This week Mark and I celebrated our three-year anniversary. We had a whirlwind courtship. In those four-and-a-half months from first date to marriage, I don’t think my feet ever touched the ground. My brain was swimming in oxytocin, the love hormone (and I thought I had no more hormones!) . The anticipation, hours spent in preparation for a date-roses, candles, music. Long talks that only ended because it was getting too late. Did he just say “Hi, gorgeous,” on the phone to me? I grew younger by the day, the heaviness of loss and facing life alone now fading away.
Christmas night 2009, after all the holiday festivities were over, I was alone and feeling very depressed. That’s when the Lord gave me Isaiah 43:18-19, “Remember not the former things nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?” I felt hope that something or someone would be brought into my life in the new year. So I did what many of us do-I jumped in to try to help God make it happen!
Let me tell you, it is a narrow playing field at 50-something. The online dating services seemed scary to me. I was tempted, but I never ventured into that arena. I let friends know I was ready to jump in, and soon I did go on a few dates. It was exciting at first, but they left me empty because God wasn’t in them. So I did what I should have done in the beginning. I surrendered it to him. I sensed him telling me that when/if he brought me a new husband, we would be better for the kingdom together than we could be alone.
So how did I meet Mark? Two words: Facebook and the gym. I didn’t meet Mark at the gym, but that’s where he saw me. He found out who I was and sent me a friend request on Facebook that I declined without a second thought. Then he was told I was co-leading a Bible study for singles, so he messaged me to ask about it. I replied and told him that was true, but it wasn’t going to be for men anymore because we had lost our male leadership. However, I did consider him “safe” at that point and accepted his friend request.
The short version is we eventually connected, and he asked me to meet him for coffee to discuss ministry, which became meeting for dinner instead, which became his picking me up for dinner. We both weren’t sure if it was going to be a real date, but my friends told me if he didn’t pay, to ditch him. He paid. We had a lovely dinner and came back to my house and talked nonstop until midnight. After he left I sent a one-word text to my friend Lisa, “Wow.”
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The enemy tried to steal my dreams, kill my hope, and destroy God’s will for my life when my former husband died. That first night the Lord kept telling me, “I have already seen this day. All the days ordained for you are written in my book (Psalm 139). I still have a plan for you and your children, to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). ” And there was peace in the midst of my grief. Oh, yes, there was pain. But there was an odd sweetness, a special grace that came from knowing that a very good God was holding me together.
Do we really, truly believe God is willing to give us abundant life? I would have never imagined that I would feel like a young bride in my 50s! The truth is he wants to give us abundant life every day, but we have to receive it. Sometimes in our lives, we have to pass through the waters, but God promises to be with us. We may even have to walk through the fire, but he promises we will not be burned (Isaiah 43:2). But most of the time, it is in day-to-day life that we settle for less than what God has for us. We have to choose to seek God for it.
Father, I thank you for Mark, for the love we have and the adventure of following after you with our lives. Thank you for restoring our hope and our future. I pray for my sisters who will read this post, that they would know your faithfulness in whatever their circumstances may be. I pray they will trust that you have a plan for them as well. Give us all the grace to receive the abundant life you offer us in your Son, Jesus. Amen.