I knew Mr. F was the one on our third date. Yup! I felt his quiet strength, complete presence---the kind that rattles you because he is so in the moment--his attentiveness, his delight over me, and "that thing." The special way two people begin their feeble steps in the dance of two souls starting to intertwine. He says we are like two puzzle pieces, but of course I have some flowery, metaphorical image to describe it ( :
He was so cute and kind and great, but what really got me was watching God reveal his intimate involvement along the way. On that third date, Mr. F revealed something very personal and risked intimacy with me. I was caught off guard by his courage but especially by the humility required to reveal a "weaker" part of himself. The early part of a relationship is usually when we humans like to put our best foot forward. After he shared, we began our walk to the sand.
Beloved, do you see what just happened?
My eyes welled and my heart shook.
For years Jesus tenderly held my hand asking me to risk vulnerability with various men.
Offer you. Be the beauty. Believe you're worth the pursuit. Trust me. Yes, here in the most tender of places, I have graces beyond measure.
And this time, on this day, with this man, a page was turned.
Offer Susie your weakness. Share your felt inadequacy.
He turned, he revealed, he risked vulnerability for the sake of Christ.
The kingdom of God among us! Man responding to God. Man taking God's hand and saying yes to what God wants and calls good, not what he wants. God taking his hand, gazing upon his son, "Well done good and faithful servant. You have chosen well."
Something in my heart settled into itself that day. Something in my heart united to Mr. F and united to God and said, "Yes, yes I will trust this man."
And the past 5 months, he has held out his hand again and again. "Children, come follow me!"
We've walked through emergency root canals, illness, unexpected meet ups, apartment moves, friendship struggles, all in the midst of creative dates, road trips, spontaneous dances, family meet ups, and friend hang outs. The sacred popping in all throughout the ordinary--Immanuel "God with us"--taking our hands and reminding us, "Yes, yes here--especially here--I am with you."
Last Saturday night, under the stars, on top of a bluff, looking out over the vast Pacific, a boy took a girl's hand and asked her to be his wife. A man looked in the eyes of a woman, bearing his weakness while trusting in the One who makes him strong, and humbly in his heart asked, "Will you trust me to care for you? Will you let me love you? Will you believe God is at work in me helping me to be the one at your side now and forever?"
I said Y E S!
There on the bluff that just two years earlier, unbeknownst to him, was the place Jesus took my hand and asked me to lay it all down. Lay down the image, lay down my lowly human image of love, and die to the life I imagined. "Beloved, greater love has no other than this than he who lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
I grabbed a dandelion, struggling for something to carry the symbol, throwing her over the bluff. Disillusioned, hurting, and weary...."Jesus, take it. It's yours. This hurts and everything is topsy, turvy upside down right now and I don't get that kind of love yet still. But I will die. Please, oh Jesus, please spring up life."
November twenty-third new l i f e sprung up abundantly! The dandelions are springing up in the land! "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:25)
Jesus whatever were gains to me---self sufficiency, independence, control, self righteousness--I now consider loss--total foolishness--compared to the sake of knowing you, being found in you, and sharing my life with you. More so, I consider everything less-than in comparison to the surpassing, vast, unbelievable value of knowing You, Jesus, my friend, Savior, companion, and Lord. It's just rubbish, less than, not enough compared to the beauty, majesty, and wonder that I gain in You. Letting go of of the try-hard life, and taking hold of faith in You--your righteousness that comes from God based on faith. Oh Jesus, I want to know you--yes, to know the power of your resurrection and participate in your suffering, becoming like you in death, and so, in that mysterious, otherworldly way, somehow to attain the resurrection from the dead--new life, new meaning, a new heart in you. (Philippians 3:7-12 my paraphrase)
And that my friends, is the blog post I have been waiting to write for a long, long time. My love story, but truly God's love story to us all. Whatever the means, whomever the set characters, wherever the setting, the choice is ours, His hand is extended, "Beloved, will you choose me?"