First, an email from Coke:
A little over ten years ago I was diagnosed with MS Multiple Sclerosis. My wife left soon after and a friend of mine gave me 2 books - A Wise Man and How God Will Restore your Marriage. I read both books and learned so much, knowing I wanted to help others. I soon set up a website and even had my email address posted on your website so that I could help other men. Within a month, I had received emails from over 6 countries and 2 dozen states. Unfortunately, my health did not get better and neither did my relationship. I soon had to change some things in my life—mainly my work habits, but I never lost faith about my reconciliation with my wife.
My pastor during the time my wife left was a Godsend. If not for his spiritual leadership and help understanding scripture during my time of restoration, (before I got your materials) I probably would be writing a different letter. He was the pastor of the church I attended and later moved to a small town where he preached for several more years and felt a call to return to the military as a chaplain. He is currently in Afghanistan serving as a chaplain to our soldiers overseas. His knowledge of the Bible is deep and he has the ability to read and understand Greek and Hebrew to seek true original scripture interpretation to prevent taking things out of context much like you've shared in your books.
During my troubled times, he took "A Wise Man" and wanted to build a men's Bible study from it because he said it was the best study any man could use to be himself spiritually. However, he ended up moving to another church, nevertheless, I was able to stay in contact with him throughout my restoration journey and visited his church after my wife and I were restored and remarried in November 2009.
I also had my prayer partner during my time of restoration. It was his testimony that gave me hope shortly after my brother passed away with cancer in May of 2005, at the height of my pain and separation from my wife. He is who told me about this ministry where I went to purchase the books he recommended, your books, and thus headed down the same trail he was headed.
His wife had left also. My prayer partner was a "poster child" for what someone should look like that wanted and believed that his marriage was on it's way to restoration! Well it was!! In 2006 his wife came home and they now have a happy marriage with a daughter named Grace, another one of your many restoration babies! These men were vital men placed by God in my life that stood in the gap with me as I went down my trail to restore my marriage.
I was also blessed that my own parents and my children stood beside me and at the top of the list, let me mention them again, were the men above, for without their prayers and faith, it would have been a very tough ride.
Then in November of 2009, as I said above—my wife and I remarried!! Not only was my marriage restored, but my MS is currently in remission AND I have a new job, doing what I love, ranching. The road maps of scripture help me through some really tough times.
When you have a moment, please Holler back!
God Bless your trails!
"Be the kind of man each morning that when you wake up and your feet hit the floor the devil says "Oh crap, he's up!"
Coke, his wife Edie, with his two sons and daughter-in-law
My Restoration Journey I named,
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work for the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV
I was driving home late one night from a rodeo in the summer of 1982 after taking part in a riding competition. The rain was pounding the highway. The drive was slow and I found myself in a deep conversation with my Lord. My heart had been heavy over the last several months about a young woman whom I felt was going to be my partner for life. During my conversation with the Lord, I felt certain that this woman would soon be my wife. The rain became a cleansing revelation to me that I knew beyond all cowboy wisdom, that my Holy Pardoner, Jesus Christ, was about to open a gate into a new pasture for me.
The dirt road to my place was flooded. I quickly realized that the storm had nearly destroyed my home. A tornado had blown the barn over and hail stones had knocked out every window on the north side of my home. All the rooms were flooded as three inches of rain and hail blew into the house. Propane gas vapors filled the house, and all electricity was knocked out. I managed to find one room that still had a bed intact and was dry. I wasn’t worried about the propane vapors. The house was well ventilated at this point and everything had been shut off.
I located a dry bedroll and I soon found myself listening to the thunder and lightning as I lay down to rest. I felt a strong peace which affirmed the covenant I was about to enter into with God and my future bride. I slept soundly as the heavens rang out about my heart.
On April 16, 1983, I married Edie. I had been raised by sensible Christian parents. Family issues were simple for a family in an agricultural environment with a God-centered culture. Edie, on the other hand, had grown up under the shadows of an alcoholic father who had created a lifetime of turmoil, resulting in a broken family. But, I was a cowboy! I could do this.
Over the next fifteen years or so, my marriage went through many of the typical ups and downs. Our three children had become the center of our lives. They were becoming strong Christian leaders among their friends. To this day, they remain very close to their Lord and Savior. My cowboying, ranching, rodeoing and teaching duties had put a strain on our marriage. I had become a workaholic.
As the man of the house, I was influenced by the world and had become very different from the man that God wanted me to be. I thought of myself as a great cowboy, and I had a false sense of myself as being a sound man of God.
At this point, I had believed that my house had been built on a rock. My walls were brick and the roof had steel beams for protection overhead. I thought of myself as a good man and for all intents and purposes, the world saw Coke Hopping as a great man. But I had too much pride to see that my ways were destroying my family.
Issues began to arise within our home and slowly, the walls began to crumble. On occasion, the word “divorce” was shouted. On several occasions, my wife left on trips that involved drinking and staying away for several days. A slow pattern of peaks and valleys began in our relationship. Each time, the peaks were higher and the valleys were lower. It was only a matter of time before the valley became a pit.
In early 2000, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”). I had had symptoms two years earlier, but doctors had dismissed the neurological symptoms as having developed from spinal cord injuries from years of bareback riding. The burning sensations down my side were attributed to scar tissue on my spinal column in my neck. I soon found myself in the hospital with MS. Little did I know that this would soon become my very own “thorn in my side” just as the Apostle Paul had to endure.
The MS diagnosis affected my physical and emotional stability. My MS was relapsing/remitting which meant it came and went, but it was possible for the symptoms to worsen with each relapse. Physically, I was doing ok. But heat and stress would kick in, and I would often have to lie on a cot in my office at the end of the day, exhausted. My short-term memory became a constant battle. I dropped things, I tripped over things, I slurred my speech, and I became an angry man. My children could not understand why I was never happy. I argued frequently and lost many friends from my angry outbursts. And I lost the ability to be the man that my wife so desperately needed in her life.
In 2004, my wife was back in her father’s life. She was his “little girl”. Their relationship had been on and off throughout Edie’s youth and sadly it continues in this way to this day. He asked her to become a part of his auction business. My wife finally had a father in her life who took care of her and loved her as a father should, what she had always wanted as a child. Edie began driving back and forth to Amarillo every weekend to work with her father in his auction business. I could see that she was drifting away from me. Our finances started to collapse and I had to approach my father-in-law for help. I talked to him about my relationship with my wife and explained that I was worried because he had become the central figure of a man in her life, not me. He explained that as her father, he was supposed to be the central figure in his daughter’s life.
My father-in-law had quit drinking soon after my daughter was born. However, he was still pretty much the same individual except that he no longer drank. Some would describe him as a dry alcoholic. He was a hard man who had lost everything but he had struggled in recent years to build a strong business in the area. He was very well respected in the business world, and he seemed to be walking down a different path, thanks to a new relationship with his church. My father-in-law honestly believed that his relationship with his daughter should be ranked higher than my relationship with her, and he believed this to be sound doctrine. Yet, this was not scriptural. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Eph. 5:31 NIV As her husband, I should be the man in Edie’s life.
My wife continued to work at the auctions every weekend. In October 2004, I was hospitalized again. My wife brought up the issue of divorce again. It was the perfect time for her to do this. I was in a situation where I could not fight back. It’s sort of hard for a cowboy to follow a woman down the hall in a hospital gown with the back split open! Looking back, I can see God shaking his head at the situation I had put myself into.
Things did not change much over the holidays. In February 2005, I left home with my boys to attend the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. We had several livestock projects entered in the stock show. I recall calling my wife on the phone on Valentine’s Day to tell her “I love you.” The reply I received was just the opposite. My wife was driving to San Antonio to see her boys, not me, and it became obvious that she was not alone. She showed up at the stock show, watched the boys participate in their events and left soon after. I remember standing in the parking lot, crying and screaming at the devil. I knew he was behind this whole thing. Upon returning home, my wife had packed her bags and left.
Marriage was the first institution God created, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Gen. 2:23–25 NIV, and it is the last institution established in Revelation, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Note: Fine linen represents the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”” Rev. 19:7–9 NIV. Satan has had one mission since the Garden of Eden, which is to destroy every marriage that he can. It is his goal to do it and he knows that he is running out of time. It is at the very core of his overall battle plan to destroy mankind, to destroy the marriage covenant of a man and woman with God. Little did I know that my challenge to Satan would turn into the battle it did. It was “game on” and I was not well prepared at all.
In 1985, I had lost a brother to a motorcycle wreck and now in May 2005, my other brother was dying of cancer. I was working at the Sankey Rodeo School in New Caney, Texas, as a Saddle Bronc instructor when I received the call that my brother had passed away. As I drove home with my boys, I really missed my wife and thought that this situation would surely kick-start our reconciliation. It did not. In fact, my wife did not even sit anywhere close to me. It was clear to everyone that she was not part of my life. I tried to act pitiful and I did indeed look pitiful. I’m also sure that I looked pitiful to everyone else, including my children.
At this point, my wife had moved out, changed addresses, was partying in the town her father lived, and was pretty much out of my life. I had told my two teenage boys that their mother was not coming home. The youngest just shrugged his shoulders and said she was never here anyway. My attempt to get the boys to tell their mom to come home did not work. And I know that it was wrong of me.
It was at this funeral that a long-time friend showed up to pay his last respects. I have known Brice since he was old enough to walk and carry a rope. As a 10-year-old little boy, he had attended Texas Tech football games with me while I was the Texas Tech Masked Rider in 1979 and 1980. Brice called me the following day and I brought him up to date on what had happened in the past year. To this day, I still recall his joyful attitude. His confidence was off the charts. AND to top it off, his wife had separated from him and she was living in Dallas.
Brice explained to me that he had been given two books—A Wise Man and How God Will Restore your Marriage. He told me about the internet site for men Encouraging Men and he directed me to find it. I told him that I only wanted to read what was true about divorce and marriage from the bible. He quickly explained that the books were not commentaries about marriage, but rather, roadmaps to the relevant scriptures throughout the bible. Every question I asked Brice, he always answered with scripture just the way your books do. Jesus did the same thing when he was tempted on the mountain. Jesus had replied to Satan’s temptation three times with “It is written…” Matt 4:5–10 NKJV. Brice described his situation with his wife and how their separation had happened. Every time I talked to Brice, he always spoke positively and was upbeat about his wife’s return. And he also talked about how we would all go to Applebee’s for a chocolate shake when my wife returned! All I could think of was how hurt Brice was going to be in the end when it didn't happen.
His wife had an apartment and a good job. Brice immediately became my prayer partner never thinking of himself. I remember Brice praying with me as his horseshoeing hammer pounded horseshoe nails into the horse hooves. Whenever I asked how it was going with him, his reply would be, “Great, living the good life! Can’t wait for my wife to return home!” Though I know that's not how it was in reality.
The summer was tough. My wife had changed her residence so that after six months, she could divorce me from the county she lived in. She was working for her father. I found out later that her father had paid for her divorce lawyer. My wife had also developed a relationship with one of his employees who would later lead her down very dangerous paths. My father-in-law went to church and was given a book by his pastor that supported the doctrine of divorce. My wife gave me a copy of the book and another copy to my oldest son. I quickly went to my pastor, Dewayne. My pastor quickly showed me the errors in the so-called manual. It was false doctrine presented by wolves in sheep’s clothing. “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. Mal. 2:16 NKJV
The manual on divorce had originated from a Baptist seminary in Louisiana. I called the university and I was eventually directed to a professor who explained that the paper had been written by a student as research for his PhD. The student had been told that if the paper’s contents were stated as being doctrine from the bible, it would not receive a passing grade. Somehow, the paper had made its way out of the university and into several churches. Now, it was floating around churches supporting the interpretation that any divorce was biblical!! Be careful. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” 2 Peter 2:1–3 NKJV. Sometimes churches and counselors can do a lot of harm and will some day be accountable for what they've done to cause the innocent to stumble.
My wife and I sought Christian counseling for a short period, what a mistake. The counselor suggested that my wife go see a psychiatrist. Edie went and the psychiatrist diagnosed her as suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (“BPD”). The session quickly turned to how I should act for my wife and it turned my wife off. The talks did nothing more than talk and blame. The woman who was our counselor said she was a Christian, but she was clearly way off scripturally in how to treat our situation.
In June 2005, I hired a lawyer, since my wife already had a lawyer representing her. Naturally, I thought I had to protect myself. Brice told me one day to get rid of my lawyer. I replied that I would lose the ranch. He quickly explained that I could not serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matt. 6:24 NIV I could not pray on one hand for my wife to come home, and on the other hand, PAY a lawyer to fight for me in court. My lawyer had already won alimony payment of $500 per month for me to help with my two boys at home. My wife was already two months behind and was about to be hit with a summons that stated the amount was going to be deducted from her paycheck. I was doubtful about this issue for a long time. I had been served divorce papers and all hope seemed to be slipping away.
On many nights, I retreated to a pasture at our ranch where a ridge looked over a small creek known as Indian Creek. I spent many nights praying on this ridge and the bridge over Indian Creek that led to our ranch. I realized in August that I had to step out in faith and release my lawyer. I visited my daughter and my oldest son and explained the situation. I had earlier mailed the signed alimony settlement to my lawyer to start the process of collecting funds. I told my children that I just could not do it and that I was going to call the lawyer and instruct him to withdraw the papers and to withdraw from representing me. My children and I prayed together that Sunday evening.
On the following Monday morning, my daughter called to inform me that she had received a $500 gift from someone in her office for her real estate class tuition. We were excited. I called the lawyer and told him of my plans and he reluctantly agreed. By the end of the week, I had contacted my lawyer numerous times and he never received the signed court papers in the mail! God’s plan was in motion!
Over the next several months, I received calls from my wife demanding that I come to court. In Texas, a spouse can get a divorce without the other spouse. I knew that my wife just wanted to fight with me. The divorce was inevitable. I was served papers and I took them out to the pasture and burned them at the foot of a cross that I had set up to pray at. I received a cell phone call one afternoon while I was on horseback from a court officer telling me that I had to be in court the next morning at 9 a.m. I said, “No sir, I don’t.” He soon became very angry and said that it was my duty to come in. I just simply kept riding across the pasture and said, “Nope”. He said that my wife could get everything. I just said, “Don’t think so.” Now he was mad! And he didn’t even have anything invested. I never went to court and I never signed anything. I just looked over at the other cowboy with me and smiled and
we rode off into the sunset. (Do note that divorce laws vary state to state.)
Over the course of my journey I made many mistakes, especially over the many months after that. I made the mistake of pursuing my wife when I should not have, which revealed things that God was trying to protect me from knowing about. And it created issues for forgiveness when my spouse returned home. My wife was still involved with the other man (”OM”). She had a job in her new town and she was able to secure 100% financing for a new home. I told Brice all about these new developments about my now divorced relationship and he simply said that she would lose her job, she would lose her house, and she would even get sick. All these things did in fact happen and my wife went down a very dark and tough trail. And once again, her father abandoned her.
Please note: In the case of men's restoration almost in all cases a crisis hits, sometimes several, that leads the wife to return to the husband for help. It's then that the husband, if he is spiritually strong enough, will be there to step in to express his love.
I quickly learned that I did not need to pray for Satan to leave her. Our prayers are powerful and they work. Each time I prayed for Satan to leave my wife, he did. Often times, my wife would call me and be sad about our situation and want to come home, but Satan would return and find her house clean without the Holy Spirit for her protection and he would come back seven times worse and this was literally destroying my wife spiritually, emotionally and physically. “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24–26 NIV I soon learned to instead pray a hedge of thorns around her as Hosea did for Gomer. “Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.” Hosea 2:6 NIV This is what this ministry teaches and it's correct.
In 2006, there were several instances when my wife wanted to reconcile and once, we even bought wedding rings. This too, went south. When we were purchasing the rings, I had a feeling of unease. Sure enough, the OM was not far behind.
This ole cowboy was sure enough in love with his wife, but I wasn’t listening to God during this time. I was not reading scripture and seeking wisdom from what I read. So, I continued to check up on my wife and found out more things that God was trying to protect me from. I was like a dog in a fight with a porcupine, I just kept going back for more needles! Ever try to remove porcupine quills from a dog?
Brice never stopped “standing in the gap” and I never stopped having faith that my wife would return. But I had to develop discipline to stay in the Word.
2006 came and went. My rodeo company was doing ok. My teaching job was ok. Our divorce had not affected our ranch and home. But the stress and physical demands of my job and the rodeos was affecting my MS condition. There were several issues with the OM and my wife. He was constantly in trouble with the law and my wife was headed down a dangerous trail with him. The year ended with our family, including my wife, going on a cruise. All three of my children went as well as my future son-in-law. The trip was five days long. The cruise was nice. My wife and I got along fine. But it was obvious that her heart was somewhere else.
On the other hand, Brice was experiencing a restored marriage with his wife. His wife had moved back to their home! Unfortunately he never wrote it down, much like so many others who experience a restored marriage, most don't take the time to share it.
The new year was going to be better. I knew that my time as a teacher was coming to a close. The MS was making it harder and harder to get through the day. I soon put in my retirement notice and I was able to leave school in March 2007 with enough days accumulated so that I could get paid until June. A new job opportunity came up and I moved to the College Station Area. I put the ranch up for sale and my youngest son moved south with me. My daughter had just graduated from Texas A&M and my oldest son was attending Texas A&M.
2007 came in with me gaining new faith in restoration. The turning point literally came when I took my eyes off my wife and placed them on my Lord and Savior. I let go. I stepped out of what the worldly zone of emotions was telling me. I begin focusing on scripture and on my relationship with the Lord. I fasted more to get closer to the Lord and feel His presence. I was finally willing to let God take control of my life.
By now, my books, The Holy Bible, A Wise Man and How God Will Restore your Marriage paperback books were worn out. My roadmap through the bible was more clear and my priority became God first, not my wife. But best of all, I gained a new perspective of reading scripture and a new relationship with my ole Holy Pardoner!
MS was still an issue in my life. One thing that resulted from my struggle with MS was the softening of my heart. God had softened my stance on some old tough guy cowboy attitudes. I went back to several old friends that I had blown up at and asked for their forgiveness. This act also showed me that I was also supposed to forgive my wife. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.”” Matt 18:21–23 NIV And this meant that I had to forgive daily!
My actions in the early years had set the stage for the demise of my marriage. Yes, my wife had inherited a curse from an alcoholic parent and had parents who were divorced. However, scripture also shows that blessings can break curses. That was my job as a husband and head of the house. We men underestimate the role that we are called to hold as head of the house. The husband is commanded to love his wife. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” Eph. 5:25–26 NIV
The husband is instructed to treat his wife as an equal heir. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7–8 NIV
My physical home had been destroyed and the walls washed away, but my very existence stood on a Rock. That principle is the foundational scripture that starts you down a trail to restore your marriage. Even your Wise Man and Wise Woman starts with that principle. To make it through the cacti, rattlesnakes, droughts, cows running off, and getting bucked off your horse, you will need the very Word of God to guide you on the trail that Jesus wants you to walk down. Most people will submit to the ways of the world and after a period of time, they will give in to the ways of this world and do what the latest reality show says AND they will never see restoration in their lives. Ask Job from the Old Testament. It does not say how long his ordeal took. Ask Hosea from the Old Testament. It doesn’t say how long Hosea had to wait until he was instructed to go back into town and acquire his wife Gomer.
Looking back and reflecting on my restoration process, it is easy to see the signs that I was getting close to restoration, since I now have 20/20 hindsight. I think one of the hardest things for most people is to have 20/20 foresight.
Things starting falling apart in my wife's life in the spring of 2007 when she injured her back at work which made it difficult for her to work, resulting in issues with her ability to pay the mortgage for her house. All I could do was just be there to answer the phone in a positive spirit, but I did not give her money because I knew that that was not what God wanted me to do. I'd spoken to Him, willing to do so, but He told me not to. I did help several times to repair stuff around her house, although I saw evidence of the OM's stuff which was tough. At the end, when I moved my wife’s belongings back to my home, I only moved her stuff. I’m sure some homeless person benefited from the stuff that was left on the curb.
The biggest thing I remember about this time period was not so much what my wife was doing but "where my heart was with the Lord." I had a sense of peace, and the feeling of panic that I had whenever my wife went left or right, did not affect me as it had in the beginning.
This can be a dangerous time in the restoration process. It creates a sense of "OK, I don't think I want her back now, or I can live without her!" I always tell men to BE CAREFUL! Satan is now moving the pendulum back the other way. He knows he is losing the battle. Remember the scripture above from Hosea—God said that He would return Hosea's wife and HE (God) would remove the mouths of Baal from her. When this process starts, stay the course and let God finish His work and be prepared to accept your wife when she returns. If you don’t, then it will be you who has turned your back on the marriage covenant that you entered into, as God is restoring your marriage. The whole Book of Hosea is about the adulterous relationship of God's chosen people with their Lord and we are to be the living example now.
The turning point for my restoration came when my heart became peaceful with my relationship with God. I felt a sense of "Ok, I’m going to be OK." I also recall feeling or thinking it was ok to move on without my wife. That’s when I had to stop and battle this. I think lots of couples do this and for this reason, I think that is why there are a lot of marriages that are not restored. The spouse that leaves will say something like "I don't love you anymore and I never will! SO move on!" And the spouse, the one on the receiving end of this comment, usually hangs in for about 10 months. This almost happened to me too. Though we are to move on with our lives, developing our relationship with Him, moving on and remarrying is adultery, plan and simple. Erin did a good job of finding the scriptures if you're searching for the truth. Just read How God Will Restore your Marriage if you really want the truth on this subject.
Little did I know about all the little things that God was doing in my wife's heart. Had I moved on, I would not have been able to see the Holy Spirit flow from my wife's heart and mouth today as she now gives praise and honor to her Savior! My turning point came about after two years. As I look back, it seemed to play out in phases that mostly paralleled my walk with Jesus.
My restoration happened in January 2007 when I had to make some changes in my job. My health was starting to affect my work and could have been due to the stress from my marriage. Nonetheless, I knew I had to do something. As I started to move in a positive direction to fix things, I tried to do it in a way, which reflected a new me, a new Coke. I took my clothes to get pressed at the laundromat, I dressed in clean clothes and tried to improve my "first impression image" every day. I tried to look positive and if I was having a bad day, I tried to fake it until I really felt positive.
When it came time to move, my wife contacted me and wanted to move with me. I was happy that she was ready to load up in my covered wagon as we moved to a different ranch. Things were pretty good. At first, I believe my wife moved because my boys were moving with me. It became obvious on a couple of occasions when I found stuff from the OM that she had still been in contact with him. This is a tough time for lots of relationships that He restores, I am sure of that. It was tough for me. But I learned I had to wait for Him to complete the process.
It was obvious from what I saw where the OM's heart was and how Satan was pulling his strings. I could see very easily that this was not a man of God and this one fact gave me confidence that my Lord would prevail. I also think that knowing this kept me from doing anything stupid. I remember telling my wife at this point that we were leaving Sodom and Gomorrah and that I could not look back at my past sins and that if she did, I could not look back to help her. This was tough, but I also did my best to do it with a loving heart. Lot's wife looked back because she missed her past and she was turned into a pillar of Salt. (Gen. 19:21–26 NKJV)
Each man has his own trail to walk. Each man will journey down a different path that leads through different canyons and over different mountains. I tell you that scripture never changes and never contradicts itself. Some say you can read the bible a hundred times and it will tell you a hundred different things each time. Not true! The Word is, and always will be, the same yesterday, today and forever!
Go out under a tree and place a plumb bob hanging from a tree limb so that it's barely touching the soft sand underneath it. Gently move the plumb bob to one side or the other so that it makes scratch marks in the sand as it moves back and forth. Watch it move back and forth and sooner or later, the plumb bob will come to a complete stop at the BOTTOM DEAD CENTER every time. That is His Word! The Word may speak to you differently each time you read it, and it should. As for those scratch marks outside the center point, they are similar to how you interpret the Word to meet your own wishes. It is the living Word and it will speak to you, but you will need to understand true doctrine to keep the plumb bob centered. Because of the Holy Spirit that remains here after Jesus ascended to Heaven in the Book of Acts, the Word will speak to you like no other book. It never changes! It never contradicts itself! It has withstood thousands of years of interpretation! AND numerous authors wrote it over hundreds and hundreds of years apart from each other. There is a reason why it is called the Holy Bible—It is the very WORD of God that was spoken and recorded by a very special group of writers! This is what I love about being part of this ministry, it's based on the Word alone. It doesn't say what you want to hear or what some denomination says, it is bible based, period.
What's true too is that each man will have a different journey and each man will develop his own testimony. A friend of mine went through a similar set of circumstances as I did. He fought for restoration for about a year but then felt like he could remarry. So he remarried and had another child. Then one day, his ex-wife returned after five years and she commented that if he had waited, she would have gotten back together with him. Sadly, she went off and has been with several men that has adversely affected his children and the new life he was hoping to make with his new wife (who I heard is laying on a bed of sickness as Revelation 2:22 warns will happen). This friend of mine is now in another marriage with another woman and another child. He told me later that looking back, waiting five years was not a very long time to wait. But he had already remarried twice.
If we would just wake up and realize the destruction of marriages falling around us, and remarriages running rampant through His believers, it's horribly sad. God gives each of us the tools we need and His promise of Salvation and Restoration and it never changes throughout the scriptures. So why do you think that your situation would turn out any differently? You must have faith and the Lord does allow for you to pray for faith. But there will come a time that we all must act on that faith! Saddle up whatever bronc the Lord has given you. Some of you will get bucked off. Some of you will make a great 8-second ride and then jump off with so much pride that in the end you will fall flat on your face as you walk out of the arena. And some of you may even get on a donkey, just as Lord did when he rode into Jerusalem for the Passover. But in the end, I promise that the horse you will ride in God's army will be a magnificent animal that you will ride next to Jesus on his Horse. It's time to enter the round pen and select your mounts for the ride ahead. Have faith in your Lord and Savior, and stand firm. If you get bucked off, I say to you, “Get back on!!!”
My wife and I remarried in November 2009. My wife now has a new relationship with Jesus Christ and it is because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in what He helped me come through. Even though I did have to sell our small ranch, I now manage a much larger ranch that came with a very nice home. I was able to complete my Masters in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications at Texas A&M and I graduated at the same time with my oldest son. My daughter is married and expecting their first child. My youngest son is now in college. My wife teaches 2nd grade now and is anxious to be a grandmother. My MS continues to be in remission.
My home was washed away but not its foundation. I am thankful to my parents for establishing the Christian doctrine in my life. I pray that my life will do the same for my children. John Wayne said in the movie The Cowboys, “It’s not how you’re buried, it’s how you are remembered.”
It is your Savior, Jesus Christ who will get you through, nothing and no one else. Let the books and courses this magnificient ministry offers serve as a map to help you find your way through God’s Holy Word—The Bible. God will lead you as you become “A Wise Man” building your home on a Rock. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matt. 7:24–25 NIV
Stand Firm and may God bless your trails!
Coke and Edie Hopping
P.S. Brice, it is time we had that chocolate shake at Applebee’s!
UPDATE: Coke, (pictured left) went to be with the Lord. Coke was just 55. He will be greatly missed and trust that the Lord will see fit to send us men to fill his boots—a passionate minister to head up our men’s ministry (which He faithfully did by sending us Patrick and Jodi in Australia).
“It’s not how you’re buried, it’s how you are remembered.” Yes, Coke, we will always remember you and your courage.