Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What about LOVE?

When I first learned I was going to marry Earl, there was a key ingredient missing...LOVE. I remember telling GOD, "How am I supposed to marry him, when I don't even love him?" It was a valid question too, I thought.

In today's society, we don't arrange marriages, we choose our mates. However, all to often we choose them because they give us "butterflies" and those are really nothing more than lust. Why do you think so many marriages fail? When the "butterflies" are gone we move on. We say, "I'm not in love with you anymore." But that's just it, they were never really in love to start with.

Love isn't a giddy school girl crush. It takes time and commitment. Both, of which, I promised to give GOD when He showed me my life's mate. I was committed to waiting as long as it took for GOD to show Earl. It wasn't easy. There were days I wanted to give up, but I in that time I learned what LOVE really was. It had nothing to do with what I felt, but everything to do with what I would give.

I still remember the day I realized I loved Earl. It was September 2000. At that point, I'd known for nine months that I was supposed to marry him. As I sat pondering everything I believed GOD had shown me, it just clicked in me that I loved Earl and I'd do anything for him because of that love.

It's funny because, even though I knew I loved Earl, it still took three more years for me to understand how to explain what LOVE really was. I was sitting at a red light in front of the Wachovia Bank on State Street in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia and for the first time in my life I got it.

LOVE died on cross. LOVE said, "Father, I'll go down." LOVE took the beating that I deserved. LOVE forgives me when I'm the most unforgivable. LOVE makes me a joint heir to a Kingdom I most certainly DO NOT deserve. LOVE acts and does whatever it takes to protect.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 (KJV)

Why am I telling you this? Because LOVE isn't a feeling...LOVE acted, and still does so on my behalf. LOVE thought past the pain, past the humiliation, past the failures. LOVE doesn't hurt or harm or go away. LOVE protects and shelters and stays no matter the cost. It's that LOVE that paid the ultimate price so that I might learn to love the man that was to become my husband.

If you missed the beginning of the story you can find out how it all started by going here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Preparing the way...

It absolutely amazes me the way GOD guides and directs us and HE does it so that we can accomplish HIS will. Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps." Every day that we get up we make choices, and while we may feel in control, there's only some truth to that. If you're a believer, every decision you make should be weighted by GOD's WORD, and sometimes hearing that WORD can be beyond difficult. We'll pray about this or that and still wonder, "Is that my answer?" That's why this verse is so important to know, because even when we feel we've made a wrong decision, the LORD is there to make sure everything turns out just right. And sometimes those choices are just preparing the way for what HIS final goal is.

Summer was upon us and as classes were winding down, my roommate Shawnta was preparing to leave for camp. She'd signed up to be a counselor for the next three months, which meant I was going to be left alone in our small rental house.

Neither of us are from Knoxville so it never occurred to us why the rent was so cheap when we first found the house. We were just excited to be in a cute 2 bedroom house 10 minutes from campus. Our first sign should have been the bars on the windows of other homes around us, but being small town girls, we were a bit oblivious to say the least. We'd lived there (on Woodbine Ave. for those of you from Knoxville...and for those of you who don't, it's ghetto type area) for almost a year when she was packing up to leave and never had a single problem.

So when Earl's parents invited me to live with them for the summer while Shawnta was gone, I at first declined. However, they were quite adament that I didn't need to live alone in that area of town. For me, I didn't see any danger in it. I did see that me moving in with them could create problems and look as though I was just trying to get closer to Earl because I had feelings for him. So when they asked again, I just told them that I'd pray about it. And I did, but I felt confused on what to do. I already knew I was supposed to marry Earl but I didn't want to jeopardize what GOD was trying to do and it worried me that I would if I took them up on their offer. I began discussing it with my parents and asking for advice. They were as adamant as Earl's parents that this was much better than me living alone in that part of town. After a great deatl of coercion, I finally agreed and prepared to move for the summer.

The night before Shwanta was to leave, Earl and few other boys came to the house, loaded my stuff into a moving van and took it to his parents home. I was supposed to take Shawnta to catch a bus early the next morning so I was staying in the house with her for one final night. I was laying in the floor of my room, trying to sleep while she was packing some last minute things. All of the sudden there was a knock at the door. Shawnta came to my room and whispered, "Someone's knocking." I told her to go see who it was and as she turned around the knock became frantic pounding. She crouched in my floor and I ran for the phone. As I dialed 911, the pounding suddenly became kicks. The door broke in half, but not all the way through. I was screaming, "What do you want?" Gunshots rang out and as quickly as it all began, it stopped. The person at the door disappeared and everything was quiet.

Within minutes the police arrived. They had to cut our door in half to get in because the deadbolt had caused it to become lodged in a way that it wouldn't open. They never caught anyone and to this day we really have no idea why it all happened (or at least beyond the spiritual insight I later gained).

You may be wondering what does this have to to do with the rest of the story...why tell you all this...but you see, without this incident, I would have had a place to go when Shawnta come home from camp. We would've just moved back into our house and never thought twice about it. Instead, I began to form an incredible bond with Earl's parents that summer and when Shawnta did return, Earl's mom Jerrie, asked me not to go. Her and Big Earl had opened their home to me, but GOD began to open their hearts. That summer stay turned into two years and they became just like parents to me. And while I thought me being at Earl's parents home would have caused me to be in GOD's way, it was actually the opposite. It put me exactly where GOD wanted me to be...in HIS WILL.

Monday, August 8, 2011

GOD Wants Me to Do WHAT????

It's amazing how fast life passes by. The past few months have been some of the busiest in my life and the devil is trying everything to keep me from sharing this story. I know that GOD will be glorified in it, so I'm taking every measure possible to make sure I blog regularly until this story is told and then we'll see where HE takes me from there. So I do apologize for those of you who have been waiting so very long. Now onto the rest of the story...

GOD had already shown me without at doubt that Earl was the man I was going to marry but what HE asked me to do next was pretty much unfathomable. HE asked me to tell Earl I had feelings for him. Social suicide for a girl who is quite sure the guy doesn't reciprocate her feelings.

I remember thinking, "This is nuts! Why do you want me to do this?" But when you feel that way, just know that GOD has a purpose. It took several years for me to understand why HE was asking this of me, but you see, if I hadn't done this, people would no doubt try to explain away a miracle of GOD, however, they can't now. It's really and truly impossible to doubt that GOD wrote my love story. Here's how it happened.

We were all hanging out at Earl's house, as usual, and he asked me to run him down the street to buy a Coke. When we got in the car, I remember feeling a sense of urgency that this was the moment that I was supposed to answer that nudging from the Holy Spirit to express my feelings. When we pulled back into the driveway, I turned the car off and said, "I have something I need to talk to you about." Earl looked at me and said, "Okay, go for it."

I know he was beyond unprepared for what came out of my mouth. Now I did not tell him that I knew I was going to marry him. GOD didn't ask me for that. He asked me to express my feelings. So I began to explain to him that over the past few months I had developed feelings for him and I didn't know how to deal with it or what to do with them.

Here's another disclaimer *** before I tell you what his response was, don't label him as a jerk or bad guy. He was completely and utterly honest with me from the very beginning and I never expected anything more than what he said to me. As I said earlier, it took a few years to know GOD's purpose, which by the end of this entry you'll have insight that I, nor Earl had.***

Earl looked at me with compassion in his eyes and, said, "Rock, I'm flattered, really I am, but I don't feel that way about you. I only have Christian sisterly love toward you and you need to pray and ask GOD to take your feelings away because I don't and can't see you in that way. I'm just not attracted to you."

Sure I expected that type of response and despite knowing GOD wanted me to do that, it still hurt. I looked at him and said, "Okay. Please don't let what I've said change our friendship." He said, "It won't." We got of the car and went in and it was as if it had never happened, not just that night, but for the duration of our friendship.

You see, attraction is a funny thing. It's mostly physical at first and it's either there or it's not there. And I'd argue it's much easier for someone to become unattractive than it is for them to become attractive, especially from a man's perspective. They really are much more sight driven than women and while telling Earl I had feelings for him, may have seemed like a stupid thing to do, it was GOD showing HE is always in control. I've asked Earl many times what changed and how he became attracted to me and he says it was like scales fell off his eyes and he saw me for the first time and there's just no other way to explain it. GOD joys in doing just that, the unexplainable. HIS ways are NOT our ways, but really would you have it any other way? Look at what a mess we make of the simplest of tasks. So when you feel GOD asking you to do something stupid (or so you think) remember HE is in control and HE has a plan.