At the beginning of September I still had no clear direction from the Lord as to whether Barbara was the woman for me to marry. One concern I had was that this relationship would negatively affect my walk with the Lord. I wanted my undiluted delight to be in Him in line with Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
A good pastor friend, Harold Carpenter, would come by a couple of times a month to chat with me while I worked. He talked out his problems and listened to mine. When I mentioned to him my prayers for guidance concerning Barbara, and my thoughts about delighting in the Lord, he was used by the Holy Spirit to give me the key to my dilemma.
“This verse says we are to delight in Him, and I see that’s what you are doing and want to do.” He paused. “It also says that if you do that, He will give you the desires of your heart. There are actually two meanings to that. First, He will put proper desires into your heart as you find your delight in Him. And second, He will fulfill them. Since you are delighting in Him, He knows that the desire won’t become your idol. Just keep on delighting in Him.”
The lights suddenly came on for me. Of course, Barbara was the fulfillment of my desire for a godly wife, for a partner in ministry. We were well matched in our love for Jesus, in our desire to serve and in our present level of spiritual growth. Of course she’s the right one! Dad and Mom think so. Pastor Carpenter thinks so. My siblings think so.
The one remaining obstacle in my mind was the age difference. Then the Lord brought to mind a conversation I’d had with Doug, the nurse in the village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. He had fallen in love with the secretary at the Christian radio station in Nome, and they’d gotten engaged.
One night they were sitting in her living room with the lights off, enjoying the beauty of the Arctic moonlight coming through the skylight when she asked him, “How old are you?”
“I’m 24,” he said. “and you?”
“I’m 29,” she said. That was followed by a long silence. Then she spoke up. “Well, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Doug said, “Well, then, I guess it isn’t that important.”
Later he told me that his mother was thrilled that he was marrying an older woman. “You get a mature partner instead of someone you have to bring up to speed,” she said.
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “that makes sense. We can be better partners in the ministry. And that’s the real reason to get married, because we can serve God better together than we can singly.” I had certainly seen that in our work with the youth group.
I couldn’t wait until that evening when Barbara came. We went for a walk, and I said, “We’re getting married!”
“Ok,” she said. She was a little taken aback but didn’t show it. She was ahead of me on this anyway, since the Lord had prepared her by telling her that I was the man He had for her. So she was ready to accept my “proposal.”
I suggested that we get married around Christmas, but that was way too fast for Barbara. Germans don’t move that quickly! So we agreed on taking a trip to Germany at Christmas to meet Barbara’s parents and to get officially engaged there.
Picture: Barbara’s mother and father