, I wanted our marriage to God to be the center of attention. I also remember at this time, only a few days before our marriage when I told my parents that I didn’t want anyone to come, my mom telling me that we were in a cult. She said I was being brainwashed, and there was clearly cult activity going on. The baptism was the first time that she had met the group. She did not like them. Dear readers, I have cut this part of our journey into 2 posts to save you from having to read so much at once. Check out my next post for more depth into what was taking place within our group. Until then, much Love sent your way!