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He Brought Back My Bonnie To Me

When I was in High School in the late Seventies, I dated a beautiful girl named Bonnie. She was a grade ahead of me, so, of course, I was the envy of all my friends. In fact, when I first told them I was going to the Christmas Prom with the prettiest girl in the senior class, several of them actually jumped on me!

Bonnie and I were true sweethearts. I dated her exclusively for the rest of my high school days, as well as long after graduation. Neither Bonnie nor I was a Christian then. So, like most teenage couples that 'go steady', we eventually became sexually active. We even ended up living together for a period of time.

It wasn't long before sinful living destroyed our wonderful relationship and Bonnie and I broke up in 1979. That break-up marked the beginning of a very tumultuous year for me. I wasn't interested in God but it turns out He was very interested in me!

My next crisis after our break-up was great guilt and depression over the two abortions I had participated in with Bonnie. I honestly did not think it through at the time; I was more concerned each time with coming up with the hundreds of dollars needed to pay the doctor.

But shortly after our breakup, I walked into a church that happened to be hosting a pro-life speaker. He had placed literature and posters in the back. The force of their message cut into me like a knife. Shortly after that, I saw a special on TV that was pleading for people to sponsor little children in Third World countries. I remember it clearly - Julie Andrews was the host. It didn't take long before I was weeping uncontrollably. I called the number on the screen and sponsored 2 children for a year.

Looking back, I now know the Lord was stirring and I was responding - not perfectly, in fits and starts, but I was responding. I started reading the Bible. In November of 1979, I got down on my knees and asked God to forgive me and cleanse me. The change was dramatic.

I quit my job the next day and hopped on a bus to Rochester. I was raised in a catholic home and I felt a strong desire to be a priest. I was very aware of the Lord at that time and was so sure He had forgiven me that I felt as if I had bathed on the inside. I knew Bonnie was the only girl for me. So I figured that, since I was now 'religious' and quite ready to be celibate, I wanted to become a priest.

I entered the Seminary in January of 1980 and spent a semester there. I then spent a wonderful summer working at a catholic camp named Camp Stella Maris near Rochester. When the camp closed in the fall I came home and went the next day to Mount Savior Monastery west of Elmira. I lived there for several months as a permanent guest, working on the farm for my keep.

One cool fall night in late September of 1980, I was lying on a bunk alone in the guesthouse. It was dark and quiet and I could hear a train far off in the valley below. Suddenly, I was overcome with loneliness and with a powerful realization that I was still desperately in love with Bonnie. I had been so busy with the big changes in lifestyle, scenery and occupation during the last year that I didn't have much time for introspection. Now I was filled with a grief like the sorrow of the loss of a loved one.

I remember I was lying on my back with hot tears streaming down my face. A year earlier, Bonnie and I had argued about several things, both of us convinced the other was to blame. But now I was only aware of what I had said and done wrong.

I called out loud to God, asking Him to forgive me. I remember saying, "Lord, I have no idea where Bonnie is or what she is doing and I know I don't deserve another chance, but I promise if we were to ever get back together I would never take our love for granted again." I'm quite certain I cried myself to sleep. I was all alone in an empty guest house on top of a cold lonely hill miles away from any family or friends, except the Lord.

I woke up early the next morning and quickly went to work outside like any other day. Mid morning, I walked into the mess hall to get something to drink. A monk approached me, handed me a piece of paper and told me someone had called for me and had left a message. I opened the folded piece of paper. There was a phone number and a name that sent a thrill right though me - Bette Brewer, Bonnie's sister. It turns out the Lord had been working on Bonnie, too. She was consumed with a desire to apologize to me for the abortions, to get closure over that dark part of our past. She was afraid I might not talk to her, so she asked Bette to call me. Of course I called her. Soon after, we were back together. She became my bride in June of 1981.

Bonnie and I have been together ever since. We'll celebrate our 24th anniversary in a couple of months. We have 3 wonderful children, 2 boys and a girl, and a wonderful life together. God has been very good to me.

I have written all of this down for a couple of reasons. First, God has been very good to me and has answered my prayers beyond my wildest hopes. I want to tell everyone how wonderful my God is. As it is written: "call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me" (Ps 50:15).

Second, I want to assure you that He will do for you what He has done for me. There is no problem too big for Him to solve. There is no sin too horrible for Him to forgive. Cry out to Him. You will find out what I have found out - God is good enough to listen and great enough to help. He is mighty to save! King David wrote in Psalm 34:6, "This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles." Soon these words could come from your lips, too. I promise!

My name is Matt Schilling. This is only one of at least a dozen amazing ways in which God has demonstrated to me personally that He is alive and well and mighty to save. I want to assure you there is nothing God cannot do. There is no problem too tough for Him to solve. No one is in so much trouble that He can't help. Call on Him! You'll be glad you did.

© Matthew Schilling December 2005

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