Our Blessed Life

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jeff's Take, Part 2

I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to post this latest installment on the day we met. To read Shannon's account, click here. To catch up on my perspective, click here for the prologue and here for part one.

There are some things that God puts in the heart of every boy, and there are some things that He puts in the heart of every girl. Leaving room for damage done to us by this fallen, broken world, I believe there are defaults for how men and women think, feel, and behave themselves.

Two things that most men and boys can relate to are shepherds and soldiers. There's something innate in us that wants to protect, and we are willing to fight to the death in defense of what we're fighting for. I think that we men are designed to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father by leading, watching over, providing for, and protecting that which has been placed in our care.

The reason I'm telling you this is because of something the Lord was doing in me (in a most wonderful, unexpected way) the day I met Shannon.

You need to understand that, at the time we met, I was living an almost ideal life for a single Christian guy. I was doing work that was Biblical, strategic, and important. I was living in an exotic location. Life as I knew it was an interesting blend of adventurer, secret agent, and minister. I was living the dream.

...but by the end of that day, something in me was awakened.

From the moment I met Shannon, I was distracted by her. Her eyes, her smile, her energy and enthusiasm, her obvious love for the Lord and His obvious Presence in her. Within moments of meeting her I realized there was nothing else I'd rather be doing than spending the day with her. Fortunately, that was the plan.

My lucky day had arrived. No, not luck - Someone Else had a plan.

However, I reminded myself, I'm not on a date with this beauty, I'm here to be a resource and a friend to both her and B. In fact, I would remind myself throughout the day that I needed to engage B as well, not just Shannon. Apparently, I did a good job of hiding my interest, because for months after that first day, Shannon thought I was attracted to B. In the interest of full disclosure, B is a very interesting, charming, funny, adventurous, godly woman. She just isn't Shannon. And Shannon was always the one that God had for me. But I digress...

Along with all of her other amazing qualities, there was one thing about Shannon that kept coming to the surface during that day. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was unquestionably appealing. Though I couldn't define it, I found myself responding quite easily to it all day. I wanted to watch over her and care for her. I mean this in a different way than just be her translator and tour guide. And then, over a banana chocolate milkshake, she defined it for me. In a vulnerable moment, she shared with us (B was there, too) that, although she felt called to the work, the place, and the people, she could not do it alone.

She needed someone. That was the thing which was so appealing abut her. She needed to be looked after. Shannon desperately needed a husband to lead, to protect, to guide, to shepherd her. As she shared that with us ("I just can't do it alone."), there was no mistaking what she meant. And it took an enormous amount of self-control for me to not volunteer for that assignment right on the spot. Just as real as an alarm clock, that statement woke up something in me that God had put in me (and, I think, in every boy and man).

You see, all my life, I have wanted to be heroic. Most boys do. (and, I imagine, most men do, too). I have come to understand - since becoming a husband and a daddy - that being heroic is just too small a goal for boys and men to attain to. We are created for so much more than random acts of heroism and bravery. We are created to follow the example of Jesus and bear the image of God in our lives and in the lives that we touch. Let me put it another way...

As I sat there across the table from the most beautiful woman I'd ever encountered, I was stunned by her honesty. And then I was inspired to action.

I wanted to meet all her needs and make sure that she was taken care of.

I wanted to lead her to places of provision and rest.

I wanted to connect her to Jesus, the fountain of life, and help her drink deeply of the living water.

Does this have a familiar feel to it? "The Lord is my Shepherd..."

gratuitous picture of one of my daughters' favorite movie stars

God awoke something in me that day, something that I think He puts in the heart of every boy (and man) - a shepherd's heart. The 23rd Psalm paints a picture not only of how God looks after us, but also of how we are to look after the flocks which the Good Shepherd has entrusted to us. Now I want to lead, provide, watch over, and protect.

But I have left that story and moved on to something else, so let me go back.

As I said, I just sat there stunned, for at least two reasons. The first was her honesty and vulnerability. I mean, people don't just say things like that - at least not without making a joke out of it. She really opened herself up to some ridicule there, even in the presence of her friend and the missionary, because her friend was Ms. "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me - I don't need anyone else to help me get the job done," and the missionary was (as far as she knew) some gung-ho, all-out, no excuses, no-quit kind of guy. Yet she bared her soul, admitted her weakness and need, and captured my heart in the process. (she's had it ever since).

Which was the second reason I was stunned. I just knew that I had to be with this woman. Not yet in the forever, 'till death do us part kind of way, but I had to know what kind of person has this kind of courage to be so weak and needy? And how did she get this way? And does she really have a boyfriend, or not? And if so, would it be wrong for me to bump him out of the way and woo her?

But the day was ending, and it was time to go. I had no good official reason to be with her - er, them, anymore. So I walked them back to the guesthouse they were staying at, and then made my way back home, wondering what it would be like to be with a woman like that...



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