In the Random Dozen on Wednesday I posted my senior picture and mentioned that my boyfriend had purchased the outfit I wore. I was surprised that tidbit of information sparked interest, but I thought today I'd share the "back story." I have a feeling you'll enjoy that even more. It's a little long, but stay with me. I think you'll be glad you did.
As a teenager my parents said that when I turned 16 yrs old I would be allowed to date. I was generally boy crazy most of my life and was looking forward to going out on actual dates.
As a young girl I had given my heart to Jesus and grew in faith and understanding. Although I was excited about dating I truly ONLY wanted to date who the Lord would choose for me so I began praying regularly at the age of fifteen, several months before my 16th birthday, for the Lord to reveal His choice for me. Innocently I probably thought He would reveal someone around the time of my birthday - what a nifty present a "knight" would be, but the Lord began teaching me early to wait for HIS timing. (Remember these are the musings of a self-absorbed teenager!) My March birthday came and went. I prayed a little more fervently. (smile!)
In late July I went to a youth conference several hours away from home. It was a multi-day event sponsored by a Christian college. I did NOT have the dating prayer request on my mind because all the boys from my church who went to the conference had already been brought before the Lord and found wanting. (Oh, this is so revealing-what an attitude I had!)
There was a young man from our home church who had graduated with a undergrad degree and a Master's degree and was working at the college. Kenny had come to our church on a bus route as a young boy and was the only believer in his family. Our senior pastor had taken him under wing and he had flourished. Kenny usually found our high school group each year at the conference and would act as host - giving us good intel on how to beat the long lines, where to get fast food, etc. We all enjoyed his humor and company. This year, however, he did not find us right away.
Late into day two in the middle of a sermon as I was sitting in the balcony I looked down upon the crowd and saw Kenny sitting with another group. Immediately I felt the Lord impress upon me that Kenny was the person I was to date. "What? That didn't make any sense, Lord! He's a MAN!" I tried to dismiss the thought. Nah! That's crazy thinking, girl!
Following the message Kenny found his way up to our group in the balcony and apologized for getting to us so late in the conference. He had been tasked to host another group, but wanted to check in on us. My heart was pounding and I just kept looking at him and thinking, "There is NO WAY this is the answer." Throughout the rest of the conference Kenny did not make it back to our group, but I did see him off and on throughout the building and each time the Lord was telling me, "It's HIM!" By the time I got home, my head was spinning.
After the conference our bus pulled into the church parking lot back home and inside the secretary's office we lined up to use the telephone to call our parents to come pick us up. After my call I had to wait for my parents to arrive. I noticed the light was shining under the door of our senior pastor's office. He was studying for the next day's sermons. I knocked quietly on the door and asked to speak with him. He welcomed me in and I began sobbing and telling him about my prayer request and that I thought the Lord was telling me that Kenny was the guy I was supposed to date. (Poor man!) He settled me down and then assured me that a MAN was probably NOT the answer to my request. I listened quietly, sensing in my heart that this answer, if it was from the Lord, was so unusual that God would have to do it, because it wouldn't make ANY sense on the human level.
I arrived home well past midnight and told my mom all that had transpired. If there was ever a moment of Godly wisdom (and she's had a lot of them, but this one was a biggie) Mom said, "Well, ok then, we need to continue praying about it - just you and I. Let's not tell anyone else because it doesn't make a lot of sense right now." She didn't shoot me down or discount my thoughts; she just said, "Let's keep praying." That's all I needed.
Fast forward...in September my family hosted a Labor Day picnic at my home. We had at least 50 people on our property and Kenny, whose family lived about 6 houses away, had been invited, as usual. I IGNORED him. I was so afraid of my feelings/thoughts that I steered clear away! I think he tried to speak to me once and I answered abruptly, then made a beeline for anywhere else. I was afraid he would somehow sense something and I just didn't know how to deal with the emotions of what the Lord seemed to be saying. I was not polite.
Fast forward again...a Saturday in mid-October I was traveling with my high school's marching band for a state-wide competition. We left early in the morning and wouldn't be returning until late into the night. Unbeknown to me, Kenny had phoned my parents earlier in the week mentioning that he would be home for the weekend and asked if he could take them to dinner on that night. My mom, sensing the Lord's movement, said that I would be out-of-town and he could come to our home for dinner. She did not reveal the phone call or plan to me. Then it was time for Mom to let Dad in on what had been transpiring. I assume he was a little surprised!
Kenny came for dinner that evening and said that while he was at our picnic in September he felt like the Lord was telling him, "to ask Angie out." He argued with the Lord making note that she was still a MINOR and in high school, but he couldn't get the thought out of his mind. He then mentioned, "It wasn't anything that she did that day. As a matter of fact, she actually seemed to be avoiding me, like she was angry or something." My parents asked a few more questions and then revealed to him my prayer request and answer in July. They were all stunned to see how the Lord had unveiled His plan for a 25 yr old man and a 16 yr old girl to date.
My parents gave Kenny stipulations: he could only come home once a month to date me, I was allowed to date other people and they encouraged him to do so, as well, AND if he touched me he was dead! (or prosecuted or both.) They then agreed that he should ask me to lunch after the Sunday service the next day to tell me how the Lord had moved him to ask me out.
That he did. We went to Long John Silver's for lunch. There were a few nerves, but the peace that passed all understanding was clearly evident in my heart. God had answered in a way that was unmistakeably Him. How I would need this example to rely on later in life!
I'll tell you the story of the outfit in part 2.