A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
I’m a late starter in respect to fads and other activities people take part in. I bought my first video game system well after they were introduced. I got my first smart phone later than most. And my entrance into social media was years after a lot of my friends. But all these things were my choice. I don’t jump into something without making sure it’s what I want and that I’m ready for it but the one thing that took a really long time for me to get around to was something I thought would just happen. Marriage. God’s timing is never in sync with our timing. We want what we want sooner than later but God gives (or doesn’t give) when He’s prepared us for it. This is a condensed version of how God worked in my life in respect to timing and patience.
Growing up it seemed like marriage was not that hard to achieve. You date for a while. After a few tries you find the right one and that’s it. A lot of my friends from school were married with kids by the time we had our five-year reunion. This was something I was looking forward to but God had other plans for me.
I spent my twenty’s doing all the typical things guys at that age do. Going out with my friends, hitting on girls, and sometimes getting into trouble. All throughout that time I figured at any day the perfect girl would come along and my life would be in sync with everyone else.
I was thirty when I gave my life to God and started going to church. The first few years I didn’t give much thought to marriage. I devoted my life to learning everything I could about God and His word. It wasn’t until some of my friends from church started to get married that I started to think about it again. I was in my mid to late thirties when I began to look for a girlfriend who might be “The One”.
I asked my friends if they knew any single girls but they weren’t much help. I tried a few Christian dating websites. I went on one date and it was a miserable outing. After about two years of trying almost everything to find someone I was ready to commit emotional suicide. I thought if God had kept me single all this time there must be a good reason so I was going to give up any thought of finding the perfect girl and sink into the realization that I was destined to be alone.
At this point I was the big four-zero. I split my time between work, church, and playing the occasional round of golf. One day I was going through my golf bag and I noticed I was low on golf balls and tees. It was a Friday and I was going to go to the local sporting goods store to stock up. I brought my dad along with me so after getting what I needed he and I could have dinner together. As we got out of the car at the store my dad looked over at me and asked if I was still doing the online dating. I told him that it wasn’t working and I was going to give up and forget trying. He looked at me across the roof of my car and said, “You can’t give up hope.” My dad said something that I never expected him to say. I was stunned. I thanked him for what he said but didn’t give it much thought afterwards.
People say that God works in mysterious ways. I take that proverb with a grain of salt. It’s been thrown around a lot and while I’m sure He can it’s not something I ascribed to. That all changed when a strange series of events occurred that can only be God’s doing. I’m not someone who likes to skip church. I love the fellowship with my friends and hearing the message. But one Sunday for no reason I remember, I decided to forgo church and have a lazy day. It was almost noon when I got a phone call from a friend. As a matter of fact she was more than a friend. She was someone very special to me.
I met Amy in high school. I was painfully shy and she saw me as a challenge. She made it her mission to pry me out of my shell and get me to do the one thing I didn’t do much of back then. Talk. We became fast friends. We were inseparable when we were together at school. We even tried dating for a while but my shyness got in the way and we backed off to just being friends again. But I never got over her. For years I loved her from a distance. She met someone and got married almost right out of school. I was happy for her but deep down I wished it was me instead of him.
Years went by and we remained good friends. Things didn’t go so well for her and her husband and they divorced. This was it. I was going to tell her how much I cared for her. We had gotten together to talk about everything that was going on. I was going to use this time to tell her how I felt but before I could she told me she was moving in with a guy she met. I smiled and told her I was happy things were working out for her. I left there feeling like I lost my last chance. While our friendship continued we saw less and less of each other. She married again and her new husband didn’t want her to have any communication with me. He was a very jealous person. Fast forward thirteen years and I’m sitting in my room after skipping church and Amy calls me out of the blue. Her life had hit an extreme rock bottom. Her husband kicked her out. She lost her job. She was contemplating saving everyone the shame of knowing her by ending things, permanently. But that Sunday she had gone to church. Something she hadn’t done in a very long time. She was living with her parents and they wanted her to come with them. After their church ended they returned home and Amy sat in the backyard and she prayed. She asked God what she should do. I don’t think she was expecting an answer but when she stopped praying she heard a small voice tell her to call me. So she did.
If I had gone to church I never would have gotten the call and Amy told me later if I didn’t answer she was going to end things that day. I never stopped loving Amy and when she came over I told her right away. Looking back I can see a lot of the things God did to move us into the places we needed to be to bring us together. And it wasn’t just timing. God had brought us both through a lot and taught us lessons we needed to learn so we could have a future together. Without those years we might have never made it.
Amy and I were married a little more than a year after that phone call. God’s timing is incredible. If things didn’t go just the right (or wrong) way then this story would never have happened. I thank God every day for Amy and the life we have together. He also blessed us with a little girl. Her name is Hope because of what my dad said to me right before everything that happened. The next time you start to wonder if God hears you or think He has forgotten about you remember my story. It took twenty years for me to be with the perfect girl and while there was a lot of heartache and pain getting to this place, I would never change a second of what happened.
I hope those who read this are encouraged. God brought me through many things to prepare me for the family He was going to bless me with. I know there are people reading this waiting for God to move in their lives. It will happen. Eventually. Don’t give up hope. It’s my prayer that whatever God does in your life you receive it with thanksgiving and use it to honor Him.