But God Had Other Plans…

Allow this “old woman” to digress for a few weeks to write a little of my love story – our story. If you missed last week’s post, you can find it here.

 

When my man proposed to me, I was shocked, to say the least. So many thoughts, so many feelings, and so many puzzle pieces suddenly coming together swirled around in my mind. To understand my odd mix of feelings, let me take you back to fall of 1982, at West Chester University.

If you had read the previous post, you’d know that I met my man while I was still quite young – in high school, in fact. We both had gotten saved and God thoroughly changed our relationship. We had one summer in which to study the Bible together before he went to college to study. Over the next few months, our plans settled into the thought that he would attend West Chester University for 2 years, and then I would join him there after I graduate from high school.

Ah, yes, we had it all planned out! He would graduate from college and get a good job while I would go for 2 more years, and then I would graduate. Why, I even thought through how much house we might be able to afford on his Geologists salary!

But God had other plans.

One of the things we loved to do together was minister together. The summer of 1982, we worked at Vacation Bible School for our church. I never would have thought this would happen, but God called my man to full-time Christian service that week at Vacation Bible School! Suddenly, things changed drastically!

“A call to preach is a call to prepare,” so my man enrolled in a local Bible college, while I went on to WCU without him! This meant another year of a long-distance relationship – 3 years total! You can be sure I was not the happiest woman in the world to walk onto a college campus.

But, be that as it may, I tried to adjust to my studies, taking on a double major and learning a lot. But by the time January rolled around, I began to wonder about this idea of having a career. For some reason (perhaps it was Titus 2) I was not comfortable with having a career while my man was in the ministry. I just didn’t feel that the two would mix very well. After all, wasn’t I supposed to be a help meet for him? How could I do that while having a career?

I was raised in a very career-oriented family. My father was a business man, and my mother was an educational psychologist – and a very good one, at that. So it was assumed that I would do the same thing – have a successful career in whatever field I chose. For me, that was the health field, so my majors were in Public Health and Health Education.

Along about March, I began to really struggle with this idea of whether or not to marry this man I’d been going with for so very long. I knew that it was either give up my dreams of a career and marry him, or break up with him and choose the career. It was a huge decision, and I simply couldn’t make it on my own.

I didn’t try to fast – I just didn’t eat. I simply wasn’t hungry. I became unsociable, refusing to go out with friends or even go home much. I took walks by myself and went to the dining hall and stared at my food by myself. My friends began to wonder what was wrong with me, but even I couldn’t quite verbalize the problem.

Someone, however, did know what was going on – missionaries to college campuses Andy and Karen Rice. Either they had been praying and God told them, or they were just very observant. They knew Kevin, and understood our relationship. They also knew what it was to be called of God and follow God.

Oddly, Kevin was completely clueless as to the turmoil I was experiencing, probably because I couldn’t verbalize my feelings well. Thinking everything was wonderful and knowing my birthday was coming up, he and his brother went engagement ring shopping, finally deciding on a beautiful yellow and white gold ring studded with small diamonds, with another larger diamond in the clasp. He was overjoyed as he made his purchase, took the box home, and planned his proposal. Soon he knew exactly what he would do.

At WCU on a Thurday night in late April, Andy and Karen knocked on the door to my dorm room, where I was – as usual – by myself trying desperately to study. They found me fairly quiet, so they got to their point quickly, telling me that they understood what I was going through. I couldn’t believe it! Here were some folks that actually understood, and cared enough to come to talk to me about it. Andy said, “I can’t tell you what to do, Lisa, but I can share some Scriptures with you.”

I have no idea what Scriptures he shared, but he spoke of the blessedness of following God and simply doing His Will. I wasn’t completely convinced, and told them as much, but they smiled understandingly and shared more Scriptures. Then they prayed with me and left. I sat in my room trying to digest it all. Was God trying to tell me something?

Was I willing to listen? What if it meant the death of all I held dear? Could I go home and face my parents and tell them I’ve left college? How could I disappoint them?

That night I took a long walk, and had a long talk with God. And the next day, I realized that following God was exactly what I wanted with my life. That Friday evening, for the first time in months, the food I ate didn’t get stuck like a nervous lump in my throat.

Two hours away that Friday, Kevin carefully wrapped the ring box in an old towel and put it in a shirt box, wrapped it in birthday wrapping paper, and packed his small suitcase to leave the following morning for WCU.

Saturday dawned beautiful and sunny – the kind of spring day that makes you glad to be alive. I had a little bit of recreation planned for that day: a friend and I were going to rent some bicycles and ride around town. I was in my room waiting for my friend getting more impatient by the minute, when finally I heard her familiar knock.

“Come in!” I yelled. No response.

“COME IN!!!” I yelled again. Still nothing. Finally, I went to the door and yanked it open to see my man there – and boy, was I surprised! I thought he was two hours away, preparing for his final exams in Bible college!! And, however did he get up to the eighth floor of the all-girls dorm? He must have had an accomplice…

So I picked my jaw up off the floor and invited him in. “I’ve got something for you,” he told me, holding out a package.

“Oh, thank you!” I replied as I took it in my hands. I didn’t want to appear more excited about the gift than his presence, so I didn’t open it until he urged me to.

I sat down and opened up the box and found the old towel. “Hmmm…ummm, how nice,” I muttered. By this time, he was acting quite odd, shifting nervously and rubbing his hands together. When I lifted out the towel, the ring box dropped out onto my lap.

My eyes must have popped out of my head as I looked from the ring box to him and back to the box again. He couldn’t be proposing…could he??

But he dropped on one knee and sang, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and then asked the famous words, “Will you marry me?”

He couldn’t possibly have known about my decision the day before. All of the sudden, what God had been trying to do suddenly came sharply into focus.

But now was not a time for many words, or lengthy explanations. I looked deeply into my man’s eyes and responded simply, “Yes!”

It was the beginning of a wonderful life.

Question: did you ever wrestle with a decision to be made? How did it get resolved?

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3 comments

  1. Beth says:

    What a sweet love story, Lisa! Isn’t it great when God weaves all the right circumstances and decisions into place at just the right time?! And to answer your question, I’m actually wrestling with a decision right now. My tendency is to rush ahead of God instead of waiting on His timing and way. I’m aware of this and am praying for God to help me lay it all down. Thanks so much for sharing your meaningful memories with all of us and congrats on many years of commitment with your special guy!

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you, Beth! The Lord has been good to us. Many times we are faced with a decision, and I’ve heard it said that “struggling is just delayed obedience.” Ouch! I know that’s true in my case – when I struggle with an issue, it’s not because I don’t really understand it, it’s because I really don’t want to obey it. We all go through it, but if we remember how much the Leader of our faith laid aside in order to bring us salvation, it suddenly seems easy.

      God bless!

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