Monday, March 26, 2012

Lessons Learned (Part 2)

The first few days were the hardest. I love food and let's be honest, eating is a social past time in this country! However, every time a pang of hunger would strike I would open the WORD OF GOD and read a passage about fasting or the overcoming faith of the heroes of the Bible. Within the first week, I had truly conquered those pains.

I was extremely careful in the presentation of myself and around any opportunities that food was present. The Bible tells us to fast in secret. When you do this, it's important that you and GOD are the only people that are part of that inner circle. That's not to say a few people didn't know, because I did have to disclose what I was doing to a select few. One being my parents because I knew they were prayer warriors that could hold me up anytime I needed it. Earl's parents were also privy to the information as well. Mostly because since I stayed with them on my weekends, his mom began to notice I was never eating. She point blank confronted me with concern. Which in this day and age is completely understandable. Jerrie wanted to make sure that I wasn't starving myself, so I told her what I was doing and why. I remember her crying and telling me she hoped Earl would make the right choice because it was so clear that I loved him more than anyone ever could and that GOD had brought me into their life for a purpose. I also knew they would continually lift me up in prayer. As for everyone else, it was easy to pass it off as though I wasn't hungry when I was around them.

One week turned into two and three and not eating just became part of who I was, but amazing so did the HOLY SPIRIT. The indwelling that took place in that time took me to a heavenly place. I literally felt like I was in the presence of GOD with every breath I took by the fourth week. As I said, Earl was barely talking to me. Others within my circle of "friends" had begun slandering me in a way that would have left me crying and screaming, "it's not fair" just six months earlier, but I had a calm that was like nothing of this world. I remember when I heard one the hurtful remarks that had been made against me. The LORD began putting the words in my heart, "no weapon formed against thee shall prosper..." I knew it was a Bible verse, but I had no clue where it was. Everyday I would get up with those words on my heart. I began searching for the scripture so I could dig a little deeper and discover what treasure lie ahead. Then I found it:


"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." Isaiah 54:17 KJV


Notice the second half of that verse. It was unreal. The HOLY SPIRIT had taken me to a passage that described exactly was going on in my life. I was being judged without reason, but I knew how to handle it now and I knew this battle wasn't mine. It was HIS.

As I neared the end of the fast, I was faced with the greatest challenge I'd ever come up against. There were so many lessons to be learned from this one instance, that to this day it helps me keep my marriage intact.

I'd been going to church there in Bristol for several weeks. I didn't really get involved or make a lot of friends, but I wasn't trying either. I had one foot in Knoxville and another there in town. At the time it seemed impossible to merge the two. I had no way of choosing one or the other. My heart was with Earl, but my job was two hours north.

It was like any other Wednesday night really, I was running late to service because of work but obviously I wasn't going to miss when I was so enraptured with GOD. HE was my lifeline in this fast and I had no intention of doing anything to get off track. I scampered in and two ushers were standing in the vestibule. They smiled and nodded their heads as to say hello and welcome. They were in opening remarks and I slid in near the back of the crowd and quietly took my seat. I joyful participated as they sang songs of praise, took up offering and went through prayer requests. Then it was the time to shake hands and greet one another. I stood at my pew, like always. I never really mingled much, instead letting others come to me. I wasn't there for the fellowship with them.

Then he approached me. He was young, tall, dark hair, blue eyes and of a very muscular, athletic build. He didn't really look like Earl but in someways he reminded me of him. I'd seen him every time I had attended service, which you'd have to be blind not to notice this attractive creation of God, but we'd never spoken. So what made tonight different? The fact that he was ushering? Maybe, but I was certain I'd seen him do that before. He walked up and reached for my hand and said something that would send my mind into a tailspin and cause me to do some serious soul searching.

"Hi, I just wanted to apologize for earlier."

"Apologize?" my puzzlement was most certainly obvious.

"Yeah. When you came in, we didn't bother to open the door for you. And I'm really sorry about that. My name is Jeff by the way."

Searching for a response, I smiled. "It's no big deal," I stuttered, "I didn't even notice."

And I really had not noticed.

Honestly though, what guy in the world today says something so charming and captivating as their first words to you.

He was determined to make sure I was accepting of his apology. I wholeheartedly embraced it and he walked away. I remember watching him head to his seat and everything felt like it was in slow motion as I took mine. What just happened here? What was I supposed to learn from this? I have no idea how long it took me to refocus on the service. The funny thing is, that was just the beginning.

After service, I always took my stuff and made a beeline for my car and tonight was no different, except, Jeff was apparently much quicker than me. Because as I turned out of the pew, there he was. Apologizing again! I told him it was fine. Then he asked if he could walk me to my car. Are you kidding me? Who asks? Men just do what they want now, even if the woman doesn't want them to. But seriously, I would've been crazy to turn him down. He was extremely good looking and his demeanor was so precious. So of course I said sure.

We stood by my car for the next 45 minutes just chatting and getting to know one another. I found him so inviting to be around. The joy he exuded was unbelievable. Finally the parking lot was nearly empty and he said, "Well, I'd better let you go."

I'd completely lost track of time. I was so captivated by the whole evening I'm not sure I wanted to go. He offered to open my car door to make up for earlier, so I let him. I thanked him and began to get in and then he said, "If it wouldn't be too forward, I'd really like to take you to dinner sometime?"

I think in that moment I was trying to figure out if this was real or some Nicholas Sparks romance novel I was reading. I was at a loss for words. My heart was turning flips and my head was spinning. Never had I felt so valued and cherished by a man. The only words I could muster out were, "Can I pray about that?"

"Absolutely. I want you to do that," he told me in a kind and heartwarming tone.

"Okay, I'll give you an answer next time I'm at church."

Then I got in my car and I probably would have sat there contemplating everything that had just taken place, if he wasn't standing there watching me drive off. As I pulled out of the parking lot, a flood of tears washed away all traces of make up and drenched my clothing.

I was left to my thoughts all the way home. What did this mean? What was the answer I should give him? What about Earl? Why couldn't Earl see me this way? Was GOD telling me it was okay to let go? This guy seemed so perfect in so many ways. How could I say no to him? Was it possible to hold on to Earl and still date this guy to see what GOD wanted? Neither would known about the other. No, I can't do that. That's just wrong.

Due to some schedule shifting at work, it was a couple of weeks before I was able to make it back to church to give him my answer. I spent every moment I could in prayer. I weighed all the pros and cons and I finally came to a decision.

This is what I told Jeff, "I'd love to go out with you. Everything in me wants to say yes, but right now I'm not in a place where I'm free to do that. GOD is working on my heart and as much as I want this, the timing isn't right, but in a few months it may be."

He was so gracious in accepting my answer and always made a point to speak to me and be friendly with me every time I was there.  Perhaps he was hoping my answer would eventually change. Sometimes I wanted my answer to change, but I now knew what GOD was trying to teach me from this experiece.
1.     I didn't really know Jeff and as perfect as he seemed in that moment, who's to say he wouldn't eventually end up as fickle as Earl. 
2.     I'd promised Earl I'd wait for him to make a decision and to figure out what GOD was saying to him.
3.     I'd promised GOD to follow HIM, not my heart.
4.     When I am married, just because things are not going picture perfect, doesn't mean you walk away from the commitment you've made when some dashingly, handsome man gives you more attention than your husband. 
 So I waited and continued my fast until the very end.

1 comment:

  1. i hope this is the abridged version. because you & i know there is so much more. i love you!
    love, mom xxxooo

    ReplyDelete