Did God order a heavenly dove down to my college dormitory room years ago to tell me that one day I would be speaking to thousands of hormonal teenagers about dating and marriage? No. If he had, I might have whooshed that birdie out the window and slammed the sash down on its tail feathers. In his great wisdom, God knew better than to reveal the whole picture from the beginning.
After working as an archaeologist in southeast Asia and excavating an ancient temple site in Laos, I returned to Oklahoma ready to pursue graduate work. There God made clear that he never intended me to spend my life repairing cracked pots from hundreds and thousands of years ago. Instead he was sending me to work with a tribal group living in the jungles of Mexico.
Me, a missionary? I had a strong measure of faith, but frankly, I had no pioneering skills and looked more like “Missionary Impossible” than Indiana Joan. I filled out an application to the mission only to prove God wrong. They’d never dare accept it.
Only they did.
That night, I fled from campus to a nearby church which had an 24-hour prayer chapel. There in that darkened room, I wept and exclaimed, “God, for the first time in all eternity, you have made a mistake.”
Allowing my pulse to slow down, I began to read my Bible. It opened to the verse in Psalm 143 which said, “Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.”
And that is what he has done. Over the years, that Spirit has led me, step by step, to good places. Sometimes I go willingly but other times kicking and screaming. I ended up loving my work in Mexico so much that I intended to remain single all my life. When God introduced Gene into my life, I protested. Loudly.
But again God gently prevailed. The single woman married. Gene and I became the parents of three. They grew up and married. Together, my husband and I began counseling others whose marriages were falling apart. I saw all around me young people who had not chosen to follow God’s path. Their dating relationships were full of pain and sorrow. They had regrets. So with the blessing of my husband, I began speaking in public schools and to community groups about the benefits of waiting for sex until marriage.
Today I look back and see how every step of the journey has been good. God, with his wry sense of humor, moved me from gluing together shards of hundred-year-old clay pots to repairing the broken lives of young men and women. He is wise.