On April 6 I was united in marriage before God with Julie on Carolina Beach. It was an incredible day. My son Micah served as best man and gave a best man toast that had nearly all the small gathering in tears. As for me it was beyond tears. I sobbed on my son's shoulder as I clung to him, refusing to let go. It seemed for one small moment in time our roles had reversed. I was not holding a small boy and comforting him but it was a man holding his father and drying his tears on his shirt.
Often I had railed at God for not granting me what I wanted and for being so slow. Today looking back over sixteen months I can't believe how much life has changed. My sister Kay said recently that she had prayed for the right woman to be in my life and that she felt she was not getting God's attention. My reply was, "No, Kay I finally gave God my attention." I let go of the wheel of my life.
Sixteen months and yet it seems that it must have been longer because of the events that changed me and continually change me. December 30, 2011 at a small informal worship gathering I hear as clear as day. "I will make you young again."
Three days later I am at Passion 2012. There were 45,000 people present and most of them college students. It dawned on me one night as I looked at the joyful faces that I was not where they were and I did not know what was holding me back. Despondent I walked alone to the hotel room and went to bed exhausted in every core of my being. The following morning as worship music played I poured my heart out to God.. I told him I did not even know what I was clinging too any longer but I was so tired, so weary of doing it my way, and that whatever was holding me back to break it from me. The tears began to flow and somewhere deep inside me the pain of this life began breaking away and I was truly in my Father's embrace.
It was later that spring that while taking a shower I hear that unmistakable voice. "Get your house in order." What? I don't understand. What does that mean? After new living room furniture, window treatments repaired, and a new truck I still did not know what those words meant. I forgot them for a time.
July 1, this pretty, warm, genuine woman introduces herself to me after church. I did not know she had noticed me before and the first place was while I was waiting to get gas at Costco. Somewhere during that time she felt God whispering to her to return to church at Myrtle Grove. She obeyed.
Each time we bumped into each other we would chat as if no one else was in the room. I mentioned coffee and she readily agreed but I held back. She was younger than me. I was not believing fully what God whispered to me. Eventually we met for coffee that led to a seven hour first date. We both had been alone a long time and yet we both wanted only the partner God approved of. I am not saying by any means that I believe God is playing match maker for everyone. I do believe He knows if the mate we choose is a good fit for us.
We were on our third date when I felt the nudge to share with her what I heard in the shower. We sat at my kitchen table and I told her. Her eyes glossed over strangely and it seem she left the room. She looked back at me and said, "Say it again. Exactly the way you just told me." I repeated what I heard that morning.
She looked befuddled. I ask her gently if that meant something to her. She nodded and said, "I heard the same thing a few weeks ago. I heard it multiple times. I asked God what it meant." He replied, "The man I have for you is coming and he is coming quickly."
What I want to be clear is that we took from that gave us great comfort in knowing that God would smile on our path if the two paths became one. Still, it was up to us to be honest with each other. We could have clung to past hurts and future fears and allowed this to crumble. God is not forcing anything on us. We have free will. Julie and I chose to hold nothing back even if it meant it would break the love that was already growing between us.We found that not only did our love grow but we helped each other heal old wounds. Some of the most precious moments in that time was the times we shared and cried with each other.
Passion 2012 changed me forever. Each time I hear someone mention Passion it warms me. Maybe it would have happened somewhere else in time but I do know this. God wanted me at Passion. I was invited after church the day before Passion began. I had to decide in a few short hours if I was going to meet the group at church the following morning and travel to Atlanta. I went because I believed that God wanted me to go. He wanted me to get out of my comfort zone and do something radical. The theme of Passion 2012 was about being interrupted. I allowed my life to be interrupted.
I believe it was on the trip home when I said, "If I would have known about this two weeks in advance I would have never attended. I would have talked myself out of it."
My friend Jim softly responded, "Billy, God really does know what he is doing."
Yes he does Jim. Indeed he does!