The Sunday morning we announced our engagement at church one of the men said to his wife, “I think someone is telling us they are engaged today. I just feel it!” Then he mentally went through his list of the possible guys who could be engaged. As Kevin stood up in front to share something, Albert thought, “Wait a minute! He’s not on my list!” Then he did a rapid listing of the possible girls Kevin could be engaged to and when MY name was shared, he thought, “Wait a minute! She’s not on my list EITHER!!”
When we heard the story later, we both chuckled. But we also realized that we had succeeded in not letting our courtship keep us from our ministry and fellowship in the life of the church. This had been a goal for us. Yes, we wanted to spend a lot of time together getting to know one another and seeking wisdom and direction on marriage from God. No, we didn’t want to create a relationship that was all consuming or that would keep us away from ministry and loving the saints and reaching out to the lost.
On the day of our announcement, everyone was surprised (except our pastors, roommates and best friends) because we still continued to maintain our focus for the Kingdom of God. Even when we began to minister TOGETHER people didn’t suspect.
I told you that the gals in my office were completely intrigued with our relationship. They had no concept of what purity meant, but they were so excited to see each ‘episode’ as it unfolded. If he came by and dropped off a single rose at the reception desk, they were tickled. When I told them about the first time he held my hand (1 month before we got married), they were enraptured. When I shared when he finally kissed me for the first time (10 days before we got married and that he shook with nervousness for 20 minutes before he did), they had tears in their eyes!!
To watch them watching me and seeing their love, admiration and longing (in a sense) for the purity of our relationship was so marvelous and really opened up conversations about my faith. Even the men in our office (some of whom were very bawdy in their speech, jokes and manner) showed a certain honor toward our relationship.
I remember one particular day after work about a week before the wedding. I had gone out during lunch to buy my nightie for the wedding night and the girls all wanted to see it. I waited for the men to leave (or so I thought) and had it out for the gals to see and Bob came by. When he saw what it was, he looked at me and actually BLUSHED as he averted his eyes and hurried away. And he was one of the most outright raunchy of them all!
This showed me so clearly how attractive purity really is. Now I’m not talking about when we try and JAM it down other’s throats by putting down their choices and lifestyle. I’m talking about when we unconditionally love others but quietly live our life in purity and righteousness before the Lord. When we are actually living out JESUS in our lives, it is very attractive to others. Unfortunately, it is often the Christian (and our self-righteous holier-than-thou attitudes) that turn others away from Jesus. Jesus they are drawn to…it’s US they are not!
I had learned a lot over the years about loving others and letting JESUS shine instead of me (and let me tell you, I learned it the HARD way!) My relationships with these gals was such that they really listened to my life experiences and had, to an extent, a great longing for what I had deep in my heart. NONE of this is a credit to me! It is all about the work that God had done (and is continuing to do) in my heart to change me from being a critical and judgmental person into one who could love and accept others more freely.
We had planned on having our wedding in Albuquerque, where we lived. My family would be coming out (whoever could) and we’d be married with our church family. Then my mother had several heart attacks and the doctors said she couldn’t fly out, and our plans changed. With 1 month to plan it, we switched our wedding to FL.
Next time I’ll finish the story with our wedding. I’ll be sorry to finish up this series. It has been so much fun remembering and recounting all the things God did in the course of our relationship. It has been very good to get it all down for my children to remember, too.
I love, love, love this sweet story – it is so God honoring.
Thanks, Bonnie! We really wanted to start our marriage EXACTLY with that purpose – to honor God.
So wonderful- I really have been loving this story- and your engagement reminded me alot of mine. I remember when we announced our engagement people were actually surprised- because we had done the same thing as both of you- continued ministering and doing things in groups and only leadership and close family knew of our intention.
I also loved your testimony to those who you worked with- your ‘living’ testimony- as you said so much better than the self righteousness that we often mistake as what real christian living is- wonderful.
Cannot wait to hear of the wedding and I will be sad the story is over.
Connie, isn’t it great when our relationships become A PART of our whole life of service to the King rather than supplants it? Thanks for following our story!! It’s really been fun writing it all down.