Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Another trip down memory lane... I guess when you are 57, the lane is a looooonnnnggggg one:)
There was a time when I thought turning thirty was traumatic.... Little did I know...=/ !!!
As I was approaching the big three oh, probably the most important phrase in my vocabulary was "biological clock." I knew mine was winding down with a vengeance and feared I would never find Mr. Right or even more to the point, ever have children.
At that point, someone came along. A nice guy with money and two genuinely sweet kids. I fell head-over-heels in love with his children from the first time I saw them, eventually coming to feel that even if I married ASAP and had my own baby, I could never have a child that would be any sweeter than these two were.
And of course, there was another issue added to the mix (there always is!) and that was that I lived with my mom and neither of us were good at doing the odd fix-it jobs that come along when you own your own home. We saved many projects for my poor brother's annual furloughs. But there were some jobs during the year that couldn't wait and I hated doing things with hammers, nails and pliers!
Which leads to another issue: mom and I lived on a shoe-string budget. Which meant that we usually tried to do things ourselves before bringing someone else in on the picture.
And then this very generous, gregarious, happy person came into my life with two very sweet kids. He had been a top salesman and once he realized that his kids and I had clicked, he began to use his sales techniques on me. The bottom line is that before long, we seldom had a date where he didn't propose to me. Since I was by no means a femme fatale, this was heady stuff! Long-stemmed roses came my way, not once but twice in a very short period of time. We ate at nice restaurants. And he repeatedly assured me that once we were married, he would see that my mom never lacked for anything.
The problem was that as I prayed about it, I knew it was not God's will for us to marry. Although I could hide the truth from myself most of the time, when I was on my knees I couldn't ignore the fact that while I loved the kids, deep down inside, I didn't love their father. I liked him but that's not enough. Basically, I knew we were incompatible.
So I resisted his proposals until finally one evening, I just tossed in the towel with a mutinous, "Why not?? Why can't I have it easy for a change? The kids love me and I love them! His mom loves me! He loves me! And my mom will be provided for in her old age! I can make this work, I know I can!" So I accepted his proposal and for a few weeks we were engaged.
But underneath, I was uneasy about it and twice I broke off the engagement. Each time his kids advised him on what to say to me and how to treat me :) and each time I went back!
One day on spring break, I was traveling to Conway to visit a friend. As I was going over the I-430 river bridge, I decided this would be a good time to pray out loud. I started off with this sentence: "Lord, please show me what Your will is..." But I only got half the words out before I burst into tears. (Yes, I cry a lot!). Right in the middle of that sentence, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was not to marry my friend. So much so that I wailed, "But why can't I marry him??!!"
The answer was a quiet: This is not My will for you.
Then I wailed, "But I've tried to break it off twice and it just won't stick!!!" (God must have a sense of humor!!!)
At this point, he made it clear to me that I needed to break it off in person instead of over the phone as I had done in the past.
Break it off in person! There was no way! But I knew I had to. So I just told the Lord that He would have to give me the courage as well as the right words to say, secretly doubting that it would ever happen.
Ironically, my persistent friend unwittingly handed me the very incentive I needed to go ahead and break up with him! At that time, our pastor had a book that had just been published and they were selling autographed copies at the church. On Wed. night, my friend, knowing that I loved to read, had purchased a copy of the book for me.
My first thought was: Great! He's just given me a gift - something I really want - and now I'm going to break up with him?? But as I opened the book at random, I saw a passage about the divine will of God as opposed to the permissive will of God. Basically the pastor used the story of Balaam in Numbers 22. I know the story is a bit bizarre and that people question the part about a donkey talking to Balaam - but frankly, after some of the conversations I've had over the years, I don't really have a problem with the talking donkey part... ;)
That particular passage in the book was saying: God has His plan for your life, His divine will. You can accept His will or you can insist on your own way. If you insist on your agenda, He will let you have it: that's called His permissive will for your life. But you need to remember that His permissive will is always second or third best.
I couldn't believe I had opened the book to that particular page so I re-read it again just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Towards the end of the passage, the pastor had written a final word of caution: remember that often, just before God brings His first choice into your life, Satan brings second-best to tempt you.
Okay, then! Wow! I got that message loud and clear! Not that my friend was inferior in any way but that as a marriage partner, He was not God's first choice for me. I knew God was telling me that the ball was in my court: if I wanted to marry my friend, I could. But in doing so, I would forfeit God's best plan for my life. (Ro. 12:1-2) And not only for my life, but also for my friend's life and for the lives of his kids, since God has a plan for each of His children.
That was all the incentive that I needed. During the service I prayed God would give me the right words and help my "This-isn't-going-to-work-for-either-of-us" speech to stick this time without causing too much pain for him or his kids.
Although there was some pain involved for all of us, within a few weeks God totally opened my eyes and brought my own emotions in complete agreement with the step of obedience I had taken earlier. Then fast-forward to many years later, when I saw that his kids had turned out very well and that he had made it just fine without me!
At the time of the big break-up, I couldn't have known any of that. Neither could I have guessed that two years after my "we need to break up" speech, at the age of 32 I would marry God's first choice for me, my husband Phil. Or that one month before I turned 36, biological clock notwithstanding, I would hold my own baby in my arms.
Over the years, I've seen so many others go through heartache because they either didn't seek God's will or, when they got His guidance, they ignored it and insisted on having their own way. (And sometimes the heartache comes when one person is seeking God's face but a loved one isn't... ) As we approach our 25th wedding anniversary, I'm acutely aware of how close I came to losing God's first and best plan for my life. I'm so thankful that He gave me a timely warning and by His grace, I had enough sense to finally accept it.
Now I realize even more than I did back then just how important it is to seek His will and surrender to it, not just give lip-service but to really accept it. When I was approaching thirty, His will seemed unreasonable and even hard to me. Now I can see that it was the wisest course I could have followed, for myself and for everyone involved.