“Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?” — Amos 3:3, The MESSAGE
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” — Amos 3:3, KJV
During February, the world around us looks to Valentine’s Day and focuses on romantic love. I think back to 1991 when I was still planning on asking Gay to marry me… I knew what I wanted… that we be husband and wife… but it wouldn’t work unless she said “YES.” She had to agree or else we could not walk together through the rest of our lives.
And since she had point blank said NO when I asked the first time in 1983, I wasn’t absolutely sure how the night would go. (Actually, she emphatically said: “It’s nice to be that special someone, but it’ll never happen!”) She was heading for college and I still was trying to find out what I was going to do (and trying to avoid anything to do with ministry!) Seven years would pass with her graduating college and getting a teaching job, while I went to whatever job I could, in whatever town I could find it, in order to “find myself.” We could not walk “hand in hand” because we weren’t “going to the same place.”
Tonight, when I stumbled onto this passage from Amos, I mentally traveled back in time to 1991. I had moved to Corry where she was a music teacher and I was a youth director for one of the United Methodist churches. We had now been friends for 13 years and God had done much in directing and guiding each one of us and I was almost done with my undergraduate degree. For six months now, we had been hanging out and talking, visiting and doing stuff together… not dating, but just being friends… talking, laughing, and spending time together.
I asked her dad if I could ask her to marry me, I bought a ring, and proudly showed everyone I knew… except her. And I went to her house and “popped the question.” The nervousness I had, the suspense between my asking and her responding, the almost heart-bursting jubilation, joy, and excitement when she finally said “Yes” are still with me.
All of those memories reminded me how invested and interested I was in being on exactly the same page as she was. I hung on her every word… especially that three letter word: “Yes”.
But as I reflected on this Bible verse more, I could sense the Lord saying there was at least one more application of life-giving blessing in this passage for us this February… not just romantically walking together but also our walk together with Christ. Jesus came and invited us, the church, to be his “bride.” Each of us, individually, are asked to be his and to make him our own. He has popped the question and waits for each of us to respond. How can we walk together for all of eternity if we’re not agreed? How can we walk together if we’re going to the same place?
Just like my asking Gay to marry me, if she had not agreed, or hadn’t bothered to even respond, then there would have been no wedding and no walking together… Not because I didn’t ask and invite, but because of her lack of positive response. And NO response IS a response.
When it comes to Gay and me this second time I asked, eight years later… she did say yes, and we were married May 18, 1991. I’m certain she has often thought that “this wasn’t what I thought I was signing on for” as we’ve faced difficulties and moves and illnesses. She had even warned me on the night she accepted my proposal that she had no intention of ever moving from place to place to place. But she had weighed her choices, she made her decision, and she has faithfully stuck by me through thick and thin, change after change after change…
And because she also said YES to Christ, when my call to pastoral ministry became clear, she did end up moving with me… although I think that was a sign of her love for Christ even more than me! Almost 17 years later, we still walk together… because we daily choose to say yes to each other again… one more time… for another day… and we say yes to Him one more time, for another day.
How about you and Christ? He’s asked and invited. Have you responded? He’s waiting for a decision… and hesitating or not giving a response IS a response just as clearly as if you’d said NO.
Are you walking with Christ?