This is a story about how when I was twenty-two I got tangled up with a bank robber. It was in Los Angeles, 1972.
I met my first ex-husband in church.
I grew up going to church. My mom saw to it that we went to services two, sometimes three times a week. So “church” was nothing new to me. What was new — and exciting — was this exuberant, in-your-face evangelistic approach to church that the media called “The Jesus Movement.” Those of us immersed in it were proud to call ourselves “Jesus freaks.”
My parents lived in Australia at the time, and I was on my own. A college dropout, working part time in a cheese shop, living with friends of friends. Rent free. For the past six months. I knew back when they told to make myself at home, they didn’t mean … permanently. I had overstayed my welcome, and I knew it was time to move on. But what did the Lord want me to move on to? Daily, I prayed for a revelation: My life! My purpose!
And then one Sunday morning I’m sitting there in the little church I went to with about forty other Jesus freaks, looked up from my hymnal, and standing in the pulpit is this blue-eyed stranger. Our pastor had invited him to give his personal testimony.
His name was John. Two years before this, serving a sentence for bank robbery at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary in Puget Sound, he had found the Lord. He had started a Bible study group, he supervised the prison Sunday school, he acted as inmate liaison with church outreach groups. And he got early parole.
He’d been out for three months. And already he had lost his job, his apartment. He was broke, with no prospects for gainful employment.
He was desperate. So he decided to raise a large amount of money the only way he knew how — armed robbery. And just the night before — about midnight — he was walking down Santa Monica Boulevard on his way to break into a pawn shop and steal a couple of guns…
When at that very moment…
Here comes our pastor — Pastor Kenny — sees this guy walking head down, looking despondent. And Pastor Kenny thinks, “Here’s a soul who needs the gospel message.” So he whips a U, pulls up at the curb, and hollers, “Hey brother, do you know the Lord?!”
There in the pulpit, this guy John told how he fell to his knees right on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“Snatched from the brink of hell!” he cried. “Praise God! I’m a new creation!”
I. Was. Riveted.
John and I got acquainted with each other, and … I found out he dropped out of high school as a sophomore. I dropped out of college as a sophomore. He was unemployed. I was under-employed. He was homeless. Technically, so was I. We had so much in common! Obviously, God had brought us together so we could labor together in the Vineyard of the Lord as man and wife.
Four months later we were married on a Christmas tree farm in Malibu Canyon. I repeated the vows I had heard at every wedding I ever attended: I promised to “love, honor, cherish, and obey” this man.
The first big test of “obey” came a couple of weeks later when he decided since he couldn’t find work in LA, we should move back to Tacoma, where he knew so many people from the churches there.
Obediently, I got busy packing.
But at that time, Washington State was in the middle of a huge depression, and if your only resume was a rap sheet, you didn’t stand a prayer of getting a job.
I worked as a file clerk. John got the occasional guest preaching gig. So for that first year, we lived on minimum wage, love offerings, and food stamps. I found out that it’s hard work being poor.
It was hard work keeping those wedding vows, too. I had no problem with “love, honor, and cherish.” But obey? I have never been particularly obedient.
One time he pulled rank on me. He said, “Listen, Jesus said the woman is in subjection to the man.” And before I knew it, I shot back, “No, he didn’t. It was St. Paul. Ephesians 5:22!”
But I did give it my best effort. Because as tough as things were, it was all for a high purpose. For treasures laid up in heaven.
Or so I thought.
Until the day I came home from work unexpectedly early to find my husband and a couple of his old classmates from McNeil Island — men I’d never met — heads bent over some papers, working on…what I soon realized was a plan to raise a lot of money … the only way they knew how.
“Love, honor, cherish, obey…” That did not encompass aiding and abetting armed robbery.
I took off my rose-colored classes, shook off one layer of innocence, packed a suitcase, bought a plane ticket, and got out of town.
Megan has earned an enviable reputation as a professional storyteller. She was featured as a New Voice at the National Storytelling Festival in 2011, and her credits range from small venues in rural America, to regional stages throughout the United States, and international programs on three continents, mostly recently in China.
Her awards include a Parents' Choice® Silver for the CD, "What Was Civil About That War…" which was also a 2005 Finalist for an Audies® award in the category of Best Original Work. She received the Parents' Guide to Children's Media Award for "Groundhogs Meet Grimm," a collection of her original parodies that was also tapped for Honors by NAPPA.
Megan is a sought-after workshop presenter and seminar leader, with credits at Florida StoryCamp, the Northlands Storytelling Conference, Sharing the Fire, the National Storytelling Conference, the Virginia Library Association,
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