The other night Tony and I met my good friends Colleen Coble and Diann Hunt at the Orlando airport, along with their wonderful husbands, Dave and Jim. We drove them to their hotel to begin their RV Book Tour, but first dined at Tony Romas. Yum.
During dinner, we got to talking about how each couple met, and I said, "Tony and I had a very weird beginning, too long to tell."
Colleen said, "Let's hear it." So, I gave the abbreviated version.
We met in the winter of '88, both of us 27. I was working for Harris, just launching my on-the-road career, and Tony was the Singles and Youth Pastor.
Between my travels, we finally went on a date in March of '88. I liked him well enough, but wasn't sure he was the one, until God told me. Now I ask, who wants to be the weird single girl who thinks God has told her the handsome single pastor is her husband?
Meanwhile, Tony felt the Lord telling him we were just going to be friends. Any initial attraction he felt toward me in the beginning was gone.
We survived an awkward first year, and talked about our relationship after my company Christmas dinner. I knew he just wanted to be friends, and we were on our way already to becoming best friends, but he didn't know exactly what God continued to speak to me for a year.
We sat in his old blue Oldsmobile until midnight talking. I confessed God told me we were going to get married. He didn't flinch, didn't freak, didn't run and hide under his bed. He trusted my relationship with God enough to know I'd hear Him when He wanted to correct me and tell me we were just to be friends.
Disclaimer: Please do not try this at home. Not recommended.
In fact, we both trusted each other to hear God. The fact we were hearing different things puzzled us.
For three years we were friends. We tried to date a few times, tried to break off our relationship all together, but always ended right back together being best friends. We ministered together, hung out almost every night at my apartment with my roommate(s).
Then another woman entered the picture and while Tony didn't go out with her, spending time with her was the catalyst for him to go to God with a serious intent: Is Rachel my wife? One of our good friends was praying for him and with him although I knew nothing of it.
God spoke to Tony. Rachel's the one. Great, he said. Still don't have the hots for her. Something most couples like to have when they get married.
The Lord is so gracious. He is truly in command of all things. Even our emotions. By now we were 31, and committed 3.5 years to our relationship. In the mean time, I'd fallen in love with him. My heart was layed open and bare, carefully entrusted to the Lord.
Tony told the Lord he'd marry me without the "feelings," but he thought it'd be better for me if he did. The Lord gave Tony a date in August. While he didn't know what the Lord was going to do on that day, he surmised it had something to do with me.
I threw a kink in the works by being out of town that weekend, driving home my Indiana and Kentucky vacation. But the next day...
The church was having a picnic and I stopped by on my way back into town to say Hi. Tony was carrying the trash to the bin and when he turned to wave hello, God opened up his eyes and his heart. All the feelings he needed to ask a woman to marry him slammed him.
Freaked me out. Who is the affectionate guy?
We were engaged two months later and got married the following March, four years and a day after our first date in '88.
Often I wonder why God took us on such a journey? To build a friendship and foundation? Yes. To teach me to be patient, to trust and wait on Him. To know His voice and be confident even when the circumstances don't line up. Most definitely yes. To completely trust my heart to Him. You tell me.
I'd hoped to never apply that lesson again in my life, but I realize I do every day. With writing, with Fire Dweller, with relationships.
The best part is knowing how intimately acquainted He is with all of our ways - even our emotions.
Grace and Peace.