February 15, 2010
It was simply an act of God’s grace. That’s the only way you could possibly explain it. I was in graduate school, 23 years old, on my own and living to please myself. She was in undergraduate school, 19 years old, and living to please the Lord. Her friends were all involved in campus ministries, went to church faithfully, witnessed to people like me whenever they could. My friends were an odd assortment of graduate students who had no life but their studies, and actors. My friends were likely to take another path when they saw people like her friends coming toward them with a tract or a Bible. She was not a smoker or a drinker or a partier of any kind. I, uh, was not like her. She dressed modestly and was careful not to flirt with guys, especially guys like me. None of the girls I had been friends with in college, with maybe the exception of one or two, had been anything but flirts, boy-crazy, immodestly dressed, and simply put, not good girls. She had close friends whom she cared about because of who they were, not because of what they could do for her. I had some friends in college, but most of them were like me: They were around for the good times but seemed to disappear when the going got tough. She had a growing relationship with Jesus Christ that was real and evident in her words and actions. I had a stagnant relationship with Jesus Christ that had been ignored for several years as I pursued my own agenda and lived life the way I wanted to live it.
The fact that God brought us together on a sunny June day in 1981 still boggles my mind. And thrills my soul. I was not looking for a wife and was the furthest thing from being ready for a wife. She was not looking for a husband and, in fact, was all but engaged to a man who was preparing to be a missionary. If anybody had told Cindy a week before she met me that she would fall in love with a man who lived like I did at the time, she would laugh and shake her head. I was the kind of guy her father had warned her about before she went off to Carolina. Hey, I was the kind of guy I have warned my own daughters about. If someone who lives like I did at the age of 23 wanted to court my 20-year-old daughter, I would laugh and shake my head and send him packing. Or, maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I would want to sit down with him first and see if there was anything beneath the surface. Maybe I would want to see if, in fact, the grace of God had brought him into our lives so that we could turn his head around. If God can take the likes of me and turn my head and my heart back to himself, then God can do the same with anybody. The only reason that Cindy stuck around and put up with my foolishness was because God gave her eyes to see beneath the surface. That’s what God’s grace can do. That’s why God’s grace is so amazing.
Happy Valentine’s Day, darling. Thanks for letting me win your heart while God was winning mine.
“Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters” (Song of Solomon, 2:2).