I was searching old folders and found a lost sketch. I remember the sunset evening as my wife, Linda, and I watched the early evening moon set in our back yard while enjoying an iced coffee. Although I pulled the sketch out today, it brought to mind another special time when our story started.
April 19 (43 years ago) I asked Linda for her hand in marriage. Now before friends say, “Gee, isn’t that a sweet memory”, there is more to the story. As young and full of energy as we were in those young years, those times set patterns of “hearing” and “faith” that proved critical many times during our lives together.
In the early Fall of 1972 we became friends, often saw each other, and were usually found with a group of young Christians. Linda and I had no romantic intentions for months, but something woke up in me in the early part of 1973. I especially liked her kindness and appreciated her desire to know and serve the Lord.
Our mutual group of friends was mostly young men that were new Christians like I was. I new very little about the Bible but was learning fast. I knew that I knew (repetition intended) that Jesus Christ was my Savior from a commitment earlier in 1972, but I had come to His “table” a mess. Part of that mess were bad or wrong relationships. While I had repented of them when I had made a commitment to Christ, I was sensitive to those kinds of sin. So when I began to take more interest in Linda almost a year later, I was still cautious about any relationship, not wanting any kind of repeat of the past before I had become a Christian. So, I was careful. It was a matter of faith and His righteousness.
As we saw each other those early Spring days of 1973, there were times when God’s presence was special and personal to us. You can call it naive, but I was not sure whether we would be doing ministry things together or we were being led together and headed for marriage. Our relationship made me a bit anxious, but I took the matter to the Lord in prayer for several weeks. This was my position before God: if I did not hear His affirmation in my heart in some definite way, I was not going to ask her to marry me. I had already resolved to go into the next phase of my life single if I did not have that degree of confidence. I had quite a few times in prayer about the matter but heard nothing. I waited. I prayed more days. Nothing. I went to a local leader in our fellowship and asked for prayer. I continued to keep the matter before God.
I was in a fellowship that actually believed God could speak into lives. Yes, the Word speaks, but I am not talking about the Word alone. Rather, I am speaking of the Holy Spirit that gives words of wisdom, knowledge, and guidance. The Spirit will not speak something that does not agree with the Bible. It is the same Spirit that guided Paul in His travels, directed Peter, and many other believers. I had learned and personally experienced (along with many of my friends) that the verses were literal when they said “my sheep hear My voice” So, there was every reason to believe on a matter of importance that I could be settled by His peace or hear His voice through the Word or in the heart say “yes” or “no” or “wait.”
Not many days hence He spoke by His peace in a way I could not mistake the answer. I still remember the time, place, and circumstance.
A day later I asked her. Her nearly immediate “yes” also has its story, for she had sought the Lord as well, but did not tell me until after we were engaged. She wanted to be sure I knew for myself. Of course there were other meetings and prayers as we moved forward. We continued our friendship, prayer, and times with friends. We were married in June.
Applications for Today
I have shared the story and its applications many times. Do you want to be married (biblical marriage between a man and a woman)? Then want God first and foremost. That means the heart needs to be right and your behavior should reflect biblical guidelines with friends as a single person. Are you already drawing close to someone? If something is not right, stop and repent. Being single is honorable, so resolve to be single and pure in heart. Be a friend. If you cannot be a friend in Christ with the one you are interested in, then marriage is probably not on the path ahead. If marriage seems to be ahead, don’t move forward on your own without clear affirmation that He is leading you and your prospective spouse. Pray together. Seek counsel from an older mature believer. When you finally get to a decision point, each of you must be able to say, “I believe by faith this is God.”
You see, it is all about obedience as well as love in a biblical sense. Are not these things essential for a walk in faith as a believer, whether single or married? You believe, you act upon that belief, you seek the Lord about matters, and obey any direction you get…holding to the Word of God and trusting that He knows best. The bigger the issues, the more important His guidance becomes. Why? Because He is higher and firmer than emotions, desires, and head knowledge that can, if allowed, interfere with God’s direction, which is always best. When the prospect of marriage, like any other big thing, is approached this way, it is a safe path, because you stay under the shadow of His wing. That kind of posture leads to fruitfulness and becomes an anchor when circumstances later prove challenging.
…the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name…
…his sheep follow him because they know his voice…