(NOTE: today's devotion is personal look into my marriage...enjoy or delete. You chose.)
Almost 15 years ago to this minute I was standing on the plush red carpet of a beautiful church just north of Vidalia, Georgia. Across from me was the most gorgeous girl in all the world (and she still is), but I had a hard time seeing her. See, I was crying. Walked in the church. Started crying. Didn't stop crying until the ceremony was complete. Yep, I do cry (and I am man enough to admit it).
To my right was my best man, my dad. Looking on was my mom, my family who traveling a long, long way to be there, my new family and lots of people who cared about us. The memories. Sweet.
Just that week I had been mowing the yard at Bear Creek Baptist Church, where I was pastor of my first church, something hit my eye and scratched my eyeball. It hurt. Had to wear a patch until the morning of my wedding (some of you might remember that). But this was a great week.
11 months earlier I was introduced to this young lady at lunch after church. She was dating the grandson of a member of the church I pastored. Not too many months later this same grandmother was encouraging me, no Pushing me to ask her out. That I did. Our first date was the first week of January. She tried to run me off, but for the next few weeks, for some reason, I pursued this girl with purpose (no, I did not stalk her as some of you might think). It was not until February 12, 1993 that she caved in, said she would marry me.
Those were some sweet times to say the least. I took her to an opera, and she tried to brake my nose (that's my story, and I am sticking to it). Her folks didn't know what to think of this preacher from out of town that wouldn't leave their youngest daughter alone.
One thing I remember so very well is the night that I fell in with Julie Howell. We were talking about life with its good and bad, and something hit me. It was some kind of understanding I had never had before. Unconditional love, the kind like my mom has for me and God has told me about. No judging. No asking for what I needed. Just real love. That has not ended. Yep, I've made my share of mistakes and acted like I didn't love (I am stupid at times), but I love my bride with all my heart.
Early in our time together, before we were engaged, God gave me this promise:
Philippians 4:6-7 (nasb) --- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I had been uptight and looking for someone for a long time. I wanted to be married. God said wait. That I did. God provided. I remembered:
Proverbs 18:22 (nasb) --- He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.
These 15 years have brought highs and lows. They have brought three awesome kids that light up our lives. They have brought us to several churches full of people who have loved us and we love. They have brought us closer than I would have ever thought possible.
Lots of other things I remember, but the biggest thing that I need to say in today's devotion is this: Julie, I love you! Song of Solomon 6:3 (nasb) --- I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine...