Rick's Grace Story
Many people wonder if faith has any place at the office. Some have even concluded that it does not belong, or are in an environment where “don’t talk religion or politics” is the unwritten rule of engagement.
The following is a story about how a few people took a risk at the office, and their faith collided with Rick's out-of-control life in the most powerful way imaginable. It is a story which he has likely told a thousand times. It is a story of hope and change ... about how no one is too far away to be reached by the love of God. Read Rick's story in his own words.
Sunday Morning Faith
I grew up in what I thought was a Christian home. My parents were actively involved in a church, and from an early age, I remember attending with them. Rather than teaching biblical truth, I now understand that this church taught that if you’re good, you’ll go to heaven. Since I wasn’t that good, and since that was my church context, when I was off to college, I began spending my Sunday mornings quite differently.
I completed college and started my career. I quickly advanced, running businesses of my own, and was financially successful. In my mid-30s I met and dated Sara, whom I wanted to marry. Thinking of what I had already established, I thought it wise to protect myself and insisted she sign a prenuptial agreement. Sara obliged, and we began our married life together.
When our children came along, we felt like we should find a church. We began attending a church with a similar, empty theology as my childhood church. I even served on the Board of Trustees. All this time—from my youth until mid-40s—I thought I was a Christian. The truth was that I really didn’t know who God was or what He said in His Word. And I certainly wasn’t living in a way that reflected His design for the good life ... particularly in respect to marriage.
Over a number of years, I had been unfaithful to Sara. What happens when a bond between husband and wife is shattered? You make it official; after 14 years of marriage, we pursued divorce. I was in my late forties, had business success, owned a nice home and cars, enjoyed financial stability, but my life was in shambles.
An Office Lady and a TV Evangelist
Around this time, a few women who worked for me began challenging me on my faith and how a Christian can get divorced. Although I brushed it off, I couldn't escape this question in the quietness of my head and heart. I went to visit the pastor of my church where I served on the trustee board and shared that my marriage was ending. I expected him to ask me to step down from my position, but he assured me it wouldn't be a problem and didn't ask any questions.
One of the ladies from my office eventually gave me a video to watch along with some Christian reading material. That weekend, I watched the video of a television evangelist. This would normally have completely turned me off, but I continue watching because it was the first time I'd heard the gospel when it wasn’t highly emotional. The pastor was intelligent, calm, and genuine. I eventually learned that his sermons were broadcast on Sunday mornings, and I found myself watching him each week for about four months.
In August 1998, as I was watching Charles Stanley yet again, I came to the conclusion that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I fell down by my bed bawling and cried out asking Jesus Christ to come into my life. While it was a monumental day in my life, everything didn't change in that moment. Three weeks later, Sara and I finalized our divorce.
The Pathway Back
After my conversion, the women in my office bought me a study Bible. As I regularly read it and continued listening to Dr. Stanley’s sermons, I began understanding more about how God desired me to live. Little by little, I became more aware of sin in my life and my need for God. I also made it a priority to find a church that taught truth about Jesus.
About four years after Sara and I were divorced, I had started spending more time praying and more time listening to God. For weeks I prayed and read, waiting on God to do something. A clear prompting from the Holy Spirit came out-of-the-blue—I should remarry my ex-wife. This meant that I had to end a relationship with the woman I'd been dating. She knew that my new-found faith in Jesus was stronger than my interest in pursuing a relationship with her.
I sought counsel with my pastor, who understood the dynamics of my relationship with Sara. He encouraged me and shared that what I felt God was leading me to do was biblical according to 1 Corinthians 7. I revealed to him that I had been unfaithful to Sara. I also shared that I thought she had become a Christian but did not know for sure. He asked me an extraordinary question of whether I had asked for her forgiveness. More than just apologizing, I needed to first seek Sara's forgiveness before any consideration of remarriage.
That evening, I asked Sara to forgive me. Our conversation was tearful, and she replied that she could forgive me but didn’t know if she could forget.
God continued to convict me that I needed to reconcile with Sara, not just seek her forgiveness. I wrestled with that, knowing that He would have to change our hearts. In time, I sensed the Lord moving, and I drove to her house and asked her to remarry me. Sara laughed, telling me that we were happy with our separate lives. I asked her to pray about it and to meet with my pastor. Sara obliged, meeting with my pastor and even agreeing to attend an upcoming marriage conference at my church. While this was a step forward, I felt a lot of uncertainty. I asked that my Sunday school class to pray for us as we would attend this conference together.
When we arrived at the conference, it seemed like all eyes were on us. The morning was very painful and difficult to attend. By lunchtime, Sara was done and wanted to leave. On the way out, I shared with the speaker that we were leaving early. He was aware of our situation and asked if he and his wife could pray with us before we left. After a tearful time of prayer, we decided to stay for the afternoon.
While Sara appreciated the conference, she was not interested in marrying me again. I asked her to pray about it. During a conversation weeks later, she asked me why I wanted to be married again when I didn't really love or like her. I replied that God was asking me to remarry out of obedience.
After a month, Sara shared this with me: “I’ve been thinking about this and I want to get remarried and I want do it next week.” My mind was reeling from her sudden change of heart. I wondered if she was serious or calling my bluff. When I accepted, she asked a follow-up question about a prenuptial agreement. I replied that since we were never going to get divorced, there was no need for a prenuptial agreement. One week later, in May 2002, we got married for the second time.
Rebuilding a Relationship
Building our marriage wasn't all roses and candy hearts. During the months leading up to our second wedding, I heard that when couples get remarried to each other, 90% of those marriages fail again. This made me quite concerned. I also heard another statistic, however, that when Christian couples pray together daily, less than one-tenth of one percent end up divorced.
Although it was uncomfortable for us at first, we began the discipline of praying together every night. I quickly figured out that it's impossible to genuinely pray with someone when there is tension or anger between you. We kept very short accounts with each other because we prayed together daily. I also paid special attention to Sara, picking up on things she shared with me and remembering to pray about them during our prayer time. After a while, she realized I really was listening to her. This was helpful in softening our hearts toward each other and healing our marriage. It placed God right in the center of our relationship.
I knew I had hurt Sara terribly, so I assumed that she would have difficulty trusting me. Being sensitive to this, I deliberately put myself on a short leash so she wouldn't ever wonder what I was doing. If I was going to be even 15 minutes late, I called. I made it a habit to not have social conversation with another woman without Sara present. As I tried to remove all doubts, her trust in me began to rebuild.
A couple years into our second marriage, we walked through a very difficult situation with one of our daughters. Through this crisis, we both turned to God and to each other. It forced me to really deepen my prayer life. I saw God use a circumstance that could tear us apart actually knit us closer together.
Once Sara and I were remarried, I became extremely active at my church. I was involved in Bible studies and groups that continually placed me around other men who sought to live for God. I made myself accountable to other men and told them about my weakness, my failures, and how God had turned a selfish businessman into someone who loves Jesus and his wife.
This journey produced not just a healthier marriage, but a more intimate walk with God in every aspect of my life—praying; investing and giving money; interacting with family, friends, employees, and business associates. I've learned that the only way to truly have life (1 Timothy 6:11–19) is to know Jesus Christ.
Sara and I have been open about our story of God’s incredible work in our shattered lives. This has led to many couples sharing their own stories of brokenness with us. God has used us, not because of our greatness, but because this story of hope is a picture of the great remodeling that God can do in people's hearts!