A friend’s love story

I think my favorite kind of story is a true-to-life love story. Movie love stories tend to just make me mad. Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand how real people experience love, affection, commitment, and sacrifice. But I love to hear a real person tell how he came to know and love God or how he met and married the love of his life. Bill (a.k.a. Theognome) shared both of his love stories in the comments section of Tuesday’s post. It’s wonderful. Go read it. (My comments have a limit on how long a single comment can be, so he had to break up his story over eight entries. My apologies.)

My favorite kind of love story is one in which a person’s heavenly and earthly love stories are bound up in one another. Rey (the driving force behind The Bible Archive) recently shared his with me, and gave me permission to share it with everyone. Here it is.

Letting go is hard.

I was eight when I saw the Exorcist. It made hell evident to me. At a prayer meeting, one of the brothers preached the gospel and it made sense: It was a way for me not to go to hell.

Then saved, I lived my life without making God my ruler. My focus was on doing what I wanted. I was saved, but my life was mine. I realize in retrospect that even when I prayed, I prayed selfishly. My prayers were about saving me from danger and for girls to like me. Thank God that He is merciful, and even in such prayers He listens, although He may say “wait.”

After some time, I wound up going to a Christian conference in Connecticut where the preacher connected the Word in ways which boggled my green mind. I knew I was saved and I knew I wasn’t dedicated. I spiritually bent down then and dedicated my life to Him. I went home and read the Bible in its entirety. I prayed, got baptized.

I backslid.

High school was filled with a constant struggle of fighting the Old Man in my spirit. I came to an understanding of Paul’s words: Those things I don’t want to do…those things I do! Doubt crept into my life and for a time I wanted to die. I thought the answer to “Who will deliver me from this body of death!” might’ve been myself.

It was one night at the edge of my bed that I broke down before God and realized that I thought I could be a believer without heavenly help. Somehow, I missed the point of being saved in the spirit. While studying the book of Galatians I fell in love with the thought that “I am crucified with Christ and yet I live, but it is not I but Christ who lives within me.”

I cried.

God is the one who justifies and he has declared me just in the cross of Christ. He will deliver me from this body of death. It had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Him.

Letting go is difficult. Even now I still hold on to aspects of my life and it pains me.

During my junior year of college I went on trip with my church to a camp where the Word was taught and preached in a way I had never known. Vibrant, pulsating, and powerful, it gave me a taste akin to that of small group studies and private time, but magnified. The people there were saturated in the scriptures, and the singing of hymns sounded like the heaven opened.

Jokingly, I threw my arms around a few girls asking them to go play volleyball. One of the girls was really cute but I had decided that I wasn’t going to be doing any chasing anymore. Plus this cute girl just kept reiterating her boyfriend’s name. These girls told me about working in the camp during the summer and about how washing the pots was fun.

I’ve done my share of pot-washing in another camp and I never heard it described as fun. I hated it and I hated how the camp managers would yell at us saying that “You’re working for the Lord! Is THIS how you work unto the Lord?”

I acquiesced that I would try to stay for the summer but I also warned that my parents were strict and that I haven’t gone to camp for more than two weeks since I was 14 because I had to work in the factory where my father worked. They told me that this camp pays, and though very low, it’s better than nothing.

I asked my parents and surprisingly enough, they said yes and drove me down a week later.

Away from the city, the noise, and my siblings, I studied. Man, how I studied. I loved it. I could read the Bible in the morning, run over to the kitchen to work, run over to the morning message, have a little free time and then get back to the Bible. All of this was interspersed with hanging out with those girls and some good guys I met there. I carried with me a black guitar re-made by some awesome college friends of mine. I called it the True-Dee after the people who handed it over to me.

Pot-washing WAS fun. It’s where I learned to sing while I work.

Those friends are still dear to me. I wrote letters to them all, and this continues even today. At the end of that summer, those dear friends purchased a guitar and gave it to me as a gift. I named it Summer.

For it was that summer that the love for my God grew. It was that summer that a young woman became a close friend, and years later wound up marrying me on those very same camp-grounds in August of 1999.

Laura, the cute girl who I played volleyball with, who convinced me to stay at the camp, has been my greatest help since our summertime conversations on everything from the stars to work in the church. In our relationship, love came softly, entering into marriage as a natural progression. It felt completely comfortable. We’ve been married going on five years, have a child and we can still laugh like idiots at two a.m. about something or other.

God answers prayers in amazing ways, and in my case, usually after letting go.

By the way, if anyone wants to share their own love story, please e-mail it to me. Like I said, it’s my favorite kind of story.

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