One of the special joys in my almost 25 years of marriage to my husband, Jerry, was his love for God’s Word and his eagerness to share with me scripture verses that the Lord was using to minister to him or that had attracted his attention in some way. A verse which particularly intrigued him was Isaiah 45:3:
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that
I am the Lord, the God of Israel who calls you by name. (NIV)
On several occasions he mentioned the verse to me, commenting:
“I know that verse has special meaning and I know someday the Lord will reveal that to me.”
What neither of us could know at that time was that it was NOT to Jerry, but to me, the Lord planned to reveal and give the treasures of darkness.
At that point in our lives, the Lord had raised up a thriving ministry in our home, which came to be known as “Ecclesia Fellowship.” God was blessing in so many tangible ways; people were being saved, others were growing in their relation with the Lord and the number of people whom the Lord was bringing to our home was steadily increasing. Jerry was gifted as a Bible teacher and counselor and his quick wit and natural sense of humor were an integral part of his personality and teaching style. But he also strongly emphasized the importance of individual personal Bible study and growth in the Lord and many of those in our Fellowship were discovering for themselves a personal, daily walk with the Lord. There was an air of excitement and expectation for the future as we saw God so actively at work in the lives of people.
Then, very unexpectedly, my normally very healthy husband became ill, ending up in intensive care with a high fever and in a coma. In spite of extensive blood work, calling in specialists, and consulting with the best infectious disease specialist in the country, the doctors could not get a positive diagnosis. They only knew that an unidentified infection was ravishing Jerry’s body and he was not responding to treatment.
Many people began to pray for God’s intervention and his healing of Jerry. Literally people around the country were praying for my husband, believing, that in spite of the dark prognosis from the doctors, God could and would heal Jerry. It did not make sense to us that God would allow Jerry to die –not when he was using him so strongly in so many people’s lives.
But, after nine days in intensive care, on an Easter Sunday morning, Jerry slipped from his coma into the presence of the Lord.
Understandably, questions hung over our small Fellowship like a dark cloud. I, too, had questions: Why would God allow Jerry to die at this particular point in his life and the life of the Fellowship? What was the future for the Fellowship? What was God’s purposes now for me? Jerry and I had been partners in ministry all of our married life. I wasn’t sure who I, just Ann Mobley alone, was.
But then, in so many different and undeniable ways, God began to demonstrate his sovereignty, reassuring me he was totally in control of this unexpected and painful development. He assured me through Scripture (Isaiah 46:9-10) that he WAS God, that nothing was outside his control, that his counsel would stand, and what he had spoken, he would bring to pass.
One day shortly after Jerry’s death, I was sorting through some books in his study and I came across a book by Kenneth Wuest, a well-known Greek Scholar and Bible Teacher, and in it I read this statement:
God’s Servant is immortal until he has finished the work God has given him to do.”
With those words, God brought me back to the strong truth of his sovereignty. Nothing could touch Jerry’s life — until Jerry finished the work God had given him to do. From my perspective, it looked unfinished — but from God’s perspective the work was done — and God had said to Jerry,
“Come on home; enter into the joy of the reward I have for you.”
Morning after morning, The Lord ministered to me through his Word. Each morning as the reality of Jerry’s death would come crashing in afresh, my faithful Lord would bring to mind Lamentations 3:22-24 — that his steadfast love never ceased, his mercies never came to an end but were new each morning — great was his faithfulness! He directed me to Psalm 138:8 — assuring me he had plans in mind and in place for me personally.
“The Lord will fulfill his purposes FOR ME”
Those words seemed to light up on the page. After Jerry’s death, I felt lost and uncertain of where my place in ministry would be. During all the years of our marriage we had served the Lord together — partners in ministry. I was struggling to find my new identity and God’s place for me in ministry. God has been so true to his Word, and over the years, has so clearly directed my path and opened up the places he has equipped me to serve him and others.
In very tangible ways God demonstrated his sovereignty and ability to provide my needs. When Jerry was admitted to the hospital, we had no health insurance.— and we had no savings. We also had no family doctor at that time. Our family doctor had recently retired and we had not secured another doctor. However, unbeknownst to me at the time, God had already put in place the two main doctors that would be needed — a neurologist and an infectious disease specialist. Not only were they excellent doctors, they were also compassionate and caring, and even knowing we had no health insurance, they gave extensively of their time and dedicated attention to treating Jerry, doing everything in their power to find a cure for him. Then, much to my surprise, they also both waived their fees and did not send me a bill for their services!
God also in his sovereignty placed at the hospital the man of his choosing to be the Business Administrator — just for my benefit I was later convinced. This man took a special interest in Jerry’s case and showed me so much compassion and favor. Then — he also prevailed upon the Board of Directors of the Hospital , after I had made a few monthly payments on the very large bill, to reclassify my account as “uncollectible” and advised me I was to make no more payments to the hospital.
By this time, I was becoming more and more aware of the many ways God was demonstrating his love and faithfulness during a very painful time in my life.
One morning I was reading in one of Jerry’s books by Oswald J. Smith on Christian discipline. Smith was using Isaiah 45:3 as his text — the same verse that had so intrigued Jerry and which he had sought to understand in a deeper way. The writer used this verse to explain that it is during the dark times of our life — the painful, difficult times — that God longs to give us His greatest treasures.
As I read those words, I began to weep as I realized — that verse wasn’t for Jerry– it was for me! It was to me the Lord was giving the treasures of darkness.
In looking back, I could see he had already begun to unpack his treasures to me… The dramatic demonstration of his sovereignty was a basic foundational treasure that I needed to remember. Another treasure I early learned to value more deeply was God’s Word. During the lonely, painful days after Jerry’s death, his Word became my anchor, my strong tower, my strength and my source of hope for the present — and for the future.
God’s Word also assured me of God’s tender care and promise of emotional healing. Psalm 147:3 promises:
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
And that became my prayer back to the Lord:
“Lord, heal my broken heart — bind up my wounds.”
Over and over God’s Word reminded me of His great love for me and according to Romans 8:31-32 — NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! would ever separate me from His love.
God reminded me that the very essence of His nature is love and that everything that comes into our lives is filtered through His great love for us. Beginning to truly know that was another treasure the Lord was unfolding to me.
I was to soon learn that God had more treasures he wanted to give me, but they, too, were to come out of additional times of darkness.
And… that remains to be shared in my next blog — which hopefully will be written and posted in the
next few weeks!