My daughter recently got into one of those moods where she had a thousand questions. These questions were more of a personal nature.
"Mommy, did you date anyone before daddy?"
A thousand, (ok six) stale memories flooded my mind as I made a mental note of every dating type situation I had encountered before meeting my husband. Sadly, I have to say I never dated...I had more of what you would call "close encounters". Here's the list. You be the judge.
1. I once fell in love with a seminary student. We worked together and took a drama class together. We were assigned a play to attend at a school an hour away. He asked me if I wanted to go with him. Date? I thought so. Turns out he forgot his wallet. I paid for tickets, gas, and food. Then on the way home he told me he was struggling with "feelings" he had for the same sex. I am not sure if that struggle started before or after he met me. If you have to convince a boy he should like girls, it's probably not a date.
2. I fell in love with another seminary student. I was at a youth activity where I was asked what I was looking for in a man. I said, "Blond, blue eyes, tall, and called to preach." He walked in and said, "Here I am." His mother suggested we go bowling. While we bowled I kept envisioning an aisle, alter, and 10 groomsman wearing white every time I looked down the alley at the pins. Everything was swell. He had money with him. He expressed no feelings for my brother or other males. All was well, until he told me of his struggles with pot, and the seminary's lack of support for such behavior. Apparently, he thought it would help him relate better to the youth once he was a youth pastor. Right.......I suggested that made as much sense as him trying to go through menopause so he could relate to women when he was a pastor.
3. I was once on a blind date with a boy just back from the Persian Gulf War. We were at a young married couple's gathering. It was very awkward. I didn't think it went too bad until I asked a mutual friend about him after not hearing from him for over a week. He re-enlisted for another tour of duty overseas. Again, I don't know if he made that decision before or after meeting me. If a man thinks the heat of battle on another continent is more enticing than another date with you, you may need to reevaluate your dating strategy.
4. I once had a youth pastor ask me out. It was the strangest invitation I ever received. He asked while I was at work at JC Penney's in the shoe department. In front of customers and co-workers He opened his wallet and showed me all of his ex-girlfriends pictures, along with a short description of their virtues, and failures. It was as if he was as if he was presenting a job description, telling me what would be required. "If you can sing like Debbie, but not nag like Peggy, dress like Sarah, but not laugh like Becky then I might consider making you the next member of my hall of fame!" I doubt Debbie, Becky, Peggy, and Sarah were carrying around pictures of him. Little did he know he had just joined a hall of fame of mine.
5. I once fell in love with a Mormon. I convinced myself it WAS possible that God had another book that He had Joseph Smith to dig up. God has a lot on his mind, surely He misplaces things from time to time. It was during this "close encounter" my dad, the preacher, nearly lost his mind. Turns out I wasn't a date to this boy, I was a new recruit for the Latter Day Saints. He became a Former Day Dud to me. It dawned on me later that if God couldn't keep up with His own book He wrote, and accidentally buried it, how in the world could He keep up with me? The answer-it wasn't His book to begin with! (So yes, let me re-itirate I only believe in ONE Holy Bible that is God's Word, the other is just....well....muddy.)
6. I once had a blind date with a boy my friend fixed me up with. He picked me up in his truck right after a big snow. As I went to pull myself up in the truck, I slammed my head into the door frame. I had blurred vision most of the night. When we arrived at the house, I stepped out of the truck into snow that looked about three inches deep. It was 3 feet deep. I fell, with my feet and torso sliding under the truck. Surprisingly, he called for a second date, which resulted in him being pulled over by the police for expired tags, expired license, and no insurance. Being the only licensed driver in the vehicle I had to drive the truck which was a standard. I had never driven a standard. We compromised with me steering and him shifting. On our third date, he ran out out of gas. On Valentines Day, he told me he loved me, and then said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that... I take it back." On August 30, I married him.
Needless to say I don't have a treasure box of mementos from all my suitors. All my notes, dried flowers, and pictures are from the only man I've ever kissed, or held hands with-my husband. But truthfully, those mementos would mean nothing without having a loving relationship with him.
Can I ask you something? Do you have a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, or just a lot of close encounters? Do you describe your ties with in Him in past tense, or as a daily, ongoing experience? Zaccheus could describe watching Jesus from a tree and having dinner with Him. Mary could describe Jesus' back and belly as she remembers bathing Him as a baby. The blind man could describe Jesus' face as he first saw Him through healed eyes. Mary could describe Jesus' feet as she remembers her tears running down his ankle and trickling between His toes. The Roman soldier could describe Jesus' hands as he remembers driving the nails through them. But these are all just close encounters. If there was no relationship formed, friendship forged, eternal connection made, or blood applied, these moments have no value.
Christ is not looking to be an entry in my journal occasionally, an event on my calendar a few Sundays a month, an emergency number on my fridge when things get too tough, or even the main character in a little anecdote I share with friends or my Sunday School Class. He came to earth to get up close and personal with His creation. He was up and close and personal with Adam and Eve before the Fall. He longs and desires for an intimate, daily, loving relationship with us. When we are living in that closeness with Him, we find mementos of His love all around us-a colorful sunset, a cool breeze, a child's laughter, a favorite song on the radio-they all become love messages from our Creator to His Bride. All reminders of His thoughts toward us that outnumber the sands on the seas.
If God were to be asked, "Did you love anyone else before Jennifer?" His answer would be, "No. It was not love at first sight, but love at first thought. I have loved her for as long as I can remember, since the foundation of the world! I planned our moments together before I formed her. I poured out my love for her on the cross, before she drew her first breath. I began preparing her mansion before she said, 'Amen' at the end of her sinner's prayer. She's doesn't even realize all the ways I daily intervene in her life, showing my love through my provision, protection, and preparations I make for her. My love can be seen as a constant thread woven into her life moment by moment. "
Can my love for Him be seen as thread woven through my life moment by moment? Sadly, no. When the tapestry of my life is over, inevitably there be will be spots bare where I failed to contribute anything to the fabric of my relationship with Christ. Just because He will always love me, and never look for another more willing and able to reciprocate His love, does not mean I should take advantage of Him. For, truthfully, when we neglect Him, it is we who lose.
So, no Rachael, I didn't date before Daddy. But I did have a Secret Admirer who pursued me until I was nine years old before revealing Himself to me in alter of prayer. Now, I hope to spend the rest of my life pursuing Him, catching Him daily in close encounters.