Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

June 13, 2007

A Foundation in Faith

I have had a few instances of words from the Lord that simply "dropped out of the sky." By that I mean, that I wasn't expecting these "communications," nor was I consciously seeking them. The two that come most to mind now occurred in my dating relationship with Margie. As many of you know, we had a dating relationship that was divided into two periods: "Act I" and "Act II," as Margie likes to say. The night when we broke up (end of Act I), I heard the Lord say, "Give it two years." I let that go as an imaginary delusion when Margie fell in love with someone else, and even more when I apologized to her for my mishandling of our first romance. At that time, she told me that she forgave me, but never imagined us getting back together (OUCH!)

I accepted that decision, and began thinking of dating others, all the while aware of my own responsibility for having failed to court Margie well. I was greatly helped by an essay in First Things by Leon and Amy Kass that applied Erasmus's Colloquy on Courtship to the situation of current youth. Leon and Amy are professors at the University of Chicago, and Leon served on the President's Task Force on Bioethics. I highly recommend the essay. It definitely made me aware of how differently I needed to approach any future commitment to dating or marriage, and particularly convicted me of how self-indulgent and protective I had been.
But in those days of 1999, I sensed that things were changing. Margie attended a talk I gave on "Hope" at a Redeemed Lives ministry. She left me a voice mail message. She invited me (through her best friend) to attend her birthday party (what was going on there???) I began to get the feeling that we could possibly have another chance, but hardly dared to try.

One Sunday morning in October, I looked across the sanctuary of our church and heard another one of those divine messages drop out of the sky saying, "Fear not, for I have given her to you." The most remarkable aspect of these words was how simple and unsolicited they were, yet how full of grace and love.

That evening, I had planned to go to a movie with Bob and Ita Fischer. Ita let me know that there were two other couples that might join us, and that Margie Clark might come along. That struck me as highly strange. What message was she trying to send? The movie was "Music of the Heart" with Meryl Streep, and as I came to sit down, there was a seat empty next to Margie. Ita invited me to the end of the group in the center of the theater, but I asked if I might simply sit in the seat next to Margie. When Margie said, "Oh, yes, I'd love it," my mouth nearly dropped. I considered it significant that she didn't opt to say "It's a free country, so sit where you want." But no. The entire movie was an experience of pleasure, not only for the quality of the story, but for the sense that a relational connection was afoot.

Margie went to a party, I went home, but I couldn't escape the need to call her. I left her a casual message, telling her that I wanted to ask her a question. What a shock when she called me back that same night at 10:30 pm. I took the jump and said, "Margie, I have noticed that you have been more open to being together in social settings recently, and I wondered what that might mean" -- (but careful not to stop at that point, I proceeded to say) -- "because I would like to date you again."

Margie paused for a moment, and replied, "The only thing I can say is, I'm open." At that point, I exploded in a ten-minute shout of joy. At home alone with her on the telephone, I screamed her name into the telephone with deafening exuberance. I couldn't believe it. I assured her that I would call back, and did so at 7:30 the next day.

All of this story is really prefatory to another one related to my current illness. I am not inclined to keeping track of dates and times. I never used a calendar in college. I operate very open-endedly, and it takes discipline for me to record events. But we have close friends who keep careful watch and have an intuitive sense of dates. What happened on that evening in October was an incredible example to me of divine providence. Margie and I had broken up on October 30, 1997. We attended that movie on October 31, 1999, and were married on October 14, 2000. I am still moved to tears when I look back on that (seemingly) casual promise from God, "Give it two years" and I see that he fulfilled that word to me to the day. I could not have orchestrated that. It laid a foundation in me for future faith. I'll write more about that later.

Blessings to all,