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A Lasting Love
Drinking drove them to divorce, but God honoured a grandma's prayers from years before.

Night after night, in mid-20th century Ireland, little Norah Nelson would crawl into the bed she shared with her elderly grandmother. There her dear Granny lay in the dark, faithfully interceding on behalf of her children, their spouses and her precious grandchildren. With a limited understanding of the importance of prayer, Norah merely regarded Granny's words as mumblings. It wasn't until years later that the powerful prayers came to fruition.

Norah and Roy Nelson, 1980

Norah, who grew up into a beautiful young lass, met and married Roy Nelson, a robust Irish lad who loved his pints at the pub and throwing darts with other hearty Irish boys. With a true heart for his lovely Norah, Roy thought a move to Canada would get him away from his drinking buddies and solve the deepening woes of their marriage. Yet, after finding a welcoming community of Irish folk in Canada, it wasn't long before the pubs, darts and pints were taking the same place in their marriage they had occupied in Ireland.

When their sons were only four and seven years old, separation appeared to be the only solution. After 18 months, divorce followed. With no hopes of reconciliation at this point, Norah became involved with another man who proposed to her. However, she sensed it wasn't the right thing to do. Remembering Granny's words about Jesus always being her friend, Norah asked Him to help her understand what to do.

Roy, who spent time with his sons on weekends, initially enjoyed the freedom of his single lifestyle. But he eventually began to miss Norah and his children. Having learned the Lord's prayer at Sunday school as a child, he went to bed most nights—drunk or sober—praying that God would give him back his family. In spite of his failures, he somehow believed God was listening.

One evening at a function with her parents, feeling disconnected from the laughter and drinking, Norah asked her father if she could speak to him in private. With tears, she asked him why she didn't fit into that kind of lifestyle. Thoughtfully, his response was, "Go home tonight and read Matthew chapter 5 in your Bible."

Although Norah had seen him reading his Bible through the years, he had never directed her to read it for herself. Upon arriving home, she eagerly opened the pages of the New Testament that her father had given her. The words of verse six clearly spoke to her heart: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Holding the bible to her chest, she prayed, "God, I want that righteousness in my heart. I want my heart to be right."

A few weeks later, while traveling home on the bus, Norah caught a glimpse of Roy walking along the street. He politely waved to her and then proceeded on his way as the bus drove off. One of Roy's fellow workers, who happened to get on the bus, recognized Norah. Smiling he acknowledged her, "Aren't you Roy Nelson's wife?" As if awakened to reality, Norah suddenly replied, "Yes, I am!" She knew in that instance that God wanted her to be with Roy. Having heard testimonies about restored marriages on 100 Huntley Street, she also knew theirs would take nothing short of a real miracle.

While watching 100 Huntley Street shortly after the bus incident, Norah listened to the moving words of the song, He Touched Me. After the woman finished singing the last stanza, David Mainse looked right into the lends of the camera and announced, "If you want God to fill your heart with that joy, you can have it." Bowing her head and crying for what seemed like hours, Norah asked the Lord to change her life and resotre her marriage.

About three weeks later, she called Roy, explaining that perhaps their marriage would work if they were both committed Christians. Roy's initial response was that he didn't mind being a Christian—as long as he could still play darts on Monday nights! A few months later, they met or coffee. As they were chatting, to her own surprise, Norah suddenly proclaimed, "Roy, I love you and I want to marry you." Roy burst into tears and responded, "I love you Norah, and want to marry you!"

One month later, in February of 1980, Norah asked Roy to take her to church for her birthday. Their next meeting was a double date with friends to attend a Full Gospel Businessman's dinner. After the gripping message, an invitation was given for prayer. Norah went forward and Roy decided to accompany her. That night, he was saved and instantly delivered from drinking, smoking and the desire to socialize without Norah. He discovered that Christianity isn't about do's and don'ts, but about having a meaningful relationship with Jesus.

As the Lord became the centre of their lives, their love for each other grew closer. On April 19, 1980, the couple remarried, this time enjoying a "honeymoon for four" with their two young sons. The reunited family had never been happier! Although Granny has long since graduated to heaven, her prayers for the family have been answered in many marvellous ways. Surely, if the Irish jig is danced in heaven, Granny Wylie is doing just that while celebrating God's goodness.

Originally published in Compass, a publication of Crossroads Christian Communications Inc, February 2006.




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