A comment at a conference – It was my junior year. I was 20 years old. I was an engineering major. And I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I attended a conference that was geared toward those who were in the same boat as I was… on the fast track to a good job and worldly success but not sure that was really the way that we wanted to spend the next 40 years of our lives. I heard a speaker that weekend make a comment that changed the whole direction of my life. He said this: “There are only 2 things in this world that are eternal, God’s Word and people, therefore we should spend our lives investing in these 2 eternal things.” From that point on I began considering vocational ministry so that I could maximize the time I had to invest in eternal things. I decided to finish out my engineering degree since that was the quickest way out of college and began thinking about graduate school at a seminary where I could get theologically grounded. Lesson learned: You never know how something that you say may challenge someone to change the course of their life – for good or for bad – so be careful what you say.
Hearing God speak loud and clear (the third time) – It was the summer of 1980. Linda had graduated from UNC-G and I had graduated from Tulane. We had been dating (mostly long distance) for 1 year. We were at Myrtle Beach for the week hanging out with my family. One evening while walking on the beach I expressed to her that I was having some doubts about our relationship. This came from out of nowhere to her and made for a very awkward evening. I couldn’t sleep so I went out to the hallway of the condo complex where we were staying and was praying. Again, in the quiet of the night, God spoke very loud and clear to me – not an audible voice but as loud in my spirit as if it were audible. This time He said, “You are to marry that girl!” There has never been a doubt in my mind from that night on that Linda is supposed to be my wife. And here we are now, 30 years later, enjoying each other in a great marriage and the fruit of what comes from willful obedience to God.
August 1, 1981 (8.1.81) – So I proposed on Christmas Day 1980 and we were married on August 1, 1981. We had a really fun celebration. A lot of my friends came up from Aiken. We were able to share with all our friends and family about how we intended for the Lord to be priority in our marriage. Wedding was Saturday afternoon. Flew to Atlanta for Saturday night and then to Bermuda for our honeymoon. It’s been a fun, fast 29+ years. God has used my wonderful bride to complete me, to help steer the direction of my life, and to be a fabulous helpmate as we have raised 3 children, served on 2 church staffs, and sought to navigate the sometimes rough waters of this world. It’s been a fun ride and I’m glad she has been with me every step of the way. We’re excited about what the next 30 years have in store.
***(The last few Defining Moments will appear in a later post)