When I was in my late 20s, I made a list of qualities I desired in a future husband. Some people think that is a fantastic idea, others think it is horrid… I will not argue the point, since I do understand both views. Speaking for myself, though, I found it to be helpful.
I did not list any shallow qualifications based on appearance, financial position, or social status. A few of my greatest desires were…
* Someone who loves God more than he loves me, and who will serve God with me.
* Someone who is a friend first. (I wanted to know he liked me for who I truly am.)
* Someone who doesn’t pursue me with shallow flirtation or flattery. (I wanted our foundation to be a deep, spiritual connection.)
* Someone who is open and transparent with me, even about his flaws and weaknesses.
* Someone who is not divorced. (I was taught from childhood that divorce and remarriage were unbiblical.)
On June 7, 2016, I met a man who I would soon discover had all of the above qualities – except one.
I met Ron Hawthorne at a Bible study. He was unsaved at the time, but he was searching; and on 7/5/16, he was saved. (I had the privilege of watching that happen.) He was more excited about his salvation than anyone I have ever seen. The next week, he invited more than a dozen people to the Bible study. He couldn’t get enough of the Bible, and he had a passion to tell everyone he could about Jesus. A few weeks after he got saved, he said to me, “I just couldn’t stop thinking about God all day. Is that ok? Does that make me a fanatic?” (I told him that definitely made him a fanatic, but that was a good thing. 😊)
During the next several months, we became good friends. We ministered together at church and Bible study, we talked about the Bible and the things God was doing for us, and we prayed for each other. We had fun together and enjoyed each other’s company.
In August, he expressed interest in dating me, but when I responded that he was like a brother to me, he accepted my answer graciously. We continued our friendship, and he prayed often for me to find a husband, even if it could not be him.
He did not bring up the subject again until February, 2017. By then, we had become very close, and I was developing an interest in him, but there was one problem: he had been divorced, so I didn’t think God would allow me to marry him. I was conflicted. Part of me wanted to say yes, but I had to honor God.
I told him that I needed to pray about it, and I asked him to do the same. For the next month, we both prayed, and I dug into the Bible for answers. Our friendship became closer all the time, and I soon fell in love with him, but I was determined not to date him unless God gave me the green light. I was also determined that the green light would have to come from the Bible, not a feeling of “having peace about it,” or an opinion, or the well-meaning advice of others. The problem was, I didn’t see how that could happen. My beliefs about divorce and remarriage had always come from the Bible, and the Bible doesn’t change.
I told the Lord, “It seems like Ron Hawthorne is so perfect for me – like he is the one I have been praying for all these years – and I don’t understand why You would finally send me someone like that if I am not going to be allowed to marry him. I promise I will not date him without your permission… but please, God, PLEASE can I keep him?”
On March 18, 2017, after 4 weeks of prayer, counsel, and Bible study, I received my answer from God. I was studying I Corinthians 7, a passage I had probably read dozens of times in my 43 years. For the first time in my life, verses 27-28 jumped out at me, and I realized that when Paul said, “If thou marry, thou hast not sinned,” he was speaking to divorced people!
My first thought was, “There it is! I can marry Ron Hawthorne!”
My second thought was, “How did I miss this my whole life? I am an English teacher who pays exceptionally close attention to the meanings of words!”
I know how I missed it though. First, I wasn’t looking for it before, because in my younger years, I took what I had always been taught at face value. More importantly though, I believe the Holy Spirit was waiting for the right time to reveal it to me. He waited until I was a 43-year-old single woman, finally in love for the first time, but afraid I would never be able to marry him, so that when I finally got the green light to do so, I would KNOW that it was GOD that brought us together.
See, that was another item on my list. I determined many years ago that when I walked down the aisle, I wanted to KNOW that the man at the end of that aisle was sent to me by GOD. God has given me that assurance in many other ways since then, but it started on March 18, 2017.
One week later, after counseling with my pastor to confirm what I had found, I shared the news with Ron: GOD SAID YES!
The story does not end here (more on that in future posts) but through it all, God has shown Himself to be faithful. He is willing and able to guide His children and to speak to us. He is able to heal any wounds and give victory over any struggle. And He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.