Fourteen years ago I walked into a local gymnasium to play volleyball through my church. As I stood across the court, I couldn’t help but notice a man who looked very familiar to me. While straining my eyes, I thought for sure that who I saw was my former high school volleyball coach. I stepped closer for a better look. Yep, that was him.
Hmph, I thought to myself, what is he doing here?
Why is he here playing volleyball through my church?
Does he attend there as well?
Well, isn’t he gonna be surprised to find out that I am now saved! (When I was on his team, he was always preaching to his players about having a relationship with Jesus Christ.)
I walked over and said hello and then asked him what he was doing here.
What am I doing here? What are you doing here? Was his response. (After all, it was church volleyball and the last time he saw me, I was the furthest thing from being saved!)
I briefly shared my testimony, then I asked about him.
He told me his wife divorced him.
I patted him on the back like a buddy and said, “Don’t worry Eric, God’s got the perfect woman for you!” Little did I know that one week later God would reveal to me that I would be that woman!
If you are new here you can read my earlier post on, The Story of My Arranged Marriage.
I met the list. He was real. Not only was he everything I prayed for on the list, but he was 10 times more than what I had ever imagined! But there was one problem. I couldn’t believe it!
Him of all people. Really Lord? Are you kidding? This is a joke right? This man can’t possibly be my future husband? Those were the thoughts that ran through my mind when I saw him again.
The first time I met him, I was 14 and he was 21. I was a Freshman in high school and he was my coach. He was the man that I butted heads with. The man I sassed, talked back to and argued with. The man that made me run extra laps because of my belligerent attitude. The man I didn’t like. He was the last person on earth that I would have ever married!
Yet, many years had passed, 10 to be exact, and I was no longer the same person. My life (and heart) had been radically transformed by Jesus Christ.
Within one week of meeting him I knew he was the one that God had chosen for me despite of who he was.
But thoughts ran through my mind about my past. I was like the woman at the well. Would he still have me when he hears about my baggage and sins? After all, he was a godly man, one who grew up knowing AND believing in Jesus Christ. As a young man he lived his faith when he was my coach. He made it clear to all his players who he lived for and who he believed in.
But he had a scarred past too.
When I was 17, he coached me again in my senior year. He was engaged at the time and he brought his fiance’ to meet his team. My thoughts when he introduced her: Who cares. Get off the court princess. You are wasting valuable court time! (I had a severe personality before I came to Christ!)
She was a beauty queen. One who said she’d love him forever. One who said she was a Christian. Within the first year of their marriage she said she wasn’t going to submit to some man.
Although he was raised in a Christian family, all that he was taught was to marry a believer. He saw the many ‘red flags’ during their engagement period but not having enough training, guidance or wisdom, he didn’t realize how those ‘red flags’ would manifest in their marriage, so he overlooked them.
Even though she proclaimed to be a Christian, her actions said otherwise. He was deceived. They were married for 9 years and every year she said she wanted a divorce.
‘God hates divorce’ was always his response to her, yet she sought it anyways and filed on his birthday. What a loving thing to do! (sarcasm noted)
He was a solid Christian man, one who was committed to his Lord regardless of the pain he went through. His name was now smeared and tarnished.
He wasn’t going to be deceived again. So he made a list of godly attributes for his future wife and he prayed over it daily. (When he shared that with me I nearly fell off the bench I was sitting on!)
Had he divorced her, I wouldn’t have married him because he would’ve been outside of the Word of God. I wasn’t interested in being yoked to a man that wasn’t obedient to the Word of God. I wouldn’t give him my hand in marriage. Yet, that was not his situation. He was honorable so I had no issue with his divorce.
He knew within a week that I was ‘his list’. He saw the radical transformation that Jesus Christ had made in my life and there was no doubt in his mind that I was truly a follower of Christ.
I knew he was the one as well. I knew it mentally and spiritually because he was what I prayed for. Without a doubt, he was the list in life form! All of the essentials, the primary godly character traits were in check.
But this is where the story takes an unusual turn from the typical love story. I did not fall head over heels in love with him (just yet!) It was as if God put a protective barrier around my heart so I would not walk into this relationship with my emotions.
Rather, God’s spirit was at the center of our relationship.
He was walking with us.
He was hovering above us.
He was standing in the middle of us.
He held our hands as we held each others.
It was a beautiful and supernatural experience.
But my emotions kept questioning.
It was an unusual experience with my mind and spirit knowing he was the one, but my heart being still.
The enemy was at work as well as he continually planted seeds of doubt. So, I picked the man apart and assessed ALL things about him. There were personality quirks (like the type of music he listened to) that I wasn’t quite sure about. Stupid, dumb, petty stuff that didn’t matter a hill of beans to a God-fearing relationship. But the enemy was looking to destroy what God was doing in our lives. Would I be deceived by him?
I went back to my list; my foundation.
- He was a godly man. (check)
- He wanted to lead me. (check)
- He had integrity and honor. (check)
- He attended my church. (check)
- He was a solid believer who could teach and lead me spiritually. (check)
- He was sooo much like me. We shared the same convictions, morals and values. (check)
He was the exact piece of the puzzle that I was praying for. All of the sides lined up. It was a perfect fit.
I soon realized that some of the things that I was hung up on were none essentials. They did not define his character. The Godly foundation was what mattered. He had all of that and more.
So, I surrendered to the Lord.
We courted for 3 months, then on December 21, 1997, he asked me to marry him. Actually, he wrote it in the sand on a beach in Southern California. (I still have the stick he used and some of the sand that he wrote it in!)
I said yes. Then the flood gates of love poured out from my heart and I fell madly in love with him. The protective barrier that the Lord placed around my heart was opened and I gotta tell ya sister, WOW, I have never experienced anything like that before!
Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. Song of Solomon 2:7
Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. Song of Solomon 3:5
3 months later on March 14th, 1998, I became his wife and he became my Beloved. I couldn’t wait to leave the reception so I could finally ‘know’ my husband. I never ate cake so fast! (wink)
I found the one whom my soul loves. Song of Solomon 3:4
Words can never fully describe the spiritual experience that took place during our courtship & engagement because it was just that- a spiritual experience.
Was it easy? The surrendering? The waiting? No. No. and No.
So, was it worth it?
Let me ask you this question. When God is at the center of any good thing, is it worth it? I know you are smiling now because you know the answer is a resounding yes.
As a mother today, I can only hope and pray that the guidance and instruction that we have given to our boys will be heeded so they too can have the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of their courtship with the one that God has chosen for them.
I encourage you as either a single woman or the parent of an unmarried child to implement a Marriage Safety Checklist making sure the list has the essential biblical standards for a successful godly marriage. Consider it like a flight safety check list so the plane doesn’t crash, only, it’s for marriage!
Comb through the scriptures to find out what to look for in a God-fearing spouse. (Go back to my prior post for some helpful tips.)
If you are married and you are doing this for your children, apply those verses to your life as well. Become the type of woman that the Bible is referring to and your marriage will become better.
To those that are already married and you don’t have the best marriage remember this,
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23
My Beloved and I talked about how our paths crossed early on in life, yet we did not marry one another during those years. We couldn’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if we had waited or if all that we had gone through was a part of God’s plan.
I don’t know those answers. But I have two words that you will understand.
Free will. God allows His children to do many things.
Even though my Beloved went through 9 years of heartache and pain, he was faithful and the Lord blessed him.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
There are many marriages today where the husband and wife made their choice and God was left out in the choosing, however, here is the beauty of our God…HE IS ALWAYS A PART OF THE EQUATION! God is working on your behalf in your marriage. God may not have chosen your mate before you walked down the aisle, but as soon as you said your, ‘I Do’s’, He did! He has made you ‘one’ with your spouse.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
I’m going to leave you with this…
Free will applies to my marriage today. I have a marriage made up of two sinners and baggage! A great marriage takes hard work and I work hard on my marriage. I don’t put my marriage on auto pilot just because God chose my husband. But rather, I choose to make it my first ministry.
Yet, I am not so naive nor pious to think that hard times won’t come because I have lived through them! From losing our home, to an IRS audit, to a lawsuit, to not being able to afford rent and then having to move in with friends, I know what it’s like to have strains on my marriage. If the first marriage that God arranged was attacked in the Garden where things were perfect, then mine can be attacked even more so.