Black Bags

Connie was upset. She was hearing the ominous rustle of plastic bags far too often. It meant only one thing: her husband was leaving her again. Walking away from the problem. Again. Refusing to face up to the consequences of his actions. Again.

She had not lost count; this was the twelfth time. As usual, he had stuffed his clothes into black bags and stomped out of the front door. She hated the sight of those black plastic rubbish bags. 

Connie and Jared* had met at eighteen years of age, two people with totally different family backgrounds, both moral and social. 

Jared was five years old when his father abandoned the family. He says “I was a brilliant student but my personal life was a tragedy. I became stubborn, proud, self-sufficient and bitter. I isolated myself from my family and I hated my father.”

onnie was greatly wanted, the only child of a wealthy couple. She says “Everything was beautiful, until I was abused by a relative when I was eight years old. I became an insecure, scared and stubborn teenager, always on the defensive. Like my mother, I was always the one in charge.” 

Their marriage was a roller coaster of ups and downs; materially they had everything money could buy; they emigrated and amassed great wealth. As a family with two children, they became accustomed to live with their differences of opinion. Connie became a compulsive buyer and was not pleased when their economy took a downward spiral and Jared made the decision to return to Colombia. 

Connie relates: “We packed our belongings into 250 enormous boxes, and along with all our furniture and furnishings, we needed a very large container to transport our household back to Colombia. My relationship with my husband was bearable because I filled the void in my life with material things. Over the next eight years our problems increased. We were full of venom, resentment and anger. At one stage, in anger, I asked my husband for divorce and he gave it to me. 

When I met the Lord Jesus at a house meeting, there began a change in my manner of living. Little by little, with love and mercy, He brought first me and then my husband and children out of darkness into light. During the time we were divorced we made many attempts at reconciliation. We began attending an evangelical church and were baptized. During those years of desert experience, the Lord spoke to me in Isaiah 54 and assured me of His eternal love to me personally. I clung to that promise although the problems continued and with each move the house was smaller and with less and less furniture. I learnt to depend on Him. 

It was a dreadful day when our two adult children decided they didn’t want to live with us anymore but to return to their birth land. The shame and guilt of having been a bad example to them overwhelmed me and we tried to make a go of things once more. It didn’t work.”

Jared packed the black bags yet again and Connie was alone: no husband, no children, alone in a tiny house with her unpacked goods all around her. She says “I just unpacked my bed, the sofa and the dining room table. I decided to spend time praising the Lord and to be happy with what I had. I tried to go overseas to be with my children, but the door was shut.” 

Connie decided to look for help. Perhaps someone neutral, outside of her church family would help her get things into perspective. That’s when she came to us. 

Our counselling ministry welcomes people with problems like those of Connie and Jared. 

The big question arises. Even marriage problems? You, a couple of single missionaries, what do you know about marriage problems?

The truth is we don’t know, and we don’t have to know, because we know the One who does! 

Connie and Jared came separately. She poured out her frustration. He showed signs of deep depression. The emphasis must never be on the sin, or the difficulty. It must be on the One who has the answer, Who is the Answer. So we accompanied Jared and Connie to the Cross where every problem was solved. “It is finished.” Jesus said it. We believe it. 

Connie and Jared began to look at not one another but at Him; they began to believe who they are in Christ. Redeemed, forgiven, restored, healed, set apart for God, loved, and exceedingly blessed. When you believe, you act on that belief. 

Connie and Jared have given permission for us to share their testimony. I will let Connie tell you how it all ended, (or perhaps began anew.)

“The Lord has forgiven us for every spoken death threat, He is healing our emotional wounds; He is changing the way we react in moments of crisis. He is teaching me to be the woman who builds the home on the Rock. My husband treats me as a fragile vessel. We asked our children to forgive us. Last year we had a civil ceremony and a Christian wedding in an evangelical church. Our son and daughter came from overseas to give us to the Lord, as parents, and as a restored husband and wife.”

Recently we met up with Connie and Jared at the wedding of mutual friends. We all laughed as we reminisced about the black bags. You see, now Connie and Jared don’t buy rubbish bags that are black. They only buy white ones.

Day 20, GC3 Daily Prayer Guide

*Names changed.