Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Sign & Waiting Times

The next few months were filled with questions and doubts and moments of belief and then confusion. So many times I was sure GOD had spoken to me and at other times I felt...well, crazy, for lack of a better way to explain it. Discerning God's voice can be difficult at times, to say the least; we have a very real oppressor...his whole purpose is to destroy whatever purpose GOD had given you. However, GOD always makes HIS voice clear (if you're listening and even when you're not sometimes). The confusion comes when you allow the devil to distract you or to make you doubt GOD's plans, and during that time satan gave me plenty of reasons to doubt. Earl never once gave me a clear sign that made me think he looked at me any other way than as a friend. So the sign GOD gave me next, led me to hold on to a dream for the next three and half years of my life.

It was an odd conversation really, not because of the subject matter, because between three 20-somethings it's most certainly a common topic, but where it went after was what was so intriguing.  Earl, Rebecca and I were taking kids home on the church bus after service. After dropping the last one off, we began discussing how to know you've found the "one". Of course we all had our opinions, and for the past three months I had become quite certain he was the man sitting in the driver's seat. As we each opened up, I said, "Don't you think GOD could show one person and ask them to wait until it was clear to the other?" Earl was convinced that was impossible really. Why would God do that? He was confident that GOD would show both of them around the same time and my idea was preposterous...that's just not how it will happen he told me.

Obviously, at the end of that ride, needless to say, I felt a bit defeated. I mean Earl knew the Bible much better than me and maybe I had created a reality that I wanted to be true. After all, I was really just learning how to know GOD in an intimate way. Then Earl suggested we call Brother Ed, our Bible teacher on Wednesday nights. Brother Ed was much more well versed in Biblical knowledge than either of us and he could give us an example in the Bible that would solve our debate.

I remember a faint joy leaping back into my heart as Brother Ed told us that it could absolutely happen that way and used the story of Isaac and Rebecca. He explained that the person GOD showed could find rest in the LORD (Psalm 37:7) until it was revealed to the other. Quietly I was thanking GOD for this...that is until Earl looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "I know what situation you are talking about and it's never going to happen. I know for a fact." Talk about climbing a mountain only to be kicked right back to the bottom. I was more than devastated, I was sure he knew I was alluding to us.

As we went home that night, I remember Becca doing all she could to encourage me and help me hold on to the faith that GOD had given me a clear sign of HIS plans for my future. Thankful for it, sure, but really taking it in, I wasn't. It was quite obvious to me that I'd allowed myself to be deceived...deceived into believing something that was merely a mirage. I was flooded with more doubt in that moment than ever. Had I thought this up? Had I just developed a crush and decided to make it GOD's will? What do I know? How do I let go?

When I arrived home, I went to my room and immediately hit my knees. I cried and wept before GOD and begged HIM to show me why. Why had this conversation taken place? Why did I have this dream and these signs that overwhelmingly pointed to Earl as the person GOD had chosen for me to spend my life with? Why? Why? Why?

A sense of peace overwhelmed in that time of  prayer. GOD comforted me and told me to trust HIM. How I was supposed to do that I didn't really know, but I knew I had to. I took the phone and called Becca and began sharing the peace I'd had while praying and I thanked her for her encouragement. She said, "Maybe all this happened so GOD could show Earl it might happen differently than he thinks."

Almost immediately after hanging up, the phone rang. I was sure it was Becca calling back for one last encouraging thought...but it wasn't. Who it was shocked me really, but even more so than who, was the words that proceeded out of his mouth in that moment. Earl had had my number for a while, but he'd never actually called me. As he began to speak, tears streamed down my face..."You know," he said, "I've been thinking about what you said. I guess GOD could work that way. I mean if there was a girl out there and GOD showed her I was the one and she was willing to wait, then yeah, I guess it could happen."

I really cannot even begin to give a description of the feelings within my heart and soul at the moment. It was more overwhelming than I could explain.  A few months later Earl told the situation he was talking about was Becca and his brother Adam. I laughed and said, "No. I was talking in general. Becca doesn't think she's supposed to marry your brother!"

As the conversation came to a close that night, I knew GOD had shown HIMSELF to me in a monumental way and it was something I'd never forget. To know HE had heard my prayer fifteen minutes earlier and even before I had asked for help to understand and keep believing, HE was working on Earl to deliver my answer. Earl didn't say it could work for anyone. He said it COULD work for him.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Intricacies

A close friend of mine got engaged a few days ago and as I sat here thinking and smiling about the time and detail that GOD took in weaving the in and outs of their love story, well, it's just beautiful. Then I began pondering the intricacies of my own story. It truly is exquisite when GOD writes your story. From the moment HE showed me who I was going to marry until the moment I said I do, there was no writer in the this world that could have orchestrated a more artistically alluring love story for me to share. (Really, eat your heart out Hollywood, because you've got nothing on my LORD! You'll see I promise.)

Now, this is my disclaimer before I begin ...I in no way encourage anyone to sit and dissect every dream they have and try to decode whether it was a message from GOD. While I believe GOD can and does speak through dreams, I don't believe HE does it all the time or even most of the time. I believe GOD is GOD and can do whatever HE chooses, but I also believe for the most part HE uses much more reliable vehicles of speaking to people, such as and most of all HIS WORD, which at the time this happened to me, I was just beginning to learn and understand. Now, having said that, this is how GOD revealed my husband to me.

In January of 2000, I remember waking up and thinking, that was an odd dream. You've had them too. Dreams that make you scratch your head and say, why in the world did I dream about that? And this was exactly that, a dream that was odd and made you smile a little but nothing more...

It was my wedding day and as I walked down the aisle on my father's arm at Woooddale, it wasn't Here Comes the Bride in the background. No I, in my beautiful white dress, was walking down the aisle to the popular song Back at One. I saw all these familiar faces from my church. I saw the joy in the faces of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Everyone was there. Even the groom, the only problem was his face wasn't clear. In a sea of guests and attendants, his was the only blur. I struggled to make it out as I approached the altar, but it just wasn't to be and then I woke up. 

Odd, it was. Silly really. I shared the dream with Becca and Shawnta, two of my closest friends and we just laughed at it. Nothing more. I went about the next few days doing the normal things, studying for school, going to church and just hanging out. As the weekend came, we girls geared up to have some fun and the phone rang. It was Earl. He invited us to his house to watch a movie with him and some other people. We always had fun hanging out with him, after all he was a bit of a clown and could make you laugh so hard you'd cry.

It's funny because I really don't remember much about that night. I know we had fun and laughed. I know we watched a movie, what movie I couldn't tell you. But the one thing I do remember happening is sitting there in Earl's living room and in the middle of the movie, completely out of no where, he begins to sing Back at One. I remember scratching my head and thinking that's odd...I just had a dream with that song in it a few days ago. Coincidence? Perhaps or so I thought at the time, but I've come to learn that coincidence isn't in GOD's dictionary. Actually, I'm quite convinced an atheist came up with the word to try to discredit the magnificent ways GOD works in our lives. You may be thinking, well it was a popular song at the moment, so what makes it so odd. You see, Earl wasn't the type of guy that just belted tunes out all the time, nor was it the defining moment that made me realize the dream was from GOD. It was, however, the first step in identifying that GOD was doing something...something that many naysayers said would never happen...something bigger than I could have ever dreamed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Desires of MY heart...

Honestly, I've really struggled with the next part of the story...I've been so busy and finding time to write has been almost impossible! But here I am today waiting on return phone calls and thought okay, here goes...

I wish the rest of the story was just a bed of roses, but this is the turning point...the time when I really began to learn who GOD was. HE was there every moment I'd been away. HE was walking with me. HE knew how empty I'd be, but HE let me learn on my own how lonely life apart from HIM really could be. HE knew why I'd allowed the world to sway me from sitting at HIS feet. And now, I needed more than just to know HIM...I needed to understand and truly grasp who HE was, so that I'd never be tempted to stop looking to HIM again. Over the course of the next four years of my life, GOD became more than a being I'd heard about all of my life. HE became LORD of my life and this is how.

The more I learned about what GOD had done and would do and could do for me, the more excited I became. That's when I turned my prayer toward something else I desired...to be married. Every girl dreams of it; meeting prince charming and riding off into the sunset, but what I learned was there is no sunset and prince charming isn't who you thought. HE is more...

Psalm 37:4-Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (KJV)

As I began to read and study my bible, something I'd never really been taught to do until I came to Wooddale, I found this verse and I just loved it! I mean really, who doesn't want all their dreams to come true! So my prayer went a little something like this...

Really GOD you'll give me whatever I want? There has to be a catch, right? Nobody gives you whatever you want without a catch. Okay, I want a husband, preferably a famous athlete...if he's not already married I really love Peyton Manning, but if not then I want to marry someone that is tall, dark and handsome. I want to have one, well maybe two kids, live in the city and have a fabulously glamorous job where I'm jetting all over the country to cover the hottest sporting events. Obviously that means I'll need to work at ESPN, so could the city we live in be Boston...it's an amazing city, the Celtics are there., and it's in New England, so I could make that work somehow. Okay, God that's all I think.

A little selfish maybe, but I had it mapped out perfect, or so I thought. The only problem was, I'd misunderstood that verse a little...well okay A LOT. Sure HE gives you the desires of your heart...but what you come to realize as you study GOD's word is the desires of your heart are futile without HIM. Furthermore, when your focus becomes GOD, your desires become HIS and what you thought you wanted, merely becomes a pipe dream.

It's funny how every one around me kept pointing me in his direction. It wasn't that I hadn't noticed he was attractive, because I did, but I really just wasn't interested. Earl is striking when you meet him. He's not tall, but he's not short either...his average height is really the only thing average about him. His face carries such strong features...a chiseled jaw line meeting a strapping square chin. Straight, white teeth that looked like the smiles you'd find only in Hollywood. And his physique, well it was obvious he took great care to obtain his muscular build and broad shoulders. Yet, there was a gentle ruggedness about him...which almost seems to be an oxymoron. How anyone can be rugged and gentle is beyond me, but somehow he was. However, the most striking thing about Earl was really his demeanor. There was the sweetest spirit that surrounded him. From the moment that I met him, I knew he was a genuinely nice guy who really had no idea how attractive he was, and that was something that I'd find to be more than true over the next four years.