A Love that Lasts

This past week my friend Meghan Weyerbacher published her first book, a contemporary romance that tells the story of how love grows in the heart. It’s available by clicking here to go to Amazon, or you can copy the link in the photo below to go to Meghan’s landing page on her blog. Meghan manages to draw the reader in with humor and a great story-line, and then leads your heart to look at deeper issues. If you are a fan of a good, clean contemporary romance, I would encourage you to read this book. You will not be disappointed. I was so glad to be included in her launch team!

 

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Since the launch day for her novel came only days before my 40th Wedding Anniversary, my mind set to remembering the ways that God caused the love to grow between my husband and myself. . . .

 

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Last week we drove past the church and these oak trees, under which we met each other, more than 41 years ago. My youth group had gathered outside in the fresh spring air for our weekly Bible Study, when a new face walked up to join the group. I was only barely interested that night, since I had a huge History Final the next day, and I had brought my notes along to study in the spare moments.  But as the heart of this “new boy” kept asking questions, and obviously was hungry to know more about Jesus and the Bible, my curiosity became piqued.  This was not the normal jaded church-boy that I had grown up with.

 

As we found ourselves being placed on the same committees, and serving together in the same outreach activities, a friendship began to grow. My heart had become snagged before I knew what was happening. But when he took me aside to explain how God had called him to a life of singleness, and he was so excited to live wholeheartedly for the Lord, I was even more attracted to his commitment to the Lord. Then he said, “I understand if you can’t keep meeting with me, but I sure hope that we can still be friends. I have really appreciated our study and prayer times together.”

 

Yes, you read that right, our basis for getting together was so that we could study and pray–not the normal teenage activities. 🙂  I paused before I answered him. I knew that my heart was already attached, and I wanted to say, “No, I can’t keep meeting with you, it’s much too hard on my heart.” But the words that came out were “I will be the friend to you that God wants me to be.”

 

God opened the floodgates before us over the next few months, and showed us the depth of what my husband’s first test as a new believer really meant. He plunged the heart of this church-girl into the deep places of trusting God like never before, and He revealed the beauty of how He sometimes saves the best gifts for those who are willing to lay everything before His feet.

 

A little more than a year after we met, we were standing at the altar of that same church, surrounded by dear friends, as the Lord joined us together.

 

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Memories of that day were stirred up even more deeply last week as we gathered around the hospice bed of our Best Man. As we retold the stories of years ago with his family, I found my heart asking God,

 

So, I know how the love began, but how did You cause the love to last, Lord?

 

The love was a seed planted by God, watered and nurtured by His Word. It was based in the answer that He set in my lips that night so many years ago:

 

I will be the friend to you that God wants me to be.

 

Before my husband came to the Lord, he would never have given me a second look, because he thought I was not his type. It took many years for me to find the healing needed for the hurt of knowing that. But in those waiting years, God had been saving our hearts for each other, knowing the friendship that would blossom because of the Love of God set in our hearts. And it is that same kind of friendship that our Lord has caused to grow in each one of our hearts, for those who are called by Him:

 

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:15 NIV

 

As I stood in our motel room last week, looking back over the years, I heard the Lord’s sweet whisper to me:

 

Because you waited for my choosing, because you trusted in My plans, I gave my gift of love to you.

 

What had been a time of wondering and questioning became a time of rejoicing, even as a friend we both loved stood at the door of eternity. He was going to meet the best friend of all. Every friendship granted here on this earth is only a shadow of the deepest friendship we could ever imagine.

 

The love that lasts? It’s the gift of friendship planted in the hearts of those to whom God longs to show HIMSELF.

 

We think that we aren’t worthy of friendship with God. And we’re not, except that Jesus came to make us worthy. While we weren’t giving God a second look, He sent His Son to die for us so that we could be friends with Him. He longs to be that best friend with each of us.

 

He looks into our weaknesses, and longs to carry us to His heart. He sees the shame we feel, and longs to wash it all away. He sees the wounds of being passed over, not chosen, and says that He has always chosen us. He sees only perfect love, the perfect gift of a true friend.

 

You did not choose me, but I chose you . . . “

John 15:16 NIV

 

 

 

 

I am linking with:

#LMMLinkup

#Teaandword

#Tellhisstory

#Tuneinthursday

36 thoughts on “A Love that Lasts

    1. I am so thankful you were blessed here by God’s great story. His ways to bring us to love are truly so different than ours! But they are the best! I’m always so happy to have you visiting here, Melissa. Blessings to you!

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  1. Bettie, I am so thankful for your post for several reasons. First, because it points to the Lord and his leading. He cares about each of us, and about every area of our lives.

    Secondly, I enjoy hearing about the Lord’s leading in your life. What a lovely romance!

    It also brought back beautiful memories of my first husband’s entrance into God’s kingdom. We often told people that we met in jail. I suspect we were actually right outside the jail building. At least we were the first time we talked.

    We were both deputies. Jim was assigned to the jail and I was a dispatcher.

    Jim started talking to me one night, and my first assumption was that he was probably married. All of the other deputies were. Eventually, he was able to gently explain to me that he wasn’t. I had to hear it from him twice. We talked about the Sunday school class that he taught.

    I was thrilled that I had just met a man who appeared to be a single Christian, and we worked together.
    We went to Jackson on Jim’s Harley to check on a college course I was going to take. What fun!

    Then we went to the International Sunday School convention together in Detroit. Next, we worshipped together at his church. Then I invited him to mine.

    I knew our friendship was moving quickly, and he was about to pop the question, but I wasn’t convinced of his salvation because I hadn’t yet heard his testimony. My mother had warned me many times about the importance of only marrying a Christian. Her mother had thought she was doing so and found out after their marriage that Grandpa wasn’t a born again. Mom had drilled into my heart that hearing a guy say they are a Christian is not enough.

    So, I was cautious; and I prayed about the matter a lot. Grandma had asked Grandpa if he was a Christian, and he said yes. I wasn’t going to ask. I was going to watch for evidence.

    One evening when we got off work, Jim said he wanted to ask me a question. So I beat him to the topic. I told him about my grandmother, and my stand to only marry someone who knew the Lord. I didn’t yet mention that I wasn’t sure of his salvation since I hadn’t heard his testimony. I sure liked what I had seen in his life, but God had not given me peace.

    When I explained to him how important walking together in the Spirit was to me, Jim said that made him sad because he had never accepted the Lord and he wanted to marry me. He said his parents made such a marriage work.

    I told him that I would have a Christian marriage or none at all.

    I was ready to tell him right then that I could never see him again. I knew the danger of continuing such a growing friendship. But, the Holy Spirit stopped me. I had a responsibility to make sure Jim at least heard the plan of Salvation one more time before ending it.

    So I invited him to go to church with me that Sunday. I knew he had been there before and didn’t respond to the Gospel, but I would give him another chance. We went. An invitation was given, and Jim appeared to be under conviction, but he didn’t go forward.

    Again, I wanted to break it off before my heart became too involved, but the Holy Spirit urged me to give Jim another chance. Jim was showing evidence of being under conviction.

    So I again invited Jim to go to the service the next Sunday. Jim went, but nothing appeared to come of it. That was it.

    I knew I had to tell him we had no future. I couldn’t continue on. Emotionally it was too difficult. My love for him was growing.

    We got off work one night at midnight, and Jim suggested we go for a ride. I knew it was time to end it. So I agreed.
    He took me to a lovely lake and stopped the car and proposed.

    I explained to him again that I could never marry someone who had not given his heart to the Lord.

    Immediately Jim’s focus was on the Lord. He said, “I don’t know why I haven’t accepted Jesus. I know I need to. My mother wants me to do that. I don’t know why I haven’t!”

    I thought, “This man is ready to accept the Lord. What am I going to do?”

    I had plenty of training in how to lead someone to the Lord, and I was breaking every rule in the book. Here I was alone, in a lonely spot, with a man (and in the dark!). I didn’t even have a Bible with me.

    It is better if men lead men and women lead women. Men may assent with their heads just to get the girl.
    My college instructor on evangelism had explained it well to our class.

    Always go by twos so you have a prayer partner.

    Oh, but I knew Jim was getting close to accepting the Lord, and I was blowing all the guidelines I had been taught.

    However, there was hope. There were four Christian police officers who worked in a nearby town. I knew the odds were one of them was on duty now. We would go find him, and he could lead Jim to the Lord.

    Jim rejected the idea.

    I knew my dad would be asleep, but I also knew he would be willing to get out of bed if it meant leading someone to the Lord.

    Jim rejected the idea.

    I gave up. This guy was about to accept the Lord right then. A spiritual baby was about to be born, and I was the only nurse that was available. I had the responsibility to make sure the birth was a smooth one.

    I started at Romans 3:23. I recited the verses. Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9, 10… I went through the plan of Salvation. He agreed that he was a sinner and that Jesus had died on the cross for his sins.

    Jim sat there saying, “I know I should do it. I don’t know why I haven’t done this.”

    He couldn’t seem to get beyond that thought.

    I had presented the plan of salvation, and I didn’t know what to do next.

    I thought of our pastor. What would he do if he sensed someone was ready to come to the altar but was holding back?

    He would have us sing Just As I Am.

    So I sang. Verse one. Jim was still saying, “I know I should do it.”

    I sang verse two.

    I sang verse three.

    Verse four.

    Finally, after verse five, Jim was ready to pray the sinner’s prayer. Good thing! There are only five verses.

    After he prayed, Jim took me home. On the way, Jim rejoiced in his salvation, and he talked about how happy his mother was going to be; but he didn’t mention marriage again that night. All of his conversation centered on his new faith in Jesus.

    Dad woke up anyway. I went into my parents’ room. I had to tell them what had just happened. It was a wonderful time of rejoicing for the three of us.

    Jim grew quickly as a Christian. He and I did marry. Eventually, he became a leader in the church, a Sunday school teacher of the deaf and the teacher of the children’s Bible club that we held in our home. He was a deacon when the Lord took him Home on February 20, 1990.

    Then five years later I met and married Mike, making us cousins.

    Bettie, what wonderful, God-blessed memories this blog has brought to my mind. Thank you!

    And I’m so glad you told us about Meghan Weyerbacher’s book, Organic Love. I am definitely going to buy it.

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    1. Oh Linda, what a precious story! And aren’t we glad that our parents listened and accepted our words when we told them about our prayer nights with those guys? The night that Barry & I had to pray about his testing ground, and my surrender, began at 10 pm, and a call to our youth pastor, that ended with a midnight prayer session back at my house, while my Mom laid in bed praying. We just never know the effect that those prayers our parents are offering for us, until our own children need those same kinds of prayers from us! I am so thankful that the Lord stirred up those sweet memories for you Linda. What a gift the Lord gave to you, especially as your marriage with him was cut shorter than what you would have envisioned. His heart is with Jesus now because you were willing to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leading! Hugs & Love to you my Sweet Cousin/Sister!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing how the LORD has guided you both and of the healing He has brought you too, Bettie. I can’t imagine how hard that waiting time must have been.

    Your story brings back memories of my Mum’s prayers for my future marriage. She prayed that God would gift me someone who truly loved me (after I broke it off with someone who said he didn’t: it broke my heart then, but I am so thankful now).

    God’s fingerprints are truly all over our stories, when we stop to remember and reflect. Thank you for doing so and encouraging us all to also.

    Looking forward to reading Meg’s book soon. Thanks for sharing about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anna, I know what you are saying. Our praying mothers are such a blessing. If we have never had a praying mom, we can ask the Lord to give us someone to fill in that position for us.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh Anna, what a treasure the Lord gave you in your dear Mum’s prayers. Such deep love that has been showered over you, through all the hard times, because of God’s gift. He truly sees ahead of time what is best for us, and will watch over that gift until the time is right. I am so thankful that His Spirit keeps us firm when we don’t think we can wait any longer. He is so persistent in us, isn’t He? He is so worth it all! The song playing in the background just now is, “I’ve counted up the cost, Jesus you are so worth it.” Love & Hugs my dear friend!

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    1. I am so thankful that Jesus’ love shone through as you read here today. His love story is really the best, isn’t it? That He would love us and then share that love with us is such a gift. Blessings to you dear friend!

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  3. Bettie,
    Thank you for sharing, this was such a blessing to me.
    The song is so beautiful and just what I need so early this morning as I wasn’t able to sleep.
    Blessings, my sister in Christ.
    Love you
    Delores

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Delores, I am so thankful that Jesus blessed you here today. That song is such a gift isn’t it? He loves us so deeply and wants to bring such a deep friendship to us. Love you dear sister!

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  4. Dearest Bettie, I got goose bumps as I read your beautiful story the Lord wrote for you and your husband. Yes, I agree there is friendship available with Jesus and oh so much more. May He continue to bless your writing and your coming book!!!!!!

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    1. Dear Julie, I am so thankful for all of your sweet words and encouragements! Isn’t our Lord so good to write our stories, and then to weave us alongside and with the stories of His children? What a blessing to be counted as HIS friend, and then the friends of all of His friends within His Body! I am so glad that He has connected us here through these digital airwaves. Love and Hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dearest Bettie, the awe, joy and wonder of how you and your husband were led toward one another and came together in marriage is so beautiful! A real holy romance, orchestrated by our closest Friend of all, the Lover of our souls. Friendship is a good starting point in marriage and vital as years go by. It’s particularly important on days when loving can feel impossible because they (or us?) are being impossible! I also love the song you’ve shared. It spoke to me so much of God’s continual desire to be with us and our inner longings to be closer to Him too. May God continue to pour out blessing upon blessing on you both and give you His sustaining grace and joy as you share your life and faith together. xo ❤

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    1. Dear Joy, Yes, it is just so precious to look back at all the ways that God has led us here. It was truly His “holy romance,” as you have so beautifully spoken it. And, in that remembering it certainly does bring encouragement on those hard days–so many that have felt impossible. But yes, it is HIS loving that brings us back to that solid base of friendship in Him. I’m so glad that the song spoke to you also. It really is such a gift isn’t it? I have listened to it again and again, each time feeling His voice calling out to me to let Him be closer, even in the suffering days. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and prayers Dear Friend. They have meant so much to me! Love and Hugs! xoxo

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  6. Congratulations on your anniversary, Bettie! Thank you for sharing how God led you and worked His love and grace in your marriage. Beautiful! I’m so glad He chose us. This truth gives me special comfort – “He sees the wounds of being passed over, not chosen, and says that He has always chosen us. He sees only perfect love, the perfect gift of a true friend.” Thank you! Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Dear Trudy! I’m so glad that Jesus has come to bring us to the Father’s heart, and to find true friendship. It is such a blessing for us! And I am so thankful that you were blessed by that thought of His choosing us. It is a statement that the Lord is continuing even this week, to bring to a deeper place in my own heart. He knows us so well, and how to speak to those aching places within us! Love and Hugs to you! xoxo

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  7. Dear, sweet friend! What a beautiful love story God is blessing you to live out! I loved seeing the photo of your wedding and reading of how God brought the two of you together and has blessed your union all these years. It is hard to believe how quickly life flies by. May He bless you with many, many more happy and healthy years together!

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    1. Dear Cheryl, thank you so much for your sweet thoughts & love! Yes, God surely is the best story creator! Time really does fly by so quickly, it is so good to pause and look back now & then to see God’s faithfulness over the years. May you be blessed in all of your memories as well, Dear Friend! Love and hugs to you!

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  8. BettieG – I love this post for 2 reasons. I Happy ANniversary and praise God He showed you and your now husband the plans He had to have a lasting love and the other reason why I love your post… Is because you shared about Meg’s book and enjoyed it as much as I did. I am sharing my review and an interview with Meg on Thursday at my linkup. WOW I just loved reading your love story- thank you for sharing… oh and by the way – you are way braver than I would have been .. and trusting God – I am not sure I could have just said yes to being ‘friends’ .. But God knew what He was doing when he allowed you to say yes. 🙂 HUGS and blessings as you celebrate your love story – a love that lasts.

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    1. Dear Debbie, Yes, we are both so proud and grateful for our friend Meg’s book! God is so good, in the ways that He helps us to complete what He’s given to us. And, He is the one that gave me the courage to speak those words–afterwards I thought I was crazy! 🙂 Only God brought us through. Praise Him for His faithful love for us over all these years. I am heading over to your site for your interview with Meg soon. Can’t wait to hear about it! Hugs and Blessings to you!

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  9. Oh what a beautiful love story, Bettie. As I write this note, I have the song on and it is so fine! I cranked it up a bit more too. Now I am thinking about my Kenneth and our sweet love story and my/our love story with Christ. So beautiful and special. I am so in love with the One Who came to save me. Thank you for your words. They bless me.

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    1. Dear Linda, I had you in my thoughts this week, as I know that Jesus has been so close to you through these days of losing your best earthly friend. How thankful I am that we will never lose our Dear Jesus, the best friend of all. You are a blessing to me also, as I see the ways that our Lord is being so close to you. You remain in my prayers, sweet friend. Love and Hugs to you!

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  10. “I will be the friend to you that God wants me to be.” Oh my. Can I borrow this line Bettie? 🙂 That’s if God calls me to use it too! That’s the kind of friend I want to be for all. I’ve been divorced for 21 years and single is my status and may be for the rest of my life or may not be (although at 53 I’m thinking that time may have passed :)) . Regardless, I want to be a woman of God and a godly friend too! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lynn,
      Oh, yes, you are welcome to use those words! 🙂 But I had no courage of my own to use them, it was only God’s grace that put them within my mouth to speak. Truly He does know the path ahead that He has chosen for us. Your own words have blessed me so often, Lynn. You are a woman of God to all who read your words. Thank you so much for sharing your heart! Blessings and Love to you!

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