Hey, and howdy to all you faithful blog followers. I decided it was time to sit down and write down a few thoughts from "My" perspective, especially after Anne left you with that last cliff-hanger of a post.;-) Well, here goes nothing...
As I see it, the story starts back in 2006, when I moved from TX to PA to attend the Bible Institute at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. Everything was new, exiting, and somewhat intimidating. I had just come from a small mission work in TX, with 3 families and a monthly visitor. Suddenly, I was whisked into the midst of a 300 member church with enough people and programs to boggle my mind. As I poured myself into my Bible Institute studies, I was determined not to let anything shake me from my goal of preparation for the mission field.
Anne was one of the first people I met at church, but I was careful not to add any significance to that fact. I remember her as a quiet and pretty girl at the front desk. She had a joyful and sincere personality that I was naturally attracted to, so I made sure that I didn’t spend any more time in the office than was necessary. =) Hey, I wasn’t there to get married, I was there to study! I have to say though, that I logged quite a few mental notes from that time period. One of those memories was reading her personal testimony tract and learning that we shared the same birthday. That was an interesting fact, but no big deal; especially since she was 5 years younger than I was. I determined to stab any fanciful thoughts about Anne and get back to work. I know now that if I had spent some time getting to know Anne at the beginning, that I would have found many common interests and pursuits. But alas, that was not to be, for the Lord had some stretching and pruning to accomplish in my life.
The next few years included some of the greatest highs and deepest lows of my life. God used a Chinese Bible study and some close friendships to challenge me to become more active in discipleship. Out of this time grew a relationship with a young lady that I had grown to admire. Her brother and I were good friends and I greatly respected her ability to connect with the Chinese students and point them to Jesus Christ. It was right around that time that I felt that God would have me pray specifically for a wife, and it seemed that God had brought our paths together at just the right time. To make a long story short, things didn’t work out as I had planned. Shortly after engagement, our relationship fell apart. The more I struggled to put the pieces back together the more confusing and complex things seemed to become. Eventually the wedding was called off and it became obvious that we were both heading in different directions. I was devastated and poured out my broken heart to the Lord. It seemed that all my plans had gone up in smoke, and I was left with a pile of ashes and more questions than I could count.
It was in Mexico, that God began to heal my heart. My good friend, Milton Martin, invited me to get away and travel with him to Chiapas, Mexico. I gladly accepted and was grateful for the opportunity to get alone with the Lord, in a distant land. I was attending a Bible conference at Chilon and had some extra hours in the afternoon to read and wait before the Lord in prayer. I had brought along a copy of,"The Making of a Man of God," by Alan Redpath, and the Holy Spirit used David's desire to build the temple as a reminder that his purposes are so much bigger than my limited plans. I remember pouring out all my desires and plans to the Lord, determining that if I never was able to have a family or make it to the mission field, I could invest myself in the lives of others. I determined to be an instrument of blessing to other missionaries over that next year, and God gave me such a peace in joy in serving him with my whole heart.
And here I have to clarify that God had placed a specific desire and focus for Thailand on my heart back in 2004. Since that time, I couldn't shake the fact that God wanted me be involved in discipleship and church planting in that strategic region of SE Asia. I had been able to visit several times, to help other missionaries, but yet the Lord had revealed that he wanted me to train and go back as an independent family, and not simply as a helper. I hadn't a clue how that was ever going to work out, after the mess I had created, but I decided to just "go back to sleep" and place that problem back in the Lord's hands.
It was around that time that Anne came back from her first trip to Thailand and I realized for the first time how much I respected her friendship. I remember logging a few more mental notes at this time, but I was seriously not interested in starting any new relationship. In fact, I remember stating that fact clearly to a few well-meaning friends that mentioned the obvious fact that since I was heading to Thailand and Anne had been to Thailand, that we would make a perfect couple. =) Nope, nice try. I was not about to be swayed by circumstances. In my mind, God had not opened that door, and I was not about to test the handle until He revealed that himself. Besides, I was actually enjoying the busyness of the year, and the opportunities for evangelism were exploding all around me. As I saw it, this was not a time for marriage. It was a time to work.
So, what opened my eyes? That is the question of the hour. It wasn't long before Anne was back in Thailand and I was busy about my duties. Would we ever connect? Would Nat ever realize that something had "clicked" on the High school field trip in 2008? Would Anne's patience wear out before the answer came? Tune in next time to hear the answer to these questions and more. Until then, I must recharge and get ready for another full day. =)