When I Fell in Love

1-john-4-19

I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with this man.

He was on stage the first time I saw him, portraying Mr. Elton in a production of Jane Austen’s Emma (my favorite), and I was an audience member.   I laughed loud and long when he delivered the first line of the play while pretending to read from a book:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

I heard my laugh hit the silence of the auditorium.  Apparently, I was the only one who got the joke (as a character from Emma read the first line from Pride and Prejudice).  And so I slumped into my chair wishing someone—anyone—shared my sense of humor.

I actually met him a week later after a college worship service.  Someone in the crowd pointed to the guy up front strumming the guitar.  “See that guy,” he said, “You just saw him on stage last week.”

Unbeknownst to me, this young guy who led worship and the drama ministry and acted in productions based on my favorite literature had just prayed a daring prayer two weeks before.

He told God he wasn’t looking for a relationship any more.  He was content to be single until God hit him over the head with a 2 x 4 and told him “Thou shalt marry this girl.”

I met him two weeks after that.

And a week after that, I was the new pianist on his praise team (and he’s still my worship leader even now).

I fell in love with the way he used his gifts and talents for God’s glory.

There was his calmness, too.  I loved my dad, but life with him wasn’t calm; it was loud much of the time and sometimes downright volatile.  This man, though, measured his words with wisdom and careful thoughtfulness.

Add to that his quick and witty humor that kept me giggling endlessly in the corner of the praise team section, and I realized that he was smarter than me and that was okay.

We’ve never been an opposites-attract kind of couple.  We’re probably two of the most alike people who God matched together.

Except for the fact that he only cares about doing what’s right and not whether it pleases anyone else while I’m a people-pleaser.

And the fact that he can rest and take time (perhaps . . . dare I say it . . .procrastinate) and I’m neurotically pushed to do and do and do relentlessly, first, fastest, and rest when you die.

I can’t say when it happened, but at some point I fell in love.

I can’t speak for him and say exactly why he fell in love with me.

Nor can I say exactly why God loves any of us either, surely not my awkward, nervous, uptight, worrying self.

Amazingly, though, this isn’t a “fall in love” kind of love at all.  God doesn’t grow to love any of us over time or awaken one morning and realize how much He cares.

HE LOVES US.

It really is the beginning and the end of our story.

Like the first time I saw my children, I loved them in an instant–loved them even before I saw them actually.  I didn’t slowly grow to appreciate their character or develop feelings for them over time.

In Jeremiah, God declares:

“before I formed you in the womb I knew you”

and David similarly prayed,

“you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13).

God loved you before you squinted your eyes at the first burst of light, screamed, and got cleaned off, bundled up and handed to your mom.

He loves you when you feel loved and when you feel overlooked, when you received a blessing and when you endured a trial.  This love of his doesn’t wax or wane, change or alter or depend on us and what we do or say or feel or think.

We’ve never been good enough, pure enough, beautiful enough, or wise enough to earn it.

But even though we’re unworthy, even when we’ve strayed, even when we’ve felt that seemingly incurable distance from Him or poured out in painful honesty what’s troubling us…

STILL HE LOVES.

He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

And what can we do with this everlasting and unfailing love, so amazing and confusing because it’s far more than we deserve?

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Originally published September 24, 2012

Will You Still Love Me After Four Kids, a Minivan and a Mortgage?

I made the list when I was about 14-years-old or so.

With cramped cursive letters, I wrote in my journal:

Things I Want My Husband to Be Like

Then I divided the list into “Non-negotiables” and “Negotiables.”  Or”Requirements” versus “Desires.”  Or some other dual-heading system like that.

Because even then I was neurotic about list-making.

I was spiritual about it, of course.  I prayed before making the list and then again afterward.1 corinthians 13

Even though I can’t find the list anymore in my pile of teenage journals, I still remember most of the items on there.

Non-negotiables:

  1. Not just a nominal Christian, but someone who is passionate about God and His Word and is actively using his spiritual gifts to praise God and minister to others.
  2. Someone I can respect intellectually.
  3. No substance abuse issues.
  4. Faithful.
  5. Hard working.
  6. Unselfish.
  7. Calm without problems controlling his anger.

Negotiables:

  1. Please, God, can he play the guitar since I play the piano?
  2. I kind of like blue eyes.

Amen.

Fourteen years ago, I married this blue-eyed, guitar-playing man who was everything on my list and so much more.

He’s the only guy I ever dated.  The only man I’ve ever kissed or held hands with or told, “I love you.”  After all, not many men would live up to “The List.”

And I’ll confess it.

I still get all weepy every….single….time he weaves his fingers through mine and prays with me.

I’m still his biggest fan whether he’s on the stage acting in a play or grabbing his guitar and stepping up to the mic to lead worship at our church.

And when he reaches out and places his hand on mine when we’re driving around town in our minivan with four kids (possibly screaming, singing, fighting, or laughing) in the back seats, my heart totally stops for a second or two.

I pretty much still have a teenage crush on this guy.

Back when I was making my ‘husband list,’ I was thinking things like:

What kind of guy would I want to spend the rest of my life with?

Who do I want to date forever?

Whose eyes do I want to gaze into when sitting at a candlelit table?

But I wasn’t thinking this.

Who will give me grace when I’m grumpy?

Who will see the ugliest parts of my heart and dare to love me anyway?

Who will watch me push a baby out of my body or see the surgical scar from a C-section…or see me on days when I’m covered in baby spit-up, child-vomit, or other bodily fluids from my kids and still make me feel beautiful?

One day you just wake up and you’re the one with the minivan, the mortgage, a few extra pounds, gray hair, and four kids.

So, I’m so thankful I didn’t marry someone I could only do romance with, but someone I could do life with, as well.

After all, you can do beautiful with most anybody; it takes someone special to plow through the sludge for you when the plumbing breaks down or to team up with you against the hard days.

In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas writes:

Marriage can be that holy place, the site of a relationship that proclaims God’s love to the world.

Paul said it this way:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV).

So, maybe this is what should have been on my list all along: At the end of the day, people should see my marriage and say, “Wow, look at the faithful, unselfish, sacrificial, gracious way that God loves the church!”

And as I approach my 15th wedding anniversary I’m remembering this: marriage isn’t just a secondary something I do while I minister to God elsewhere.  Marriage is my ministry, my sacred calling, the workshop God uses to make me more like Christ, and the way He can use me to show God’s love to my husband, my children, and to the world.

If you knew a young woman who was making “a list” of qualities to look for in a husband, what would you suggest she put on that list?

Originally posted on JANUARY 22, 2014

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!
To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King