Ephesians 2:4-5 (New International Version)
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
I was born in NE Colorado. We spent the first 6 or 7 years of my life in a town not too far from Fort Collins; during those very significant influential years I developed a love and dedication for the Denver Broncos. On a serious note it was in Colorado where the Lord convicted me of sin and drew me to Him. I was probably 5 years old when I asked my dad what it takes to get to heaven and right there on a road in the Rocky Mountains in my Dad’s Volkswagen Bug my dad helped lead me to the Lord.
We moved to Oregon the summer I was about to go into first grade. My life growing up was nothing out of the ordinary; I was your typical preacher’s kid perpetually getting into mischief at home, at church, and at school. Growing up as a PK you really learn all the right words to say to keep people off your case, but even so I wasn’t a really bad kid I was just what I like to call “creative” and “roguish”. My relationship with God was an on again and off again thing. It seemed that every summer at camp I would get all fired up and then not too long after that fire would fade, but like I said, I wasn’t a really bad kid so I would just kind of slide my way through.
When I got into high school this was where my relationship with God started to become more meaningful. Although I definitely had my ups and downs I really felt like it was my responsibility to represent Christ the best I could. By the time I was a junior I had a reputation for being a nice kid who was yet still a tad mischievous, but what can I say, I really like to have fun and when you're in a small town you HAVE got to get creative sometimes, but I tried to never focus that energy in being mean or singling anyone out. I had one really strong Christian friend in High School and I believe it was Gods hand for sure we challenged each other tried to keep each other accountable the best we knew how. Together we grew as young men of God.
All in all I had an awesome growing up experience. Looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way, another thing I feel so blessed about is the fact that I grew up poor but I never realized it or cared, I knew things were tight sometimes but I also was able to see at a very young age that God always took care of my family and provided what we needed.
After I graduated high school I moved out to SE Wyoming to go to a little Bible College my sister had been going to. Year one: I went nuts! I had so much fun it definitely hindered my studies, BUT I only failed one class and I'm proud of that! By the time my class left I'm sure that we were responsible for doubling the size of the student hand book rules, they just had to clarify what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior. But even though we were very “Creative,” I have to say that I had never grown so much spiritually in my life. The group of guys that were there that first year will be friends of mine for the rest of my life, and the greatest spiritual impact of my life was with that group we challenged each other immensely. The second year of Bible College I settled down some, not a whole lot but I thought “Man, I'm in my second year of Bible College and I'm still single! What up Wit dat? (Kenon Thompson Esq.)” In some ways there is the natural desire for you to find a mate, and for some incredibly weird reason there is actually some sort of Christian Culture that almost convinces young people that if they don’t find their mate here they won’t ever find them. So year 2 equals new girls that have no idea how retarded I am, “ALRIGHT!” I had matured some from the year before and was more focused on my studies than the year prior. At any rate I ended up dating a girl from Southern Utah and we dated for the next year and a half.
The Bible College was only a 3 year school so in the spring of 2006 I graduated with my degree in Biblical studies, and that summer I was married. The first year we lived in Oregon my mother was going through treatments for breast cancer and we felt like it would be important to live close. My family was blessed with my mother defeating cancer (or as I like to put it, my mom kicked cancers butt!) and at this point my wife really missed her home. My philosophy has always been that it is not where I am that decides my contentment it is my position with Jesus Christ that is the deciding factor. Since I felt like I could be content anywhere I obliged my wife’s desire to live where she wanted. So we moved to St. George, Utah.
I would say from my perspective we had a normal marriage, nothing that I wasn’t ready to work on, even though it may have been uncomfortable at times. But my perspective wasn’t that these are two different live; we aren’t going to automatically have a perfect marriage. I wouldn’t lie and tell you I was a perfect husband and if I am being completely honest, I wasn’t the kind of Godly man I should have been.
The time in Utah in hindsight was not the time where I hoped we would have grown together as a couple, but truly the opposite. As the year progressed my wife slowly distanced herself from me; she got a good job, she was making good money, and she had started spending most of her evenings at the gym. It wasn’t over night but she had really phased me out of her life for the most part.
I had to go out of town for work. I had only been out of town for work one time before and so it wasn’t like it was a regular thing for me to be away. But when I got home after that few days there was something horribly wrong. I thought that she would be excited to see me after the week but she wasn’t even home. I called her and she casually began to make her way home. That night we went to bed and I couldn’t sleep I knew that I was on the fringe of something terrible, but she wouldn’t tell me.
The next morning she went on a long bike ride with her friends from the gym and she left me a note saying we need to talk when she gets back. I knew something awful was going to happen but didn’t know what. When she got back she sat down and told me that she had kissed another man from the gym and that I had the right to divorce her. What goes on in a man’s mind after he has been told news like this is hard to describe, but it’s almost like all of most unimaginable hell on earth has just been poured on his life.
I always thought that that could never happen to me. I had thought that if my wife was ever unfaithful, and that if we didn’t have kids, that would be it. But the reality was even though she wanted a divorce, I thought ‘we can work this out, it will be hard but I can forgive her.’ It was clearly evident that she wanted out and she was looking for an easy way out. She had been convinced that if she is not happy she needs to do what she wants and look for it elsewhere. Sort of like when we moved to UT the grass must be greener and the truth was she was as discontent there as she was everywhere else. Although I was convinced she was a believer, it became harder to believe that as time went on. I understand that happiness is an allusive concept even for the believer; she still was never able to ever find any sort of contentment in anything in her life. Joy and contentment are some of the core elements I believe that a healthy Christian life should have. Many of these things I figured out after the fact but I believe that even our marriage may have been the product of her discontent thinking the next step in her life needs to take place in order for her to be happy. (but I digress)
For the record I chose not to divert into the endless details of what she put me through, the manipulations, the lying, and the lewd behavior. I choose to focus on my gracious God who saved me.
The next period of my life was most certainly the darkest and most terribly excruciating times of my life. All I had really wanted to this point in my life was to settle down and have a family, and truly in the most extreme way my entire purpose was gone. I've heard that when you take away a man’s purpose you give him nothing to live for. At no point did I ask myself “God why are you doing this to me?” the first thing I did was soberly looking at how severed my Christian walk had become. Not that I was living immorally, or being an overtly “bad” Christian but I had become stagnant in my spiritual life.
In the pit of darkness God called me back and gave me the undeserved forgiveness that I had most certainly not earned. I began to read my bible, pray, and I started to read Charles Hadden Spurgeons “Morning and Evening.” And within a few days I found a quote that became a life verse to me. "It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health and business is profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when the spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's countenance is hidden." “COULD NOT THE LIGHT OF MY FATHERS COUNTENANCE BE MORE FURTHER FROM ME” I CRIED? But still that is poor faith reasoned. Had God ever given me reason to doubt Him? Was this God attacking my spirit or the actions of fallen man?
There was also a video on the internet at the time that was a skit with the song “Everything” by Lifehouse. It couldn’t have painted a clearer picture of what I had done and all of these things I had put between God and myself.
There are many things that happen to a person in the pit of despair. For me I was alone. I had relatively no friends in Utah, and now even more so. How on earth could I tell anyone my wife had left me? “Christians don’t get divorced” I thought. There were a few people who I confided in and I will never forget them for all of the encouragement and support they gave. I called my friend Josh from McAllen, Texas who helped me and my cousin/roommate from college Lance. By the grace of God Lance was able to move from Colorado all the way down to live with me. WHAT A FRIEND! How blessed am I!
Another stick in the spokes was that I was from a strong Christian family. Each set of my grandparents had been married for 50+ years, my parents almost 30 years and all of my aunts and uncles were all married to the same spouses. I was so proud of my Godly heritage that God had preserved all of those marriages and now I'm going to blow it. I was so ashamed. I felt so low that I didn’t think they would talk to me. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. My family was so supportive I was blown away (although I shouldn’t have been surprised), My dad through all of this really became one of my dearest friends. We were close before, but God drew us nearer.
The holidays don’t have high suicide rates for no reason, and even though I didn’t get close to that, I truly had almost nothing worth living for at that point in my mind. I called my Christmas “a Whisky lullaby Christmas minus the whisky” if you are unfamiliar with the song it basically it about a guy who comes back from war to find his wife with another man and eventually drinks himself to death. Here my sister and her husband had their second child and what an incredible blessing in contrast to the depths of sorrow we were going through. I say “we” because my family was devastated at the whole situation. Although things were so dark the Spirit was in me, moving me, His presence was the only thing that kept me alive in all honesty.
As time went on it was clearly obvious that there was no benefit to me remaining in Southern Utah. One reason was because I was doing no good; my presence had no affect on her behavior, and the second reason was how long do I remain and suffer here? If I was to run into her with another man I don’t know what would happen. Where do you go when you are ashamed to tell anyone your marriage has failed and that your wife left you? Do I retreat to home with my parents and the Church we attended as a married couple? Or disappear for a while? But why put my family through anymore trials? Somehow my friend Josh in Texas opened his home to me. So I packed all of my earthly belongings and headed south east.
What a relief to leave the forsaking land of UTAH!!!!! (no offense) I'm not sure, but I may have cranked “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd 90 % of the trip. I wish all my trials were through by then but they lingered on for some time. There is a transition that someone goes through when their entire life plan has been ripped away from them. What's next? What do I want? More importantly what does God want for me in my life? I was looking into a lot of different things but the truth was I was too busy playing with my buddy Josh really clearly come up with a plan. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I know this will seem odd but Josh was just what the Doctor ordered! Between the Golf and hanging with his young family and their amazingly intelligent 2 year old girl it was just what I needed to the fullest. I am forever grateful to them, and especially Kimmy (Josh’s wife) who had the patience to let Josh be a kid with me ha! After a few months of letting the good times roll with my homies in South Texas I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to move back to Oregon with my family. The time in Texas was just enough for me to learn how to deal with the reality of what had changed in my life. God was mending my heart, the Spirit was giving me purpose, and direction.
Since it was a 40 hour drive I naturally I decided to make it to my family’s house in Colorado (20 hours away) in one day. And if you have ever driven from San Antonio to El Paso (aka Hellpaso) and then into New Mexico you don’t want stop, you just want it to be done. I spent a few days in Colorado visited family and I was really good. Now the big step is facing all the people who still think I'm married! You would think it would make me feel bad every time someone brought up my ex and I had to explain in one sentence that she left me. Really I had definitely come to terms with that reality, but without fail almost daily for a while I would have to discreetly tell people what had happened. Of course almost every time the person would feel terrible and apologize and I would have to tell them “no, no, no, its fine you didn’t know, don’t worry about it.” It got to a point where I would see someone and knew exactly what they were going to say ahead of time “how’s the wife?” I always loved when people would say “aren’t you married?” rather than “weren’t you married” because I could honestly say “no I'm not married” but I couldn’t say “no I wasn’t married.”
Although pain and loneliness lingered still God kept moving me on, and it was that summer where God gave me a new vision and gave me the desire to serve Him. So after I surfed my life away for a while and learned to live again, and helped save a kid’s life I ended up where I am today in Kansas City, just graduating from Calvary Bible College looking for a place to serve God!
Gods greatest gift to me was that in the pit of despair God didn’t turn His back on me because I was unfaithful to Him, but HE PICKED ME UP! HE CARRIED ME! HE MOVED ME! HE RENEWED ME! HE SUSTAINED ME! HE CHANGED ME! AND HIS LOVE RESTORED MY BROKEN HEART! MY GOD IS SO FAITHFUL ALLOW GOD TO MOVE YOU TOO! THE LIFE HE OFFERS IS ABUNDANCE AND JOY EVEN IN DARKNESS!
One last thing in closing is that without forgiveness you will never move on and Satan will have a foothold in your life until you do. I don’t pretend to know every body’s life experiences or hearts but I can say that when you don’t forgive you don’t move on, and when you don’t move on you live without purpose, and when you live without purpose you live in a hopeless state. God has the highest purpose for your life if you only allow it.
|Zachary Canady, Serving in Kansas City, Missouri|