Does Phil Talk about God?

IMG_7493“Lisa, I hear you’re interested in that cute guy who tutored you this summer.   Phil’s his name, right?  Yeah.  Seems like a pretty nice guy.  Kinda quiet.  Look, I love you enough to ask you a pivotal question.  Does he talk about God?  I mean, does he seem really excited about what God’s doing in the world?”

My head lowered and I responded truthfully, “No.  Not really.  You’re right.  He is kinda quiet.”

“Lisa, you’re heading to the mission field, right?  I mean, girl, you’re excited about Jesus, evangelism, discipleship.  You’re a leader in our ministry and I love you enough to tell you the truth.  You don’t want to marry a man who doesn’t talk about God.  Have you even heard his testimony?”

“Not really.  Bits and pieces, I guess.”

The conversation continued throughout the afternoon.  This woman loved me very much and wanted my best.  She loved God profoundly and was wise in a lot of ways.  I trusted her.  So that night I did something very difficult.   Something I thought was God’s will.   I called the man in Tennessee who had only recently declared his undying love for me.

“Phil, I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry about what?”

“I jumped in too soon.  I wasn’t thinking clearly.  The other night, on the phone, when you told me you loved me, I guess I just got caught up in the moment.  Got off track a little bit.  I should have never said I loved you.  We were just friends this summer, right?  I’m absolutely certain I’m going to the foreign mission field.  Somehow I just let my feelings get in the way of my calling.  And I’m terribly sorry.  I never meant to hurt you, but we can’t be in a relationship right now.  I live in Texas.  You live in Tennessee.  I’m going overseas.  You’re going to be a pilot.  All we can be is good friends.”

The silence was deafening.  Finally after moments that seemed like hours, he spoke.  “I’m disappointed.  I was serious when I told you I loved you.  But if that’s not what you want, if I’m not the person you want, I’ll have to accept it.”

When the phone went dead, I was supposed to feel better.  Relief even.  After all, I was about to compromise and get all serious and maybe even marry a guy that could never talk as smoothly or as excitedly about the things of God as the guys in my ministry group.  I was about to enter into a very serious relationship with a guy who had never been overseas, didn’t know the Bible as well as I did, hadn’t memorized his testimony, and probably didn’t even know all the lyrics to Keith Green songs.  Whew!  Bullet dodged.

But I was miserable.  Oh, how I cried.  Phil was the kindest friend I’d ever known.  My wise Godly mom walked into my room and asked a simple question, “If it hurts so bad to be without Phil, why did you break up?”  I recounted all the ways he was simply not the man for me.  “Mom, even my friends agree.  He would never be able to lead me in the faith.”

How I thank God for the wisdom of my mature and merciful mother who had also been his boss at work.  “What?  Lisa, I found Phil to be a man of serious faith.  Look at his kindness, his selflessness, the way he served you and others.  And didn’t he join that Bible study at the church?”

“Mom, yes.  He joined the study.  But he could never lead the study.  He hardly even knows the Bible.  How could he lead me?”

My mom spoke with clarity.  “Lisa, every Christian man wants to lead.  It’s deep down inside, given to them by God.  The question is not whether Phil will learn to lead, but whether you will learn to follow.”

Every day for almost 32 years I have thanked God for my mom’s incredible wisdom.  Every day I’ve been grateful for her discernment.  My friends were wrong and so was I.  Even my mentor was off on this one.  We all wanted Phil to talk the talk.  That would come later.  God wanted me to observe how he walked the walk.  That was of utmost importance.

About 48 hours passed and I called Phil and told him I’d been an idiot.  He expressed relief and said he’d been tempted to call, but felt it was wise to let me work it out.  Beautifully gracious.  This was/is his way.  Blessedly, we never ever broke up again.  We got engaged in December and we married in April.

Those first few years of marriage, we faithfully served together in a little church.  He learned to lead with love.  I learned to follow with joy.   It was a process.  A beautiful process.

Fast forward 32 years.  Phil facilitates a men’s Bible study.  He can share his testimony, and talk theology.  He knows the Bible far better than me.  We’ve traveled to a lot of places, and a lot of people have sat in our living room for his wise counsel over the years.

But can I tell you something beautiful?  Those things are not the end all of his Christian character.  They’re just the results of God working in His life all these years, slowly, beautifully.  Ordinary grace provided by an extraordinary Savior.

Young Christian woman, lean in and listen carefully.  Marry the giver.  Marry the one who doesn’t always seek the spotlight.  Marry the one who others may think is too quiet or too boring or too ordinary.  Marry the one who knows how to change a tire for a woman on the side of the road…and who will actually stop and do it.  Marry that guy.  And then respect him.  Love and respect him every single day in 1000 ways.

The beauty of your Christian marriage will be marked by character, not chatter.  By selflessness, not self-promotion.  By late night runs for baby Tylenol.  Hand holding at hospitals.  By lots of “I was wrong.  Will you please forgive me?”  And lots of “I was wrong too.  Will you please forgive me too?”  There will be endless amounts of humility and forgiveness required.  The extraordinary beauty of him lying up close to you night after glorious night because he promised you he would stay.  And he does.  And with each passing year, you both talk about how you thought it couldn’t get better.  And then it did.

We live in a world of endless chatter, friend.  A world that honors lip service above real service.  Thank you, Mama.  Thank you for helping me see clearly that day.  Thank you for teaching me that the heart of a man is not in what he says, but what he does.

Contact Lisa on FB at lisasmarttbooks or through her website at http://www.lisasmartt.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wendy
    Feb 10, 2020 @ 02:15:01

    Did you end up on the mission field? You don’t mention that in your story. So many students are willing to give up that step of obedience like it doesn’t make a difference.

    Reply

    • thesmarttview
      Feb 10, 2020 @ 06:53:48

      Wendy,
      Great question! Did we end up living in a foreign country? No. Did we end up on the mission field? Absolutely. Phil went to graduate school for his master’s degree and ultimately, his PhD. We have been SO blessed to meet with and minister to people from all around the world. Now he’s a college professor and we both have a heart for ministering to college students, singles, and young married couples. The Bible says the marriage is to be a graphic portrayal of the love between Christ and His church. It’s a walking evangelistic tool. We’ve seen that time and time again. Thankful! To quote the wisest woman I’ve ever known, “Going overseas will never make someone a missionary who’s not one, and living in the U.S. will never make someone not a missionary who is one.”

      Reply

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