This evening, while attending a homeschool moms bloggers’ conference, I’ve heard three stories from different individuals about how God personally demonstrated His love and care to them in very specific, intentional, and personal ways. Without going into their particular stories, the common thread I heard in all of them is that God can be trusted with every single detail of our lives. He not only knows exactly what we need at any given moment, He delights in having His children come to Him for help so He can demonstrate His intentional love for us and magnify Himself in our eyes.
God’s Intentionality in our Every Day Lives
Whether coming to Him for “help” is a desperate cry like, “Lord, I can’t do (fill-in-the-blank) without You!” or a quiet prayer for more grace, or a verbal expression of our sincere desire to trust, obey, or persevere with joy, God loves to show us He hears us. The entreaty of the one who genuinely yields their life to Him, who loves us best and most (even though it is hard to do), will often see God respond with such personal care and unique answers that we can’t help but be greatly encouraged and convinced of His intentional love.
That is what my Father has done for me several times in the last two and a half years as a widow, as well as during the last three years or so of Chris’ life when I thought I would faint from weariness or give in to a sense of despair. I love the verse, “I would have despaired, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” ~Psalm 27:13 God has helped me to believe He is good, even in the darkest nights of my soul.
Whenever I’ve been in a place where I have been severely tempted to serious discouragement and felt alone in the valley, I have cried out to my Father for rescue, and if He couldn’t—in His perfect wisdom rescue me—I’ve asked Him for extra grace to bear up under the weight of the trial with greater trust in Him.
Sometimes I’ve just asked God to hold me. In the past 40 years, there have been some amazingly HARD places in my life—the last thing I’ve wanted to happen is to jump ship from what I know to be true of our faithful, wise, and only loving God, even if it meant enduring pain for who knew how long, in search of temporary relief in my own way! He has helped me to persevere in clinging to Him; He is all we really have, yet all we really need.
A New Season to Wait on God…and Step Out
Taking the step to create a profile on Christian Café was a step of faith. My old pastor once talked about the danger of going off the road into a ditch with our thinking. The point that stuck most with me is that there is NEVER just one danger. There are two—you could go off either side of the road into one of TWO ditches. While most Christians look at an issue aware of one danger, or one ditch, they often fail to see the other ditch—which could be just as equally dangerous.
Applied to this area of trusting God for a mate, it looks like this. Many of us would be comfortable with the idea that we should trust God to bring us a spouse. That actually honors Him, because it affirms our belief that He provides for us and that His work is perfect. I’ve talked to friends and heard stories of friends, however, who think trusting God looks something like this, “Well, I’m just waiting for God to bring me a godly spouse.”
I know that God could just drop a spouse into our lap as if right out of the sky, but we live in a world with people all around us. God made us to live in community. We talk to and meet people everyday in the context of shopping and working and traveling and playing. How many times have you heard a story of an “accidental” meeting that turned out to be the beginning of a wonderful friendship with another believer? I’ve actually had this happen to me, and it was clear God was working behind the scenes to make the connection possible. I was out and about, however, living life for Him when He made it all happen. I wasn’t just sitting around waiting for God to bring people to my door.
Specifically, in terms of waiting on God for a spouse, we could work very hard to avoid going into the ditch of “taking matters into our own hands” and steer into the ditch on the other side of the road, “sitting back and doing nothing at all.” If God could use an “accidental” meeting at church, or work or some other physical place to have us meet our future spouse, could He not use the internet and online dating, through our specific steps to make our presence known there, to bring us a spouse? Is the Lord’s power limited? (Numbers 11:23)
The Key is Faith
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” I believe God can use any means He wishes to bring us a spouse. Whatever we do, however, whether it is getting out and meeting people through mutual friends, or visiting churches in trying to find a home where there are other like-minded believers near our age we can get to know, or going online to a Christian dating site in an attempt to meet other believers who share the same passions and love for God we do, we need to do in faith, trusting that God can work in any of these means. It is only faith that pleases God and brings Him glory—He can help us to trust Him in the process, whatever that process might look like!
This obviously doesn’t address the caution and wisdom needed to take a step in any of these directions, nor does it address the attitude of our hearts, ie. “Are we desperate to find a spouse, or have a mate find us?” That could be another whole blog entry sometime! God certainly has worked on my heart in these areas as well, and has helped me through them.
The Café is Always Open…Just Silent
After several weeks on Christian Café, I decided to informally write to two of the guys in my saved folder of eight guys, to see if they might respond to my email. Neither of them did. Looking back, I would say I did not do this in faith; I was starting to feel the need to take matters in my own hands! Pretty soon after, I became discouraged and thought perhaps the Lord had intended me to stay single for the rest of my life. This is where I have to jump in and comment that when I shared this part of my story with Peter, he described me as being a bit impatient. At the time, I thought two months was long enough to wait for God’s answer! In retrospect, he was completely right…I was being impatient; impatient with myself, and impatient with God.
God’s Response…the First One and the Second One
One morning not long after this (I had been on Christian Café for about eight weeks), I was praying and surrenduring again my desires in this area to the Lord, asking for grace to consider the possibility that He might want me to remain single for the rest of my life, when I sensed the Lord say in response, “I am doing something you know nothing about.” Those were His exact words to me.
I took this to be a variation of His speaking to me the words, “Trust Me.” Several times the last year of Chris’s life, 2009, when I was greatly perplexed and tempted to despair and profound discouragement, I would cry out to God for help, confessing I didn’t know what to do or how I was going to make it. Three or four times, the only thing God would say to me were those two words, “Trust Me.” I thought as I did back then, “Okay, Lord, that’s good enough for me. I know I can trust You.”
About a week later, I was talking to the Lord about what He had said the week before, with a dialogue that went something like this, “Lord, if You meant by that statement “Trust Me,” that You were going to bring a godly guy into my life, I have some thoughts on that. I can picture a guy, like Chris, someone who’s bold for you, maybe a leader in the homeschool movement, someone with who I can serve You. Or maybe he’s a leader in Christian ministry in something besides homeschooling, that I can come alongside and support and encourage!”
Have you ever had one of your kids come to you with an idea they have, and in their enthusiasm, they just start rattling off all the good reasons they have for wanting to do something, like build a full-size rocket in the backyard? Well, that’s exactly what I was doing with the Lord. I was giving Him my list of qualities I thought it would be good to have in a spouse. I was mentally building my rocket in the backyard!
When I finished giving the Lord my list, I heard this long pause, a silence that felt like God was saying with a smile on His face, “Are you done yet?” I love God’s sense of humor and patience with His children! Oh, what a perfect Father He is!
After the brief silence, I again had the keenest sense (the only other time I felt this), that the Lord was giving me a reply, “What if I have someone else completely different in mind for you?” Then He gave me a short list of key qualities:
- A guy who is godly, steady and quiet
- A guy who nobody knows, yet who is faithfully serving me
- A guy who is in My Word and loves My Word
- A guy who will listen to you and support you
- A guy who will not be intimidated or threatened by the ministry I am calling you to
(As a note: I have seven homeschool conventions and meetings I’m speaking at this year, five of which include keynote addresses—something I’ve never done before this year! My greatest desire is to minister life-changing truth and encouragement in God’s Word through my testimony, life and music, if this is what the Lord wants for me).
God’s Intentional Work on Display
My response to what God said was, “Wow, Lord. I never would have thought of all that, but it sounds great to me! You know what is best for me.”
Then, just five days later, Peter MacKillop looks at my profile on Christian Café (on their site it’s possible to see who looks at your profile). I had looked at his profile two months earlier, and that’s when I discovered he was an exact, 100% Christian Cafe match, lining up with every priority of what I was looking for in a guy. I had enjoyed his profile very much, in great part because he had a light-hearted self-deprecating humor that told me, “This guy is really sane and has a healthy outlook on life.” His faith showed in his profile as well, but in a quiet, humble way.
Our Beginning Friendship
I made absolutely no connection between my conversation with the Lord and the list He had given me just five days earlier. I only remember thinking, “Hey! That’s one of the eight guys I put in my Christian Cafe folder!”
That day, June 7, after Peter looked at my profile, I prayed on and off for the next 24 hours for the Lord to help me know if I should write to him, or just wait for him to write to me if that was ever going to happen. I didn’t have any strong sense it would be inappropriate to go ahead and write, so I sent Peter a friendly letter, thanking him for looking at my profile and mentioning some things I enjoyed reading in his profile.
Then I waited. To my surprise he wrote back the next day. His letter was true to his friendly, lighthearted profile, and interesting to read, especially as he related a story from a recent business trip of his, how he shared the gospel on the plane with a woman who, though a self-professed atheist, wanted to talk about religion! He shared, for two and a half hours, about the Lord with this woman. Wow! That drew me to him, to want to get to know him more. I wrote back, and we decided to start emailing each other.
Part Four (to be continued)…