Our comfy chairs were just right for relaxing and people watching after a long day. It was early Saturday evening as we sat chatting and enjoying a snack in the sleek and stylish lobby of our hotel. It is completely worth noting here that we did not plan to be at this particular hotel. Our reservations for this special weekend were at another hotel. On Friday night, after checking in at the original hotel, we were told the water line had burst in the basement and our room would have no water or air until fixed! Thankfully, the manager offered to transfer our reservation to a close by, newer hotel. While a bit of an inconvenience initially, as our story unfolds, you will see how this turn of events was a divine appointment.
For now, our conversation between the two of us drifted back to the video lesson topics from the afternoon. We were here to do a marriage “VisionRetreat”. Some of the videos were on prayer, children, finances etc. In particular, we discussed how my current career would be winding down soon leading me to seek what God has for me next. While this situation comes as no surprise, it is a most bittersweet circumstance, as I have homeschooled our precious girls since they were born… and now they are in high school! I feel blessed beyond measure for our quality time together through the years. Yes, I have been their “teacher” but they have certainly taught me and grown me just as much in these brief years at home. They are tremendous young women and I treasure every day with them! So, as my husband and I sit visiting on the subject of my future, he says with confidence that God has a big plan for me/us. It is at this moment in our chat that suddenly, he stops mid-sentence and leans forward with his eyes gazing toward the check-in desk and says these words:
“Is that who I think it is?...”
For just a moment, let me digress to a question: Do you know that the current divorce rate in America has now surpassed 50% and that includes Christians? Such a statistic seems shocking until one realizes that in our culture we are expected to work hard at EVERY endeavor… except marriage!
We are taught to get some form of training leading into adulthood. Maybe we seek out a certificate or a degree or two to learn about the profession we intend to occupy. After that, we are expected to “climb the ladder” by getting more experience, attending more seminars and racking up more hours of continuing education to keep ourselves current. Clearly, all of these things can lead to success and are highly recommended; yet, at the same time, teaching success in our marriages has been widely ignored and overlooked resulting in devastating effects on our children and our culture.
With that being said, to be at this hotel relates directly with those statistics on marriage in America. We were on a “Vision Retreat”. This is an educational app to guide couples in finding success in marriage! Personally, we did find ourselves walking in the valley headed for divorce. BUT, after discovering the Godly teaching of Jimmy Evans and the Marriage Today ministry, we are hand-in-hand emerging from that dark time as a united couple strengthened, yet humbled in God’s goodness. We are under no illusions that we have “arrived” at a perfect marriage, by the way. Ha!! Nope, the only perfect human was Jesus. What we are learning is more about grace, forgiveness and the importance of seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance & power in our lives, both individually and then as a couple.
How did we get to the place we are now? Our journey to saving our marriage began with the audio series, “Marriage on the Rock”. We followed that up with books, podcasts and additional DVD teachings all from Jimmy Evans... honestly, there have been few days in the last 18 months without his voice pouring into our ears, hearts, and spirits. To get where we are now required an intentional choice to be teachable. With that, we made solid Biblically based teaching a part of our everyday. With all of this being said, it is possible that one might be tempted to judge holding a man higher than the Lord. To that, I will confidently reply that Pastor Jimmy is a gifted presenter of the truths contained within the living Word of God, specifically on the subject of relationships - to God be the glory for his study and passion to spread it around the world. If your body were over-run with a dreaded disease, you would seek out the best physician for treatment. Similarly, if your marriage is in need of rescue, it is only within wisdom to do the same.
Back now to Saturday night in the hotel lobby, both my husband and I jumped up to meet, as you have already suspected, world-renowned Pastor Jimmy Evans. We were here at this hotel to work on our “Vision Retreat”, an app he made to help couples seek God’s purpose for marriage! We shook hands and introduced ourselves and shared why we were there. He smiled genuinely and his face lit up hearing this. Remember now, what I mentioned earlier about our conversation at the moment Troy stopped mid-sentence… how God has something big planned for our future... well, I believe this impromptu meeting between Pastor Jimmy and us was no coincidence. In our meeting, I had the opportunity to ask some specific questions about his ministry that the Holy Spirit has put in my heart for months. I got the answer and it has potential to lead me/us into something big in the future. Only God can arrange amazing moments like this – HE knew we were at the wrong hotel!
~ divine appointment noted :)
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9