One of the hardest things for me to do is wait. Yet, all throughout Scripture we are commanded to wait, to be still. So many times the temptation is there for me to try to run ahead of God and do things in my way and my time frame instead of waiting for Him to work out His will in His way and His time.
The most difficult area for me to wait upon God has been regarding a life partner. Some years ago, I committed myself to wait to pursue a relationship with a young man until I was ready for marriage and my parents had given their full blessing and approval. Making this commitment was a simple matter, but the keeping of it has been another thing.
The Paine family began attending our church around ten years ago. We got to know Jesse’s dad and step-mother and realized that our families had a very kindred spirit in the things of the Lord. I found myself being strangely drawn to their oldest son, Jesse. Jesse displayed great strength and maturity at such a young age, which was partly because of having the trials at an early age that accompany living in a divided home. When he was 11, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required emergency surgery for its removal. One month later, his mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. I was impressed as I observed how courageously he endured these trials. Instead of being crushed under by the magnitude of them, he seemed to grow stronger.
Around this time, I started waking up to the fact that I was attracted to Jesse. This attraction turned out to be much more than a passing phase in my life. It became a constant battle – especially since I saw Jesse every week at church. I would surrender him and all my hopes, expectations, and dreams surrounding him to God. I would think I was “over it,” and then a few months later, I would be back in “square one” again trying to fight it. God showed me that this was something I could not conquer in my own strength. I had to cry out to Him for His grace and mercy to overcome the strong temptation to be emotionally attached. I clung to the precious promises in God’s Word such as, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When I was 17, the Lord revealed to me that I had been making marriage my ultimate goal in life. If this were the case, I realized that once I was married, I would have accomplished my life’s mission and would have nothing else to live for. I started viewing singleness as a gift and focusing on the freedoms and blessings singleness provides and began striving to redeem the years I had left before marriage (my parents and I believed marriage was God’s will for me – somewhere down the road).
In spite of being content in singleness, I still found my heart being pulled towards Jesse. As time passed, this became stronger and stronger until I realized I could not deal with it on my own and, as a result, came and confessed my feelings for Jesse to my father and asked him for his help. He encouraged me to look to the Lord and focus on the Lord. That was the first in a succession of talks with my parents about Jesse. I am so grateful for their counsel and prayers for me regarding this and for their willingness to keep me accountable.
Although I had unbarred my feelings to my parents, that didn’t cause the feelings to go away. In fact, they seemed to intensify. The Lord used this time to force me to cry out to Him for strength to withstand temptation and keep myself emotionally and mentally pure. Though I greatly desired to pursue a relationship with Jesse, I wanted even more earnestly to be completely in God’s will and God’s time frame. I knew it was out of my control. All I could do was to offer up my desires to God and wait upon Him to accomplish His will for my life. My heart sought to follow Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Near the end of March 2001, the Lord performed a miraculous work in my heart and brought me to the place where I completely surrendered everything regarding Jesse into His control. I realized how wrong I had been. Jesse had taken number one priority in my life – even over my relationship with the Lord. I had been setting my heart and affections upon him, rather than the Lord. I confessed this to the Lord and sought His forgiveness. Even though everything wasn’t perfect after that and there was still the temptation off and on to set my focus on Jesse, I was at peace and completely resigned to the will of my Heavenly Father. I wanted to wait upon Him regarding a life partner, instead of running ahead of Him. Along with the psalmist I could declare, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).
Little did I know, but while God was doing this work in my own heart, He had been impressing upon my parents’ hearts that Jesse was the one for me. They did not tell anyone, but quietly brought it before the Lord.
As Crystal has already mentioned, God has taken me through a number of trials over the past ten years. If I were to narrow down all of the lessons that He has taught me during this time, it would come down to the necessity to live by faith, knowing that He will provide for all my needs. Nowhere was this more applicable-and more difficult-than in my waiting for who God would have for me to marry.
During this time of waiting, God was teaching me the importance of leaving everything in His hands. Scripture plainly teaches that God is sovereign in all things, and if it was His will, He would, in His timing, reveal His will to me and my parents about who I was to marry. God gave me a number of verses that I clung to as my own as I waited for Him. “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5). “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; he is my defense, I shall not be greatly movedÃ¢Â?Â¦My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8).
Waiting on the Lord concerning a life partner is not the easiest thing in the world. It was especially difficult for me, because the young lady I was confident was God’s chosen one for me attended the same church as my family. However, God gave me grace to trust His timing and His work. He kept bringing me to the point where I had to place Crystal on His altar and give her to Him. Notice I said, “kept bringing?” This was because I kept taking her off, wishing to rush God’s timing, which I thought to be too slow. However, God’s timing has proven to be perfect, as always.
After a home school conference that we attended in the beginning of June, I committed Crystal to God (once again) and desired that He would be the Author of our story, no matter how many times I would be tempted to pick up the pen and write a chapter myself. He again brought me to the point of crying “not my will, but Thine be done.”
My parents and I had been seriously praying about Crystal since the winter of 2000. At the beginning of June, my dad went to Crystal’s father and expressed to him my desire to pursue a relationship with Crystal. Our parents earnestly prayed about it and, on June 14, 2001, they met and discussed the possibility of our courtship. They were absolutely at peace that this was God’s will for us and they gave their complete blessing and approval. It truly was by the miraculous working of God to bring us to this new point in our lives – courtship. This is a significant step, because under our definition of courtship, we are both committed to marriage, and not to a “let’s try it and see if this works” mentality. I think that the bliss of courtship is multiplied because of the times of waiting God has taken us through. It is very true that nothing is worth having that is not worth waiting for.
One of the greatest things to see in all this is how God worked in both of our hearts simultaneously, without either of us knowing the feelings of the other. When my parents came home on that never-to-be-forgotten evening of June 14 and called me into the kitchen telling me they needed to talk to me, I wondered what it could be about. I knew that something was up. My parents had not let on very much, but I had known that something was being discussed between them and the Paines. I had tried very hard not to have any hopes or expectations and keep my mind focused on Christ. They told me to sit down at the table and then looked very seriously at me and stated, “Crystal, Jesse wants to court you.” I sat there in stunned silence. They began to recount to me how he had been praying about me for so long and had committed his heart to me for so many years. It took me a while to recover. I had no idea. All these years I had struggled and struggled with an attraction to Jesse, without any clue he had been praying he could marry me! I felt so unworthy, so unprepared, and so immature to be facing such a huge thing at nineteen as marriage. When I expressed these feelings to my parents, they shared with me how everyone had complete peace that this was God’s will and God’s time. They had no doubts and were ready to give their total blessing upon our courtship. I was encouraged to remember that God doesn’t call those who are qualified; He qualifies those whom He calls. The Lord filled my heart with His peace. That night, I committed my heart to Jesse: no reserves, no retreats, no regrets. It is amazing to see how God can work when we commit everything into His hands and His keeping. This is so much more wonderful than anything I could have ever dreamed, imagined, or asked for. As Ephesians 3:20-21 says: “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.”
It is our prayer that through our testimony God would challenge each of you – no matter what stage in life you are in – to make the Lord your Rest and your Stay. As He has proven so many times in our lives, He is faithful and will supply all of your needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). All that we need to do is just wait and watch the glorious hand of God as He unfolds the wonderful plans He has for our lives. Though it isn’t always the easiest thing, let us entrust our future into His keeping. His plans are far above anything you could ever dream or imagine-and they definitely are worth waiting for.