My eldest daughter is getting married in nine months. I can still remember walking out of the doctor’s office smiling as my view of myself and the world was shifting with the news of her impending arrival. Those nine months dragged on and on. I have been warned many times that these nine months will be a blur. I am not prepared to host an event that holds such promise and potential for disaster at the same time. I am, however, more prepared to hand her over to the man I know God has chosen for her.
As my children started getting older I wondered how in the world I would know who they should date and who they shouldn’t. Should they even date? When they marry, there’s a 100% chance the groom will have problems. How will I know the good from the bad, the normal dysfunction from the absolute deal-breakers? Will I even have any say in the matter?
When this daughter of ours was growing up, she was a very spiritual child. She loved God in an intuitive way. From an early age, she dealt with God directly, not through us. It was an amazing thing to witness and comforting to know that her foundation was solid. I used to tease that the boy who came around to date her would have to know his favorite verse in Amos in order to impress us and her.
So fast forward to when she was 19 and we were going to hear her new boyfriend preach. We had not heard him preach before and, between you and me, I was hoping the preaching thing was just a phase for him. You see, I knew she really liked this guy and I knew I didn’t want her to have to be a pastor’s wife. He started out with a welcome and a little humor and then he told us he would be preaching on one of his “favorite” verses in all the Bible, Amos 4:12. I can’t really explain what I felt when I heard him say that. I had not repeated the warning about Amos to anyone in over ten years. I had forgotten all about it. Then with those few words, the memory of it all rushed back and I was floored. Fortunately, he could not see my eyes from where he was preaching or he might have panicked at the sight of me fighting off the emotions that came along with it all. It was my sign, my fleece that I had not purposely laid out, to answer all my questions about what was best for this precious child. God was telling me that she is precious to Him too and He had this taken care of long ago.
It was very clear from the beginning of the sermon that this was no phase for him. He has the gift and the calling. I can’t tell you what the sermon was about or how he applied the words of that verse to his message that day, but I know I think about it often. When they are sitting around unable to pick a restaurant because they are both people-pleasers, I am tempted to worry about how this will play out in the many decisions that will be swirling around them so soon. When I think of what a suburban girl she is and what a country boy he is, I wonder if I failed to prepare her for life with him. He had such a great upbringing – he knows how to do just about anything. I should have taught her to can or sew or something. These are the worries you start to give into, but I have the great comfort of knowing he is the one and they will be as prepared for marriage as anyone can be.
I realize it is only necessary for my daughter to be sure. Ultimately, it is her decision. But God lovingly gave me a special confirmation for my heart to make letting go of her easier. I have thought about purposely laying out the same kind of fleece for my other children so that I will be pleasantly surprised again. I’m not sure it would work the same way if I set it up purposely. Part of the beauty is the serendipity. All I can recommend is that we keep our eyes wide open and know our children so well that the sign God gives will be neon. We must also believe that He enjoys giving us gifts like this. If you do put out a fleece for this or any other area, remember that the sign Gideon asked for was supernatural. Don’t pick something that could possibly be coincidence. Only God can do such unlikely works. Set your bar high.
The sign God sent was for me, but the marriage they enter into will be theirs. My work, such as it was, will be done. The life she will start will be separate from mine because she has always been, and will continue to be His child.