The Tug of Egypt

TheTugOfEgypt

As I read through Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus in my daily devotions, I am again drawn to the lessons God has for us in all the books of the Old Testament. I understand that:

  1. The Old Testament is God’s Story to show us our need for Him.
  2. The Old Testament shows us our sin state.
  3. Egypt is a picture of sin.
  4. Joseph is a prototype of Jesus.
  5. God wants to show us that, without His intervention, we could not, would not leave Egypt/sin.

Questions arise as I read:

  • If Joseph is a prototype of Jesus, why did God use Joseph to invite his family to Egypt? I don’t think Jesus invites us to sin.
  • After Jacob and all the Israelites moved to Egypt, life was good. But then a new Egyptian ruler came to power. The Egyptians slowly but surely put the Israelites under subjection and forced them into slavery. Why didn’t the Israelites escape while they could, and go back to their homeland? Why didn’t even a few families decide that they should return to Canaan instead of staying in Egypt?
  • After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and all the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes the power and magnitude of God, why, when any little problem popped up, did they cry to return to Egypt?
  • What is God’s lesson to me when the spies went into the Promised Land? Only two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) gave a favorable report and encouraged them to go because God would be with them. And all the people sided with the scared reports; they spoke of selecting a captain to lead them back to Egypt (Numbers 14.4).

As I prayed and continued reading, God brought these lessons to me:

Jesus doesn’t invite us to live in sin. He goes before us, to prepare the land so that we may live there in God’s grace. God knows we choose sin (Genesis 6.5), and that we will be enticed into more sin, and that we will want to stay there. As Joseph was placed in Egypt to prepare for the Israelites to live there, Jesus came to Earth to live in our sin with us, to show us how to live and give us hope; and, ultimately, to show us that there is a way out if we obey Him.

The Israelites did not escape from Egypt while they could. It is the same with us and sin. We are enticed to live in sin. It looks good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Life was good in Egypt. Jacob and his sons, the first generation of Israelites who lived in Egypt, established a home there. They had children who grew up there and had children and grandchildren of their own. They considered Egypt their homeland. The new pharaoh began putting stiffer and stiffer burdens on them. Still they did not leave.

Look at the Jewish people in Germany and surrounding countries in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. They did not try to escape their homes, even after they were required to wear the Star of David. They couldn’t imagine the evil to come until it was too late.

Look at the Jews exiled in Babylon. Even after they were allowed to return to their homeland, many stayed in Babylon.

Look at America. We live in a sinful culture. We are sucked into it: television shows we shouldn’t watch; products we shouldn’t buy but we do because we’re enticed by the ads and we believe they’ll make our lives better somehow; clothing we wear or allow our children to wear; jobs we take; music we listen to; movies we watch; ministries we assume without consulting God; friends with whom we associate and how we associate with them; Internet sites we visit, and amount of time online, both of which detract from our walk with God; words we use or continue to listen to that do not glorify God. These are every day sins we don’t even think about because they are an integral part of our lives, and EVERYBODY DOES IT. We are using our families and friends and neighbors and media as our plumb line, instead of God.

Is there any escaping this? To where do we flee? We haven’t a “homeland” as the Israelites did, no physical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. My heritage is Irish and Czech, among others; am I supposed to try to go back to one of those countries, to live with “my people?” I was born an American, and this is my home. Just like the children of Israel: they were born in Egypt, their families were born in Egypt, and that was their home. They became slaves to Egypt / slaves to sin in a subtle way, and then there they were, crying to God to save them. [I think, in America, many of us have not yet come to the point to realize that we must cry out to God to save us. We have it too good, and we don’t want to be saved.] [We, as Christians, do have a homeland, by the way: it is the Person of Jesus Christ, and God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We get to carry our homeland with us all the time, and go to it for all eternity.]

God allowed the children of Israel, living in Egypt, to come to the point of crying out to Him. He needed them to understand their need for Him, to know that they could not save themselves; but to know that they needed to be saved. [God still works the same way. He brings each of us to the point where we know we must cry out to Him, know He is the only One Who can save us because we are slaves to sin and cannot save ourselves.]

After God displayed His glory to Egypt and the Israelites, after He saved His people from bondage, after His people witnessed miracle after miracle, proving that God loved them and had in mind a beautiful life for them; after all that, when the Israelites faced hardships and seemingly insurmountable odds, they cried to return to Egypt. (Exodus 14.11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Numbers 14.1-3 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?)

In our own lives, we easily forget the power of God that saved us, and that same power that is still available to us. The lure of sin is strong. Sin is our comfort zone; it’s where we lived for a long time, and we had conditioned ourselves to arrange our lives around it and make do. This new life of blind obedience to God, depending on Him for our daily need is too scary. We can’t see what it will look like, so we go back to what we knew before. The Israelites could not see into a future with God, could not imagine His glory in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

As modern Christians, we are fortunate to have God’s Word at our fingertips. We are infinitely blessed to have God’s very Holy Spirit living within us! Even with what God has given us, it is a hard thing to live in day-to-day obedience to God and depend on His mercy and grace. It takes strength to step out in faith all the time, and to depend on God to provide whatever we are going to need. We can empathize with the Israelites in their desires to go back to what they knew.

[Sometimes it’s not we, ourselves, who are struggling with sin and the desire to return to it. Sometimes it’s a loved one. We can see it in someone else’s life. We must have compassion on those who struggle with sin. It is a strong force. Thanks be to God, He is stronger; but we must have patience, and pray for those who struggle.]

When the Israelites had finally reached their promised destination, when they were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land, when they had traveled in the wilderness for months, when they had lived day-by-day upon God’s provision of water and manna and protection, when they saw the gorgeous fruit of the land they could have; they gave up. The spies came back with a scary report, and everyone believed that the giants living there would swallow them up. They really thought that all this was for nothing, and they wanted to return to Egypt.

REALLY??? Well, yeah. It’s hard to believe that sin has such a strong a pull on us. Hard to believe unless you’re in the throes of temptation, yourself (or love someone who is). Whether it’s finances or sex or power or tobacco or alcohol or drugs or language or anger or fear or bitterness or food; we hear that siren call of sin – the one that’s personal to us. We’re ready to give up all the promises God gives us for the future, in order to have that one little taste again of the past.

If we want sin, God allows us to follow it.

FALL ON YOUR FACE BEFORE GOD, just as Moses and Aaron did so many times. Beg for mercy, beg for grace and forgiveness and strength and guidance. When faced with temptation, turn around and face God. Embrace Him instead of the sin. Ask Him. He’s there. He longs to jump in to save you from whatever it is.

But we must obey God.

Remember: God created the universe, and He created you. We live by His rules. [Also remember, His rules are for our good, and because He loves us.]

God is holy. He will not compromise; but He will forgive.

Read, ingest, swallow and digest God’s Word. He gives it to us for our good, because He loves us so much.

Read what God has to say. Learn His ways. Obey Him. God always blesses obedience.

Joseph so Blessed; Brothers Blessed-Anyway

JosephSoBlessed

Joseph, favored son of Jacob, had a hard life. His brothers were jealous of him and almost killed him. Instead, when he was 17, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. They thought they were done with him.

In Egypt, Joseph soon rose to the top of the totem pole in the house into which he was sold. God showed favor to Joseph, and the man of the house (Potiphar) trusted him with everything. Joseph must have been trustworthy, smart, kind, respectful, creative, and gracious. He must also have been good-looking, because the wife of the house lusted after him and did him wrong. Joseph refused the wife’s advances, the wife lied to her husband, and Potiphar had him thrown into prison.

As an aside, the verses dealing with this are Genesis 39.19, 20: And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. My personal perspective is that Potiphar’s wrath was kindled against his wife. I’m guessing that he knew his wife’s heart, but could not publicly cross her. I think he was intensely upset that his wife had messed up a very good thing.

As in Potiphar’s house, once Joseph was in prison, God showed favor to him, and Joseph rose to the top of that totem pole. Genesis 39.21 – 23: But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Keep in mind that there is no record of Joseph being whiney or disobedient, or of his giving up or being subversive. We can assume that Joseph was obedient in all he did, as evidenced in his dealings with the king’s cupbearer and baker (Genesis 40). Again, even though Joseph was obedient, the cupbearer forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained in prison for another season.

God caused Pharaoh to have dreams. Aha, says the cupbearer, I do remember my faults this day. And he led Pharaoh to call for Joseph to interpret the dreams. Joseph was candid about the interpretation of dreams being God’s hand, and was obedient to correctly divine the dreams. Pharaoh immediately discerned Joseph’s gifts, and promoted him to the top of Egypt’s totem pole, save only for Pharaoh himself. (Gotta wonder what Potiphar thought about that!)

The dreams foretold great abundance in the land for seven years, followed by seven years of great famine. Joseph arranged all so that Pharaoh prospered. And God arranged all so that His people prospered.

Meanwhile, back in Canaan, the brothers were miserable. They got rid of their insipid brother, but their father was suffering. There was no consoling Dad over the loss of his favorite son. Jacob’s only consolation was Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin, whom Jacob smothered with protection. The saving grace for the brothers was that they daily lived with the guilt of their actions, and were evidently repentant.

Came the time of dearth in Canaan, and the brothers had to go to Egypt to buy food, else they die.

Joseph put them through some pretty tough paces before he revealed himself to them. He had to make sure they repented, and that they had not been treating Benjamin poorly. Joseph was satisfied, and revealed himself to his brothers.

The brothers, of course, were aghast. They believed Joseph to be dead or a poor and harshly-treated slave. They could not have conceived that he would be second in power to Pharaoh. All Joseph’s long-ago dreams came true, and the brothers bowed down to him, along with their father.

Granted, there are numerous applications and lessons to be derived from God in Joseph’s life. Mine are this: obedience, and God’s blessings. Joseph saw that at once. Look at what he thought was most important for his brothers to know first, in Genesis 45.4, 5 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. Joseph’s understanding was that it was GOD who sent him into Egypt, so that Jacob’s family could thrive.

In all that happened to Joseph, he remained obedient to God. He did not fight against his slavery or imprisonment; he didn’t try to escape. He could have become disgruntled, he could have developed a lousy attitude toward God. It might have been easy to think, “Well, if this is how God treats His obedient children, then I want out.” Joseph could not have foreseen, any more than his brothers could have, the future that God had planned.

And Joseph and his brothers would never have seen that future had not Joseph remained obedient.

At any point, if Joseph had rebelled, he would have taken his own life on a different path. And God could not have blessed it. God does not bless disobedience, but He loves to bless obedience. Granted, God will still bless those who are disobedient: look at the brothers. They were disobedient, but they were God’s children, and God blesses His children. Look at the nation of Israel: they were continually disobedient, and God still blessed them, even though they didn’t appreciate it. Look at America: as a people, as a culture, we are in full-blown disobedience to God. But He hasn’t annihilated us, and we aren’t eating worms as we deserve.

But the blessings of obedience are different from the blessed-anyway blessings. Disobedient people receive the fringes of blessings, like the dog eating crumbs under the table. Obedience brings full-on blessings, like a father beaming proudly at His beloved children, feasting at the table; like those children knowing they are fully loved and appreciated and respected; and blessings like living in peace, knowing they are fully taken care of.

Please: be consistent and single-minded about obedience to God. Obedience puts you in the palm of God’s Hand. It brings you into His protection (even though it might not feel like it sometimes). Obedience positions you to receive God’s full-on blessings.

And one of the greatest blessings is simply knowing you are pleasing your Lord.

How many Christians today are walking around, just being blessed-anyway? Missing out on God’s greatest blessings that He wants to shower on us? Thinking we’re doing okay with our own plans, doing it our way? How many Christians believe their way looks like a better plan than whatever God has? Can’t we just wait and see what God has in mind?

Please: be patient. Fall on your faces before God and commit to obedience, no matter what everything around you looks like, no matter what other people are saying or what their faces look like. God’s opinion is the only one that matters. Eternity belongs to Him, after all. You’re not just living for what you can get right here and now. You are living for God, for eternity. And when you live for God, your right-now is protected and blessed. We cannot comprehend what God has in store for us; and we will never see it unless we are obedient.

Ephesians 3.20, 21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Holding it Together

HoldingItTogether

Do you feel sometimes that it’s getting too hard to hold it all together?

Let it go.

Yep, really. Let go. Take a deep breath. Talk to God. If you are stressed out about overload, you’ll need to have a deep conversation.

God is the One Who holds all things, and Who holds all things together.

Colossians 1.15 – 17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

These verses in Colossians remind us that

  1. Jesus is God
  2. all things were created by Him – ALL things, whether seen or unseen
  3. All things were created through Him and for Him
  4. He has gone before all things (He knows what’s going on and what’s going to happen, and how it all turns out)
  5. He is holding it all together.

Consider also Hebrews Chapter 4, that famous passage dealing with resting in God.

Hebrews 4.10, 11 For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.

God desires, invites, us to enter His rest. We do that by obedience.

And then there’s that fascinating passage tucked right in there:

Hebrews 4.12, 13 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God knows what obedience looks like, and He knows our hearts. Are you rushing around with a full plate, stuff spilling off in all directions? Are you feverishly covering that plate with all your might, trying to hold it all together? Are you trying to make that plate look pretty for anyone who is watching?

Drop the plate. Let God clean up that mess. Kneel down on the floor with Him as He goes through each spill. HE KNOWS YOUR HEART. He designed you. He knows what delights you, what stresses you out, where your comfort zone is, where you need to go to strengthen your heart, and He knows your limits.

Things might look like a mess as you sort all this out with God. People might see you. They might smirk, or offer to help, or look away, or give a hug. Other’s responses are not your territory. That’s between them and God.

Deal with God. Find out what He’d like to see on that plate. Find out how He’d like you to divvy up your time and energy. His wisdom includes being able to see the Big Picture. Ask God why you cherish the things on your plate. Did you think you were doing them all for Him? Psalm 37.4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. It’s true; it’s always been true. Find your delight in God. Ask God what delights you. He created you and knows you; He wants to delight you. Ask Him to help you delete those things that are not delightful, but that are hard to give up. [You can try to find out why you like to hold onto them if you want, but it’s not necessary.]

Study carefully those things that God wants on your plate. The Holy Spirit will fill you with energy and a desire to accomplish those things. Lean on the Lord, draw from His strength, follow His guidance.

Find God’s rest. Delight in Him.

You don’t have to hold it all together; you just have to hold onto God.

Adorn the Doctrine

Titus 2.9, 10 Exhort servants to be obedient… shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

The word, “adorn,” caught my attention.

I desire always to be true to God’s Word. I want to never subvert His Ways, change what He’s given, or add to or mishandle His meaning.

But I do want to adorn His Word.

The Hebrew root of the word translated adorn is to put in proper order, i.e. Decorate

1 Peter 3.4b – 5a …even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves…

I am a servant of my Master, the King of Kings, Savior of my soul: Jesus Christ.

May I ever be obedient to His Word; may I ever seek Him, so that I know what obedience looks like; and may I ever adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

One Body, One Lord

OneBodyOneLord

A lot of thoughts are swirling around in my head right now, from my devotions in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13; and trying to link to a couple of Stu’s posts from Oct 6th and 7th. Something God is explaining to me, something I’m trying to grasp.

1 Corinthians 12 is about the gifts God gives us (teaching, healing, prophesying, etc.) and about how they all work together in the Body of Christ; and 1 Corinthians 13 is The Love Chapter.

1 Cor 12.4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

On Oct 6th, Stu’s daily verse was from Gen 1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And my reply was, “Can you imagine- all the billions and gazillions of people ever created (note created vs ‘born’) and ALL in God’s image? He has so many facets, He is infinite!”

Jesus is God, and He is infinite. Also, we are created in His image. He works in/through all of us. Think of all the people who have ever been created, and all the gifts God designed into them; all working together as His body. In His timing, we meet up with one another, either face-to-face or through others, or reading/writing books, or radio / television, or online or whatever – we connect. God drops bits of Himself and His wisdom / Word / love through each of us unto others. We all work together for His glory!

Romans 8.28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I think we can also all know that all things work together for Him, for His glory. It is to the good to those who love God; and to the not-so-good to those who do not love Him. All to His glory. Isaiah 48.11b I will not give my glory unto another.

And one of His miracles is that He works this, His glory, through US! So, whether we feel like it or not, whether we think we’re doing any good at all or not, whether we are obedient or not, God WILL get the glory.

Stu’s verse on Oct 7 was Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

My reply: “Even when there is turmoil and sadness inside, we can clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We can put on Christ (Gal 3.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.). Sometimes it feels like a front; sometimes it feels like a blanket. But it is always right.”

Here’s where 1 Corinthians 13 comes in. God is love. Whatever we think we know about love, we have to toss it if it isn’t God. Our love is not love. 1 John 4.10a Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 Corinthians 13 lays out some of the acts that we can do, some of the impetus that drives us; but if it’s not God / agape / love, then it is clanging, nothing, dismissed, ceasing, restrained, passing away.

Even when we don’t feel like it, we can still show God’s love. We can put on Christ (think avatar or actor), and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7).

God always blesses obedience. When we obey, even stiff-necked obedience, God blesses us. If we are disobedient, God will use someone else. But we will miss the blessing.

Be a willing, active part of the body of Christ.

Every Perfect Gift (Part 2 of 2)

EveryPerfectGift*

{Part 1 click here}

Luke’s thoughts drifted to several times when he’d really bungled it, and he groaned.  “Please, Lord, just direct me.  I need you.  Amen.”

The next night was their date night.  Once a week, Luke and Tess made sure to clear their schedules of all else, to devote time to one another.  Whatever they did together, and however things panned out, they’d made a pact to always close in prayer before they went their separate ways for the night.  Luke and Tess had both confessed that they were glad they’d made the pact during the pink-and-rosy times, because there had sure been times they could have parted differently, and there had been some few prayers muttered between clenched teeth.  Tonight, however, both were really glad to see each other, and their eyes shone.

They were meeting at Tess’ apartment, and she’d prepared a simple dinner for them.  They chatted as they ate, about nothing in particular, and there was just a little spraying of water and snapping of towels as they washed the dishes up.

“Let’s go for a walk,” Luke suggested, as he held his hand out to her.  Tess searched his eyes, and shyly took it.  Luke wondered if she knew something was up, too.

They strolled to their favorite park in the evening twilight.  Luke escorted her to a bench, sat next to her, took her hands, and looked at her.  He saw a hard swallow as she looked down.

“Tess,” he began, “you know I love you.  You know I love the Lord more than I love you, and I know the same about you.  We both know where we’ve each come from; some of it ain’t pretty, but God has meant it for good, to bring us together.”  He paused, not knowing where to go, searching for words.  Tess looked up at him.  Now he looked down, and let go her hands.  “Tess, we’ve talked about marriage before, and I’ve never sensed that you’re sure, that it’s what you really want.  I don’t want to push you into anything, and I don’t want you running away, but I just feel that I have to say something.”

He looked again at Tess.  She swallowed again, but was silent.  Dared he think her eyes reflected hope?

“Okay,” he started again.  “I had this idea.”  He reached into his shirt pocket.  “I brought my lucky coin.”  He locked eyes with her.

“Heads we get married, tails we break up.”

Tess looked at the coin, looked at Luke, and smiled.  It was a great, huge, joyful smile.  She knew that coin, that old Roman coin, Luke’s lucky silver coin from his father.  The one with the head of Zeus on one side, and the head of Jupiter on the other.  “Go for it!” she said.

Epilogue

Luke and Tess were again seated on their favorite park bench.  Luke reached into his shirt pocket.

“Remember that lucky coin?” he asked.

Tess smiled and nodded.

“It’s in this little box.” he said, and opened it.  Inside was an exquisite ring, detailed with diamond and ruby.

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty,” he went on: “not in luck or false gods.  I had that coin melted down, and now it symbolizes the unbroken circle of our love.  Proverbs 31 asks, ‘Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.’  Tess, you are far above rubies, but I hope this symbolizes the infinite value I place upon you.”  He took her hand, and slid the ring onto her finger.  “And the diamond, well, …”

Tess beheld her beloved through mizzled eyes.  “This diamond is forever,” she finished, “and I will wear it forever, as my pledge of love and respect for you.”

*photo from http://www.alamy.com/

Every Perfect Gift (Part 1 of 2)

EveryPerfectGift*

James1.17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Luke turned back to that verse again.  James, chapter one, had been the topic in their Bible Study group last night, and verse 17 had jumped out at him.  His thoughts had gone immediately to Tess, and he’d looked over at her, wondering if she had sensed it, too.  Not evidently.

Now he was prepping for their next Bible study already.  They only met once a week, but God was tapping him on the shoulder.  In Chapter two, it happened again: For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  Luke knew that: he’d known Jesus as his Savior for ten years now, and had jumped into God’s Word with both feet, no turning back.  Today, though, he was seeing this verse with a new perspective.  He was thinking of Tess, and he was pretty sure God had brought his thoughts there.  To know what to do, and not do it – that would be to dishonor God.

Luke and Tess had met as sophomores in a study group – Shakespeare, of all things.  She’d helped him limp through that one, and, although from almost antithetical backgrounds, they’d found in each other kindred spirits.  They shared all kinds of interests, from sports (he had a pretty good batting average and she had a mean hook shot) to coins (both their fathers had had coin collections).  From friendship had come deeper feelings.  Now, both in their last semesters, they had tailored their classes and activities to spend as much time together as possible.  Luke had known for the past year that Tess was The One; had known with all his heart, without a doubt.  He’d prayed about it often, and it was during times like right now, when he was talking with God, that he knew it the hardest.

Tess was skittish, though.  Luke could understand that.  She’d had a rough time of it in her home, growing up with alcoholism and divorce and death.  Luke was excited at the joy and peace he saw in her as she grew in her faith.  They’d talked about marriage several times, of course.  At first, just skirting the perimeters, dabbling, speaking in the most general of terms.  More recently, conversations had turned much more personal, and timelines had been touched upon.  Tess still seemed evasive and nervous.

Luke knew God must be working in her heart, just like God was working in his.  When he thought of asking Tess to marry him, his heart jumped, and he had that sharp feeling in his gut that he always got when he knew it was God.  Was it time?  Now?

Luke folded his hands over his Bible, and bowed his head.  “Lord, I think You’re telling me that it’s time to ask Tess.  You know my heart, and you know how much I want it – I think You put that desire in me.  I’m praying, Lord, that You are also working in Tess, and that this is Your perfect timing.  If it isn’t, if I’m reading You wrong, please let me know.  I don’t want to do something really stupid.  ‘Cause You know I do that.”  Luke’s thoughts drifted to several times when he’d really bungled it, and he groaned.  “Please, Lord, just direct me.  I need you.  Amen.”

The next night was their date night.

To be continued…

*photo from http://www.alamy.com/