She was beautiful, this young friend I hadn't seen for a while. It took me a moment or two to realize what it was--ah, yes, the tan. In the middle of a Canadian winter, she glowed. Her blue eyes popped against her golden complexion, emphasized by the turquoise and silver jewelry she wore. She wore her blond hi-lighted curls in a short bob that framed her lovely features.
She had arrived back home from a tropical island vacation just that morning and she bubbled over with descriptions of the resort, the wonderful time of reconnecting with children --rebuilding intimacy and relationships that can falter and crack in the pressure and rush of our north American lifestyle. The food, the horseback riding, the other recreational activities all sounded wonderful. She spoke of the staff at the resort, the men showering flirtatious attention and compliments on the female guests, including herself and her daughters.
Not wanting to miss a minute of this time away, she was up every morning early, to work out in the gym before breakfast and then going for long walks along the beach, reveling in the playfulness of the ocean's lapping waves and the breeze that played over her skin like a silken scarf.
She didn't stop, from morning until evening, she said, there was so much to do.
Her husband spent his time at the pool. He was so different. Exhausted before the vacation, he just wanted to relax. She spent a lot of time alone, walking, finding it hard to sit by the pool and read for more than a few minutes.
There was only one dark spot...her husband had suddenly withdrawn without explanation for a day and a half at the end of the vacation.
She was perplexed and hurt. What was wrong? He wasn't saying. She was confused, disappointed and frustrated at the waste of a such a stretch of time in silence.
Eventually, just before they went home, he snapped out of it and kissed her. She had broken down in tears. He never told her the reason for his silence.
Could it be, I wondered out loud, that he was bothered by the male attention she'd been getting?
Maybe, she said. There had been a day near the end when she had left her husband at the pool as usual, and gone for a walk along the beach. As she walked along the beach she bumped into one of the recreational staff, handsome, lean and fit, from the daily outdoor exercise of his job.
"I see you every day alone," he said, "Are you here by yourself?"
"No, I'm here with my husband and family," she replied.
"If you were my wife I would not let you walk on your own," he said.
And I recognized the strategy, "That was the Enemy," I said, "He caught you when you were weak and his strategy if always to divide."
She looked stunned, but she said, "You're right. I went to my hotel room and I had to get out my Bible and pray. I was actually fantasizing about what it would be like to divorce my husband and be single."
Then she told me that as they had sat both beside the pool earlier, a young woman had put down her towel at the foot of his chair and before lying down in the warm sun, had taken off her top. That was when she had left for her walk, slightly miffed at her husband for staying there. Suddenly things beneath the surface seemed clear.
A vacation in paradise, intended to build relationship between husband and wife. Unspoken expectations and misunderstandings, an enemy in the garden. Stealth attack; fortunately foiled.
John 10:10 (New International Version)
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.