My 28th wedding anniversary is today (Nov 19, 2016), and I can still remember how awkwardly the proposal played out to my soon-to-be wife Dawn.
I was a youth pastor with a group of 80 teenagers on a mission trip to New Orleans. My intended fiancé grew up in the suburbs there, so I thought it would be perfect to propose to her in the French Quarter. I had the ring and a classy Italian restaurant on the top floor of a swanky downtown mall to do the deed – all I needed now was some privacy.
Easier said than done.
I told all my adult counselors to cover for me over the next two hours, but the problem was the “awkward kids” from the group who were stalking me. Those were the geeks who basically had no friends. I could relate, since I was one of their tribe during my teenage years. But when no one else would hang out with them, the youth pastor became their “buddy” by default.
When you’re a geeky church kid, in your eyes the youth pastor is paid to be your best friend!
The geekiest kid of all was one I’ll refer to here as Joe Bob (names have been changed to protect the geekiest). And Joe Bob had become attached to me like a barnacle on the side of a ship in the port of New Orleans. Every time I tried to slip away with Dawn, up popped Joe Bob with an ear-splitting “Hiiiiiii, Pasturrrr Daaaaaaave (hand waving at me wildly over his head like a flag in a hurricane)!”
Finally, Dawn and I gave him the slip. We snuck up to our expensive lunch, complete with panoramic view of the New Orleans harbor. After finishing our lunch, I pulled out the ring. Tears proceeded, along with the word I longed to hear: “Yes”! When the waiter realized what was happening, the restaurant joined in the celebration.
It was perfect…until I heard this noise piercing the air all the way from the front section of the restaurant:
“Hiiiiiii, Pasturrrr Daaaaaaave (hand waving now up to Category 5 wind strength)!“
Joe Bob had found us, and inserted himself into our picture-perfect moment. It was then I realized a terrible truth – I would now have to remember Joe Bob and his abrupt interruption for the rest of my life! He had indelibly etched himself into the “family album” of one of the most important, intimate moments with my future wife! I would never be able to remember the thrill of my engagement and “popping the question” without thinking of Joe Bob, hand waving wildly as his pubescent voice cracked over top of veal parmigiana, champagne glasses, and startled waiters.
YES AND AMEN
I often have people tell me how they wish they were closer to God. Most of them truly desire the love, joy, and peace promised by the Christian life. But I’ve noticed a huge disconnect between their intentions and what they actually do.
Some who say they want to come to church never do. Many who long for a deeper relationship with God continue to wander on the outskirts of Christianity, looking through the front window with wistful eyes.
The sad thing about this is that God has already “proposed” to them. He’s already made the first overtures toward a love relationship with us.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:20).
So basically God has already said yes to us, but we have to respond with an ‘Amen’. That is a Hebrew word that normally ends our prayers, and it means “so be it”. And that agreement by us in response to God’s yes is what is missing from most people’s lives.
You see, to access all the blessings God wants for us, you must also “say yes” to Him. Very simply, that means if you want to be blessed financially, you need to be financially responsible and honor God in those finances. If you want your kids to grow up loving God, you have to raise them in agreement with Biblical principles. For your marriage to be blessed, you must agree with God’s plan for what your marriage should be.
Without that “amen” in the areas of our lives, all our talk about following God is just that – talk. It’s as if I asked Dawn to marry me that day, she said yes, but then proceeded to go out with all the other eligible men at the church (luckily, none were as handsome as me…or as modest either). Her mouth may have said “yes”, but her life would have still been playing the field.
SHOULDA COULDA WOULDA
I know there are probably a myriad of reasons you have for not putting God first in your life right now. You’re too busy to be involved in church, reading the Bible bores you, someone at church was rude to you, the dog ate your homework, the sun was in your eyes, etc. But the honest truth is you will prioritize what’s truly important to you. And only when we put God first will He respond to us – He has too much self respect to accept us “playing the field”.
However, when the bottom drops out of life, when we feel purposeless and disconnected from eternity, those excuses won’t matter. We will have missed out on the most life-changing relationship with the most wonderful “suitor” in the universe, along with all the associated perks (blessings). And in the end, we have only ourselves to blame.
The good news is God has already said “yes” to you. He loves you and desires a daily relationship with you even more than you do. Right now, He is on one knee and holding out the ring for you. What will be your answer?
Best of all, if you answer yes, I can promise you Joe Bob will be nowhere near to ruin the moment!