Charlyne Cares is a daily reminder that God cares and that we care about your marriage. Each morning Charlyne sends a devotional and Bob does a Prodigal Perspective on Tuesdays. These come from someone who has experienced the tragedy of divorce and the triumph of a family restored by God speaking to Charlyne's heart not to give up on their marriage after she divorced Bob.
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Today's message is from Bob who was a prodigal who returned home and was remarried to me for an additional 23 years before the Lord took him home to Heaven. Bob wrote 19 books from the prodigal's perspective for more than two decades after our divorce and remarriage.
I am sharing a small book this week that Bob wrote for standers that were facing being alone during the month of February. It is a fiction book that will teach you many things about standing and God's amazing love. I pray that you will be blessed and encouraged as I have also enjoyed reading it again this year. - Charlyne
The Greatest Lover - Part 1
By Bob Steinkamp
"What an ending! These last two minutes will go down in history!" The voice from the television screamed at Jesse Richardson, but he wasn't listening. Jesse was not really watching the television and those last minutes of the Super Bowl. He was staring aimlessly into the Michigan winter, at the snow-covered branches on a tree outside the warm family room where he sat.
Our friend Jesse thought that he had everything any man could want. For the past two years he had been the leading salesman for Beltone Casket Company. A new red Mustang, Jesse Richardson's Christmas gift to himself, sat in the Tremonte garage. He had money in the bank, nice clothes, good health, and a woman who really cared about him.
Christine had arranged their own private Super Bowl Party. She had decorated the family room and had made sugar cookies, cut out with an empty can squeezed into a football-shape. She had even taken the phone off the hook for that Sunday afternoon. Everything seemed perfect, yet deep inside Jesse felt as dead as the tree that he was watching so intently. Something just wasn't right.
"Honey, if it is still tied at the end, will they have to play the game all over next week?" Christine asked.
"Stupid questions," Jesse thought, "all she can ask are stupid questions. If she hasn't learned football in her first 40 years, she won't learn it now." Jesse mumbled an "unuh" answer, as he shifted his weight in the big brown recliner chair. He had never been comfortable sitting in that chair.
"Maybe this chair is why I'm so miserable," Jesse thought. "It just doesn't fit me right. I need to buy one this week that looks like it, but would be my own," he thought, as if sending an email to his memory.
The chair had been a fixture in that household long before Jesse came into the picture. Bud Tremonte, Christine's husband, had spent many an hour in that chair. Their twins, Allyson and Ashley, each had their favorite arm for daddy to hold them in that chair. Christine had her special way of bending over that chair to kiss Bud.
The Tremonte twins were teenagers now and Bud was gone. In recent months, that had become Jesse's chair. In fact, Jesse used to have a chair somewhere else, a chair that really did fit him. That chair was in the Richardson’s home. Although Christine attempted to make pleasant conversation about the Super Bowl, Jesse was not listening. He was thinking about his chair in his own home.
Jesse often thought about his own chair, his own home, his own kids, and yes, he thought about his own wife, Barbara. Although he assumed that no one knew, he thought about his family often. Reminders of Barbara raced into his mind at the strangest times, even during these last two minutes of an exciting Super Bowl.
Those thoughts about Barbara were not simply passing thoughts to Jesse. They often were overwhelming thoughts that were difficult to cast aside. They were always thoughts of good times as a family. Even through all those thoughts about home, Jesse had trouble recalling exactly why he had left home last summer. The words used by his attorney in the divorce petition seemed strangely foreign to him. It did not seem that he was really describing Barbara.
As they were counting the seconds of the game down and fans were screaming, Jesse thought about all that had happened to bring him here - to be sitting in Bud's chair. Jesse's mind fought hard to override the guilt that always accompanied this recollection.
Christine had been the secretary at Christian Funeral Home for several years. That firm was Jesse's largest Beltone account. He frequently took Jonathan Wellson, the owner of the Christian firm, out to lunch on his Beltone expense account. Last January or February, Jesse had called on the funeral home on a day when they had several services scheduled.
Jonathan had to decline lunch that day, but Christine had innocently commented to Jesse, "You never take me out to lunch." A few minutes later, they were sitting together in a nearby restaurant. Before that lunch, Jesse had never really talked to Christine, apart from friendly conversation. He knew from the family photo on her desk that she must be married and have twins.
Both were amazed that day at how much they had in common. They had even ordered the same lunch from the menu, roast beef. Although it was far from the truth for either of them, both Jesse and Christine had implied that their respective marriages were less than perfect. Somehow it seemed that a less than perfect marriage justified a private lunch with someone of the opposite sex.
"I shouldn't feel guilty. After all, this is a business lunch," both had thought at different times during their meal. Neither Jesse nor Christine realized that Satan, the enemy of the family, will do everything possible to destroy homes. He had just made a major inroad into two more priceless families.
After an extended lunch, during the drive back to the funeral home with Christine, Jesse contemplated what he would put on his expense account.
"Jesse, thank you for the lunch. It was fun getting to know you," she remarked, giving his hand, resting on the seat between them, a small squeeze. He experienced that sudden rush, known only to teen age boys, the first time a girl shows an interest in them. That one innocent touch made Jesse feel like a fifteen-year-old.
He did not realize he was about to act like a hormone-driven teenager all over again. The remainder of that day, our super-salesman Jesse, thought that he was having a terrific afternoon. His customers all seemed pleased to have him call and his orders for that day were the best in a month. "Guess some positive conversation at lunch must have been good for me," he told himself on the drive home that evening. "I made Beltone money today, so I don't mind one bit reporting that I took Jonathan Wellson to lunch." Satan must have been pleased to hear Jesse's next comment. "That lunch made two of us feel great and it didn't hurt a thing."
The warm lights of the Richardson home greeted Jesse as he pulled into his driveway. He knew that Barbara would have both a warm kiss and a warm dinner ready for him. Barbara had been a school teacher. Last year, Jesse and Barbara had decided that since he was doing so well in his sales career, she could quit and be a full-time wife and mom to their children, Rachel and Robbie, ages twelve and nine.
Until that day, Jesse had been thrilled to have Barbara at home. Suddenly, for some strange reason, he felt suffocated at the thought of coming home to her. "Maybe she has another of her church deals tonight and will get out of my hair," he thought.
Before becoming a full-time mom, Barbara's church work had been limited, due to her time. She and Jesse had attended church most Sundays. A family Bible lay on their coffee table, but was seldom read. Church had seemed ritualistic and boring to the Richardsons, especially to Jesse. He had always insisted on Rachel and Robbie being in Sunday School every week, but often some task at the Beltone warehouse needed Jesse's attention on Sunday mornings.
Since her "early retirement," as Jesse called it, Barbara had become excited about her involvement at church. She had tried to explain it to Jesse several times, but in his salesman-like way, he always managed to change the subject skillfully. Deep inside, Jesse wondered what his wife had found that brought her such peace and happiness.
"The woman has no life. She gave up her career to stay at home, yet she is happier than I am," he once confided to a golfing buddy. "If I had the joy that she has, I could make a million. I wonder what she found?"
The "what" that Barbara had discovered was really someone, and His name was Jesus. To her, Bible stories about Jesus had always been historical accounts with happy endings. She knew Jesus only to be a "good man" whose example Christians should follow.
Shortly after giving up teaching, Barbara began to attend a woman's Bible study. For some unexplainable reason, she was drawn to the women she met with each week. They all seemed to have a peace that had always escaped her. To them, the Bible was something more than a book on the coffee table. She was amazed at how specific verses of scripture came alive to that small group. Everything taught or discussed at those meetings went right back to the scriptures.
On Barbara's fourth week of attendance, Julie, the teacher in whose home they met, asked Barbara if she had time to stay and help her straighten up. Anxious to discover what made those women seem different, Barbara quickly agreed.
While they were putting away folding chairs and coffee cups, the two women chatted. Barbara had never sensed acceptance in any other group the way she did each Monday morning at Bible study.
"Barbara," Julie began, "each of us is thrilled that you have joined us. How did you find out about our Bible study?"
"I saw a note in the church bulletin. I was searching for some kind of women's group and I was strangely attracted to that notice. To be honest, though, I was skeptical because it said Bible study. The idea of fellowship with other women sounded great. I was certain that someone was going to call on me to read from Second Exididious or something, and that everyone would laugh when I couldn't find it."
"No," Julie laughed, "you won't have to find Second Exididious. You will find a group of ladies who can love you through anything that the enemy tries to bring into your life. Say, did you know that some of the girls have been praying for you since the first time you were here?"
Barbara did not know exactly how to respond. She had heard other ladies in the group pray, and wished that she knew how. She admired each woman, who prayed to God just as if they were speaking to a close friend.
"Thanks, that's-that's nice," Barbara finally stuttered. She was uncomfortable talking about things like prayer, and realized, when the words left her mouth, that she had just said so.
Because He lives,
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My husband came back to me one year ago. He is a Christian now and is completely transformed. This is what I prayed over him while he was away. I had a cross that reminded me to pray for my husband; sometimes two or three times a day. (Texas)
"The checklist for standers you sent out in "Charlyne Cares" is excellent advice. As I read it, God showed me that even with my marriage restored, and in spite of all our problems, I still need to abide by these words of advice on this checklist. Many marriages are broken up because the spouse did not heed to the advice on the checklist and got into a relationship that caused a divorce. The Internet is a dangerous place where the enemy likes to prey on those with troubled marriages and on standers. Thank you Rejoice Marriage Ministries for this checklist that I needed to be reminded of." (Arizona)