One night not too long after this, some friends were deciding where to go eat after the Friday night meeting, and Doug asked if I was going with the group. When I replied that I wasn’t sure, he asked, “Well, would you come if I saved you a seat?” My heart pounding, I turned to look at him fully. It was only a brief second, but I saw as we looked at each other, something I’d not seen in him before. A vulnerability. I noticed his pulse beating in his neck, and although his face remained passive, I knew what I was seeing. He was taking a chance by asking me, and it meant something to him.
We did go for ice cream with the group that evening, and as we approached the table where all our friends sat, Doug stepped ahead of me to pull out my chair. I felt so many questioning eyes on us as we sat down, my cheeks burned. For a brief moment, my mind flashed back to those painful days of watchful eyes as I sat by myself on Sunday mornings at church following my divorce. Someone asked for my order, but I hadn’t yet seen the menu; I was flustered and looked down the length of the table and then back to my right, meeting Doug’s gaze. He grinned at me and I took a breath.
You want to know something? I think that’s how love starts. At its earliest origin, way before a promise of love has even been imagined, when it’s just the merest possibility, I think love feels like the nearness of companionship and realizing you are not alone. I think love looks like the face of someone who recognizes your discomfort and offers you a grin. Shortly after, we had our first ‘official’ date, and a little over a year later, we were married.
Twenty-seven years of marriage and four grown children later, my ice cream dates with Doug are still my favorite. Our life has had all manner of challenges – highs, lows, and everything in between. We have had to learn to grow together and to keep choosing each other time and time again. It looks nothing like perfect. We are opposites in almost every way and the road is not always easy. But it is good to remember these early days. It is good to recall the hardships, the mistakes, the pain, our vulnerability, and God’s goodness through it all.
The things I learned as a young adult are still the same lessons I need to call to mind now, and I expect that will be so until I see my Lord face to face. The things we face in this life are common to us all and recalling God’s faithfulness to us throughout the events of our lives provides us with the strength and courage to carry on. One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in the book of Acts:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life, and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:24-27
God is in charge. He is the sovereign giver of life, breath, and everything. He decided the exact time we would be born, and the day and time we will draw our final breath. The place we enter this world and all the places we live after that are not random when our lives belong to him. Nothing about our existence is happenstance, he is a God of intention. And yet, that is our great struggle sometimes. God has marked out the times and confines of our lives, but we are not always happy or comfortable with these boundaries. Though we might be quick to deny this, we often consider them limitations. We prove this time and again by how infrequently we seek him.
The cost of not seeking God is high. It means that everything about our life, our value, our success, our peace and joy – everything – is dependent on us. Not only can we not afford this cost – it is literally humanly impossible for us to pay it. And that is why, in the passage above, God sets limits for us: Because he loves us: “God did this so they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” He is near and he wants us to know him. He allows us the freedom of choosing to seek him or not, but either way, “he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” He gives all that we have, and all that we need. That is True Love. It’s been my privilege to share one of my life stories of Finding True Love here at the blog! Have you found this True Love for yourself? Remember – he is near – you can seek him!