Friday, October 26, 2018

Getting Out of the Way

My wife, Julie, has been faithful in her walk with Jesus for most of her life. I on the other hand, have spent decades chasing my own desires and in the process shook my fist at God in anger for much of it. I wanted what I thought I needed first without Him because deep down I trusted myself to know what was best for me far more than I trusted God.

One failed relationship after another and I still sought what I desired the most.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I quoted this often back to God but like it often is with some of us we leave a key word out. In this case the word is delight. I asked two men that I respect what that term meant to them.

Kim: Dwelling contently and assuredly in His grace, mercy and love.

George: I think of how blessed I am that I have a close relationship with the Lord and that I find favor with Him and I can delight in knowing that He has found favor in me.

I was not experiencing this kind of delight because I continued to place myself first but early in 2012 I took a big step. There was no altar call or raising my hand in church to signify my coming home. I was driving on College Road when I simply stated this truth.

"Lord, I have messed up everything I have touched. I will follow you, even if it means it is not what I want." It was simple and it was sincere. My image of that moment is God calling the host around His throne and saying, "Okay, let's go to work. I have his attention."

Later that year, Friday, October 26 my life was altered with a first date. Julie and I had talked about getting together for coffee previously, but I never followed through. At the time she was 38 and I was 55.

It was a lot of age difference to me. I was dooming it as a failure before I even took a chance but each time we talked the conversations were so easy. But I kept thinking there is no way that this young, pretty, genuine, warm, woman had any real interest in me. Today, I joke with her that Match.Com would have never matched us up.

We met at Hugh Macrae Park by the pond area. Three hours later she asked what time it was. Three hours that seemed like  thirty minutes. Coffee led to lunch. It was almost five that afternoon when we parted ways. Today it is referred to as the, "Seven hour coffee."

We laugh today often about that first date. It was a beautiful fall day. Julie says the time by the pond was like a movie scene with the director saying cue the leaves falling and the rustling sound of the ones already on the ground. The ducks walking by.

We parted that day and Julie said, "If you ever want to do this again just call me."

I drove home and whispered to God. Is this it, Lord? I was finally at a place where I did not want to charge down any road that He was not part of. Before I made it home to Carolina Beach, Julie had sent a text. "This was the best day I have had since I can't remember." I tease her about playing hard to get but we never played games with each other.

We went to lunch two days later after church and again spent the afternoon together. But it was the following day, on our third date that God did something that I was most grateful for.

Back in May of that year, while I was in the shower, I heard as clear as day. "Get your house in order." I had no idea what it meant and in time I kind of forgot until that day of our third date.

We had met at Carolina Beach State Park and hiked to Sugarloaf. Later at my house, she was sitting at the kitchen table when I recalled what was spoken that day in the shower. I shared it with her. Her eyes grew distant and she said nothing until she said adamantly, "Say that again, just like you said it the first time."

I did and she began shaking her head. "Does that mean anything to you?" I asked.

"I have heard that same thing multiple times lately." She held back one little detail. Later, when we were secure in our relationship and where it was going. She said when she in frustration asked, "What does that even mean, Lord?"

She heard this. "Because the man I have for you is coming and he is coming quickly."

God was not telling us to run out and get married immediately. We had to walk things out. We had to share and at anytime we could have said this is not for me. But what I know without doubt is that God was saying, "If you merge these two paths to one. I will be with you."

The pressure was off. This would not be a mistake. God was showing us that He would be with us. It was okay for us to fall in love and boy did we fall in love. More so with every passing day.

Sometimes in the quiet of night as Julie sleeps soundly, I will look at her and I can't believe that God sent someone into my life that not only loves me when all is well. I have had that many times. She loves me when that dark hole starts pulling at me. She fights for me. She sees more good in me than I ever do.

And as I whisper my thanks to God. I thank Him also for the broken relationships that I thought I needed so badly. I thank Him for the heartache, as difficult as it was. Because Julie, exceeds all the dreams I ever had in a woman. And that is no small feat.

Happy Anniversary, Baby. I know you forgot this date again. Our wedding date is the anniversary that is most important to you but I think I will keep October 26 as mine.

The day it all changed.


P.S. As for the past and the heartache. As Rascal Flatts sang, God Bless the Broken Road.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
That every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes it did
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know it's true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
And now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
That God blessed the broken road
Ooh, ooh
That led me straight to you

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