Gather round and snuggle in, cause' it's story time.
I had a request from a friend to share this story and I aim to please...
Waaay back in 2005 Drew Jones and I met and became friends. We almost dated and then didn't, because the timing just wasn't right. I knew I could end up loving him deeply and never told him that...I just put it in a little locket in my heart and only showed the very closest of friends. It was quite painful, being friends with a man I loved...but I heard clearly from God that I needed to let go. And so I did. Over and over.
So in the midst of this I go to a women's retreat at a place called Lake Hope. A very fitting name indeed. We stayed in cabins in the woods situated around one another. It was beautiful and peaceful.
Halfway through the weekend we break out into small groups. I lead our group to picnic table after picnic table finding each one inadequate for us. Either too close to another group or too dirty. I finally spot one a bit further away and make my way over.
I arrive at the table a few paces ahead of my friends. I plop down and glance down at the table and can't believe my eyes...
Our names in hearts engraved in a table miles and miles away from home. Obviously neither Drew Jones or I had done this. But it was there, and now I was there staring at it. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
So I laughed.
And cried later.
My friend made me promise that I would take a photo of it before we left. I almost didn't. It was no coincidence and it confused and angered me. A mixed message of "have hope and let go" made me want to run and hide. I understand it now but could only choose faith then.
Almost 2 years later we started dating. Those 2 years were a journey of faith and patience that hurt like hell. And man, was it worth it. On so many levels. I didn't hurt for nothing. God tucked me in every night and woke me with a smile every morning. His presence and love makes suffering not only tolerable but eternally useful.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Needless to say we have the photo of that engraved picnic table framed in our bedroom. If you come over sometime I'll show it to you.