My husband and I married in August, 1983. We were both still college students. We were young, poor, and, yes, love did make a difference. I remember my husband telling me, with our $25 a week grocery budget, frozen water pipes in the winter, no phone or television, and one car between us – “We’re going to look back on these days as the best of our lives.”
A year later, he had graduated and found a job right across from the high school he had attended. We moved to a new apartment with pipes that didn’t freeze in the winter, bought both a phone and television, increased our grocery bill – and still had one car between us.
As I was waiting one evening in our car for my husband to come out from work (when you share one car, waiting becomes a pastime), I remember praying that God would show me how to love him(God) the way I had loved him as a child – so heart-full, trusting, seeking him in an arms-wide-open, flung-around-his-neck-in-total-acceptance kind of way. I needed him growing up – and He was there – faithfully.
Another year later, in 1985, I was in graduate school, working on a Master’s Degree in English because I wanted to be an editor. I’d worked for a local paper for about two years, typing up AP stories to be sent over to layout – and writing movie reviews and articles on local living. In graduate school, I was working on the next step. I received an assistantship teaching remedial writing to college students while earning that degree.
The teaching, it stretched me. It took me two weeks for my eyes to stop watering in front of a classroom full of students – and, at least, a year before I stopped having nightmares of student mutiny in the classroom.
I made dear friends, including a fellow Teaching Assistant (TA) who was a missionary-minded young woman with a heart for reaching out to others and sharing, not just kindness, but the gospel.
My friend, Rhonda, asked if she could share some bible tracts with me – and I said sure, even though I had no clue about what a bible tract was. If you asked me today, I still probably wouldn’t be able to tell you. We met for coffee in between classes and teaching– a beautiful, sunny day when over a cup of coffee, my religious pride bumped into a heart-wide open to the love of Jesus Christ.
I’d been in church all my life – had gone to Christian schools and read my bible at home. I could probably count on one hand the Sundays I missed church until I went to college. This new friend was sharing scripture with memorization plans – and I felt so lost, as if I’d studied hard for a test only to fail.
She probably thought her time with me was a mission fail. Nothing she said seemed to stick – and I’m sure she could see my pride right there behind my smile – you know the smile you keep on your face when you don’t know the answer – but you don’t want anyone else to know you don’t know the answer? Yes! That smile.
I didn’t leave our conversations slamming the door shut behind me. Yet, I didn’t leave those meetings with a heart-wide open, flinging myself into this God-adventure with a bring-it-on attitude. There was so much I didn’t know – that I needed to know. I’d happily said, “I do” to a lifetime with my husband, but I blanched at whether I had the faithfulness for a lifetime as a Christ follower. How does one prepare for that?
My Master’s would prepare me for editing – Right? Pre-marriage classes and lots of love prepared me for a life time of marriage – Right?
This is where I bend over in a faux laugh – at the ridiculousness of thinking six weeks or two years can prepare anyone for an actual, daily experience with all possible contingencies – whether it be editing or marriage.
If it’s impossible to prepare for editing or marriage, how could I possibly prepare for a life time of God? How can anyone ever be fully prepared for the fullness of God?
Life got busy, my friend and I met once or twice again. She was so kind, so affable – someone comfortable to be around, yet I always felt like a student in the classroom who thought they knew everything but actually knew very little. In hindsight, we both had the Gospel. Yet, the gospel was just Logos to me (just the words), but it was Rhema to her (the gospel alive).
Like the father of the demon-possessed child, my heart was crying out, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). My spirit cried out for more than a word relationship with God. My spirit was crying out for an alive relationship with this loving Father who’d taken such good care of me all my life.
I’d prayed over a year before for God to help me love him like I did as a child – and this sweet friend was one of the first he sent across my path. Her job was to crack the hard crust of pride around my soul, and in that crack, plant a seed.
In her faithfulness, she planted the seed. There have been many Apollos who have watered that seed – and God, in his faithfulness, has made it grow.
God meets us all in the hard brokenness of where we are – His word tells us that over and over again. He met Jacob and Rahab, Jonah and Daniel, Rebekah and Ruth, Paul and Peter – he meets us and draws us closer to him in all manner of ways – God-designed ways to reach each of us. In each, the seed was planted and watered – and God made it grow! It’s not something just for bible heroes – it’s for every single one of us. God tells us over and over again – he can crack through whatever is keeping us from him.
My friend, Rhonda, went on to be an ESL teacher overseas, taking along with her the gospel to share with those who might never have heard it, planting seeds, and I’m sure, watering seeds others have planted.
Me? I graduated and taught college students to write for a number of years as I raise five sons. Editing? Well, God had other plans – and, most likely, you’ll discover if you read often, that I need an editor for those pesky typos. Marriage? It will be 34 years this year – and, no, I don’t think anything can really prepare anyone for a lifetime of marriage, though faith and love are what sustain and grow it. My pride? It crumbled and dissolved, replaced with grace and humbleness, faith and hope, forgiveness and unconditional love. That arms-wide-open kind of relationship with God? It’s a work in progress. Now, instead of hanging at the door, too shy to enter where He is, I know I can run into him and fling my arms around his neck.
I’m joining with Dolly for the next few weeks as she shares questions from her 7 Days of Soul Care as writing prompts. The questions are ideal as prompts for journaling because these are not surface questions. The questions invite you to pull out your life experience and study it through Soul Care eyes. Won’t you join Dolly at her blog, Soul Stops and share your response?
Questions From Day 1 (Know God, Know Yourself) of 7 Days of Soul Care for next week (or you can pick another question from the book):
Who or what influenced your perspective of God’s character? Could you ask God to reveal what experiences affected your view of him? Was it a person? Experience? Media? Book? How does that message about God compare to the God revealed by Jesus and the Bible (God’s revelation to us via different people across hundreds of years)?
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://hollybarrett.org/ Testimony Tuesday
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://www.w2wministries.org/ Word-Filled Wednesdays
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart
http://3dlessons4life.com/ Thought-Provoking Thursday
http://crystaltwaddell.com//Fresh Market Friday
https://susanbmead.com// Dance with Jesus Friday
http://seespeakhearmama.com/ Give Me Grace
http://www.journeysingrace.com/ Grace Moments
http://www.christinemalkemes.com/ The Loft
http://mecoffeeandjesus.com/ Me, Coffee and Jesus
https://faithadventures.me/ #TeaAndWord Tuesday
#TeaAndWord, #TestimonyTuesday, #TellHisStory, #Glimpses,#LMMLinkup,