Merry and I are attending a Sunday-night class at our church on the Christian life. We’ve been followers of Christ for many years, but sometimes it’s nice to take a sort of “refresher course” about familiar truths.
So the other night we were asked to meet with another couple and share a story about a time when God had worked in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
I told about a morning three weeks before our wedding. I awoke at around 5 a.m. and couldn’t sleep. I felt restless and uneasy as I thought about getting married; I was anxious about the new responsibilities I was taking on as a husband.
So I got up and went for a long walk as the city slowly awoke. It was one of those times when I was unusually reflective—I thought of how God had worked in my life over the previous five years. I thought of how He had provided for me, and I thought of familiar Scriptures that reminded me of His love for me and His control over my life.
And then came the moment that I most remember more than 30 years later. I sensed very clearly God telling me through His Spirit, “If you have any doubts that I am going to guide you over your life, just think of this: Out of all the people in this city, you are the one who I got out of bed early in the morning just so you could walk and spend time with Me.”
That moment remains a touchstone for me—a time when God let me know that He would never leave me or forsake me.
Just after she graduated from high school, Merry joined 80,000 other students for a Campus Crusade for Christ conference in Dallas called EXPLO 72. It was a life-changing week for Merry in many ways, but one of the most memorable experiences occurred about midway through the event.
Merry became sick and dehydrated, and she was taken to a Red Cross tent outside the Cotton Bowl. The people caring for her felt she was worn down from the hectic schedule and that she needed to return to her hotel, but it wouldn’t work to wait hours for her group to leave on the bus. So they prayed that someone would come along to give her a ride.
Not more than two minutes later a young man walked into the tent and said, “I don’t know why, but I just received a very strong impression that I should come in here and ask if anyone needs a ride.”
As it turned out, the young man did more than offer Merry a ride. He called his parents, and they invited her to stay with them in nearby Fort Worth while she recuperated. So that’s where she stayed for the remainder of the conference. For Merry it was the first time she had ever observed a family that operated with Christ at the center of their home, and it made a strong impression on her. So strong that she determined that she would pray for a husband who was in love with God, and in the meantime she wouldn’t date anyone unless he was a committed Christian. As she likes to say, “I gave God my date life, and He took it.”
After we finished these stories, the other couple said, “Do you see how those two stories are connected?” In more than 30 years, we had never thought of it before; this was the first time we told those two stories together.
We always thought these were two separate accounts of God working in our lives. But now I see a link: In 1972, Merry saw her heavenly Father provide for her needs in a special way, and she committed to trust God for a husband who walked with Him. At the time, this man had not yet trusted Christ as his Lord and Savior, but seven years later he was willing to get up at 5 a.m. to walk with God and listen to His voice. I call that an answered prayer.
Makes me think I need to get up early and take those walks more often.
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