Yesterday, my five year old, Marfy, asked me the sweetest question in a way only she is capable of, “Mommy, is college where you found Richard to be your man?” (Is it okay to want to eat your own kids up when they are so adorable?!?) My response was, “yes, darlin’, college is where I found him to be my man.” Simple answer to a plan much longer in the making. Her question summons up thoughts of high school and our church youth group. I remember a meeting when our youth minister asked us to all sit down and pray for our future spouses. I was 16 or so, and a new Christian, so I kept it simple – asking God for my husband to be a strong Christian man who was praying for me just as I was praying for him. I wouldn’t mind if he were to be easy on the eyes, too, but the Godly man thing, definitely.
For those of you who don’t know my husband as well as others, let me tell you that God answered this prayer in a way that would blow your mind and it is an absolute testimony of His faithfulness, grace and mercy in my life. After giving my life to the Lord in high school, I spent several years of college in a pit of rebellion and sin. I won’t go into unnecessary detail, but I am not proud of my behavior during those years. However, God has used that time to teach me a most important lesson that I do not regret. A lesson of humility, gratitude, and redemption. During these years, I came to know a boy in my study group. We got to be very close friends. We studied together, spent time together, and got to know each others’ histories. I knew that he was a Christian. He had intelligence, integrity, and was becoming a man of character. He was good lookin’. (Not that I was lookin’!) He was even a Republican. The only thing missing was the “spark.” It turns out, God was just guarding my heart until the right time. It happened at the end of our Junior year, just all of a sudden-like. Love at first sight, just love at first sight… two and a half years later.
I wish I could say that great love immediately turned me into a better person. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the most teachable student at the time. I still continued along the path of bad decisions and irresponsibility. But, for who He is and in His wisdom, God remained faithful, and somehow that boy, that man, did become my husband. At a point in the beginning of our marriage, we came to the conviction that we needed God to be the foundation of our relationship, and for His principles to govern it. We surrendered our marriage to Him. Later than we should have, but, thankfully, not later than we did. Praise God, it is never too late to repent.
My mother-in-law has told me she prayed for me when Richard was young, long before our lives intersected. Richard, himself, did in fact pray for me before he knew me. I’m sure my parents and others prayed as well. What a generous God we have, who loves us and honors our prayers that are asked in His will. What patience He has for us. I am just supposing this, but as a parent I can imagine how eagerly God anticipates the “Aha!” moment when we finally see the big picture and realize what God had in store for us all along. God knew Richard and me before we knew each other, before our own mothers knew us. He knew what our choices would be, our sins, our failures. Knowing all that I would do, knowing what I really deserve, God chose Richard for me anyway. I found him to be my man, and every day since then found him to be my spiritual leader, my accountability partner, my patient and loving co-parent, my teacher, my audience(I confess, I got some drama), and my best friend. A prodigal daughter could do worse. A redeeming Father did His best.