A Story of Romance

September 30th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 4: 23 (NLT)

23 Guard your heart above all else,
      for it determines the course of your life.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

It is an incredible coincidence, if not an eerie one, that today’s passage is Proverbs 4:23.  Why?  Well, because this is a verse that my wife, Laura, has shared and continues to share with young women throughout the course of our ministry together.  I cannot count the number of times that I’ve heard her give wise counsel to wondering, wayward, or wounded women by quoting this verse.  How appropriate then it is that we would reflect on this passage on the exact day of our eighth wedding anniversary.  

It was eight years ago today that I awoke with the dawn and quietly put on my tuxedo.  Sure, the wedding wasn’t until 2:00 pm, but I was restless and uncharacteristically anxious.  Leaving my family asleep in the hotel room, I silently made my way into the Sweetwater, Tennessee hotel pool area. Rolling up the pant legs of my rented tux, I let my feet soak in the warm bubbles of the jacuzzi. Sitting there alone, I had two things to read.  One of them was the paper where my vows were printed.  As a romantic gesture, in addition to writing our own vows, we decided to memorize them as well.  What were we thinking?  As a public speaker and musician, it had been many years since I had been significantly nervous. But on this morning, those beautiful vows just refused to stick in my head.

The other item I was reading was my Bible.  As I read God’s Word in that serene moment of solitude, I had much to reflect upon.  It had been almost almost two years since I first laid eyes on Laura Canada.  We met at a college retreat, both being members of our respective university’s Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship chapters.  She was at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tennessee.  I was some four hours away at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  Our paths crisscrossed in Nashville at a fall retreat.  I was leading worship at the event and she was . . . well, simply stunning.

I was just coming out of a fourteen-month relationship that ripped my heart out.  For the first time in a long time, I had decided not to date anyone and to just let God take the helm of my relational future.  I was deliberately staying single.  Two weeks after this decision was made, I met this gorgeous woman.  I could hear God laughing.  Our first introduction was fairly uneventful; I truly felt that she was out of my league.  But after the retreat, we began emailing each other and I began to believe that I might have a chance.

About a month later, she was home in East Tennessee for Christmas break and I was right in the middle of finals.  She called me to say hi and once I discovered that she was near, I mustered up the courage to ask her to dinner.  She accepted.  I swooned.  We never called it a date and I don’t remember every studying for my final the next day.

Our first dinner was at Ruby Tuesday.  In addition to her beauty, I was amazed at how brilliant she was!  We talked for hours and for the first time in my life, I didn’t finish my meal.  Yeah, I knew something was special about this girl.  Spiritually, she was solid.  We shared similar histories and seemed to agree on most of the majors.  Smart, spiritually mature, and beautiful . . . I was hooked.

But, that pesky little commitment I had made to trust my romantic future to God still lingered in my mind.  That night, we were supposed to go a movie, but we enjoyed talking so much that we drove around instead and chatted the night away.  We still love to drive and talk.  But at the end of what I thought was the best “non-date” of my life, Laura broke down and started crying. 

When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she just wanted to make sure that this connection we had was what God wanted and what would be best for our lives and ministries in the future.  I was floored!  Here I was seeking God for my future and I ran into my soul mate who was consequently seeking God for her future in exactly the same way.

Now, of course there was much more wisdom left to be sought and we didn’t get married the next day, but that moment in which we both trusted our hearts to God first was the key to finding God’s will for our lives.  Did we make some mistakes?  Sure we did.  Did we have much more to learn and work out?  Yep, we still do.  But I can humbly tell you that I found the love of my life when I entrusted my heart to God first.

There’s not enough time here to tell you the thousands of stories that marriage has given me.  Just know that this passage is essential to finding God’s will for any part of our lives . . . marriage otherwise.  Our hearts our the mouths of the rivers that flow from our inner beings– they must be guarded because they “determine the course of our lives.”

Two years later, I sat in that hotel reflecting on the time Laura and I had spent together.  The laughter.  The love.  The arguments.  Her miraculous recovery from a brain aneurysm.  Our engagement.  That afternoon, we pledged our love to each other for life.  We both botched up our vows pretty badly, but I’ve been told that our incorrectly recited vows were better than the originals.

Eight years later, I thank God every day that He gave me someone I could have never found on my own.  My relationship with her has more greatly affected the course of my life than anything else besides my relationship to God.  My heart is His first.  My life is riddled with mistakes, but make no mistake that I have entrusted my heart to a divine grace that is bigger than my shortcomings.  Bigger than my accomplishments.  Bigger than me.  

So, don’t trust your heart to just anyone . . . not even yourself.  Guard it and give its access to the only One who truly understands it.  Only He could give me the love of my life and eight years later, I’m the happiest married person I know.  Who owns your heart?



~ by johndriver on September 30, 2008.

7 Responses to “A Story of Romance”

  1. I’ve always wondered why we have such a hard time surrendering our future to the Almighty God, King and Creator of ALL of the Universe, The All Powerful, All Knowing One. Surely He knows way more about things that we do! 🙂

    Is it because we are control freaks?
    Maybe. But I think even the most expert “control freak” gives up after a while. It’s just too much work! It’s emotionally and physically taxing! So why is it? After giving it a lot of thought, it dawned on me that we don’t fully surrender because we don’t trust. We don’t trust that His plan for us is better than any plan or dream we have. We don’t trust that it will please us and that it won’t be as much “fun” as the one we have for ourselves.

    And the reason we don’t trust?
    It’s because we don’t fully know Him. The level or degree that we know God or even any other individual for that matter, is equal to the level of trust we have.

    Our hearts can be so deceitful. Our hearts will make decisions out of pride, insecurity, selfishness but it can also make decisions out of love, kindness and goodness. So yes, we must guard our heart. We must protect it. We need to let the Lord have full dominion and ownership of it.

  2. i absolutely love this verse. i think its one that everyone should live by. there would be a lot less heart break in the world if we could all learn to guard our hearts from things that are clearly not from God. this is something that ive really been working on because i know and understand that God only wants the best for me. HE has stolen my heart and i dont plan on taking it back:) i only hope that one day i’ll be able to experience the love that you and laura have for each other with the special guy that God has set aside for me.

    ~The ONE and ONLY senior girl in SHIft 122~
    *Kelsey Rae*

  3. I tend to get really annoyed with girls and guys who “go out” with eachother for like a week and already say “I love you”!! Man its just a pet peave of mine.Because half the time they don’t even know the person. I’ve been in 1 relationship my whole life and I’m still in it. But to say I have given that person my whole heart would be a lie. Because I haven’t.. God has my heart..He created it, its in His hands! And yes I can share or pour on SOME of my heart to my deepest and closest friends. But I never do all of it. I guess because I cant..Like its weird! I think because God owns me. Therefore He has my heart. I have to ask Him when I can share it and when I cant..Only He knows. And I’m going to trust His timing on my life.. I wrote a poem about a year ago of how your heart is like glass. You cant just let anyone touch it. Sure it may be beautful and painted. Or could be sharp around the edges. Most likely both. You gotta be careful! Because if your’e foolish you could be the one who gets cuts anf drops it, or stunned by the beauty and keeps it safe.

    I really enjoyed this one. :]


  4. Ohhhh my. I love this story! 😀 The verse is amazing too.

    I remember hearing this specific line from a service I heard before I came to Life Assembly and it went like this, “God has someone picked out specially for YOU! You just need to guard your heart and wait! Just think, somewhere, someone, is yours. He/She is (hopefully) sitting in a Church Service right now, possibly hearing this same talk. Waiting, for you, and wondering if you’re waiting too” ~That just freaks me out…im sorry, but I have so many quesitons about that. Like, what if i meet this “special person” and I don’t like him. What if he talks as much as me and we always interupt each other and argue constantly.. OR the total opposite happens what if he is like a hermit and doesn’t speak at all! What if I fall in love with the wrong person and then my “special peson” gets depressed (cause they never found me) and swears to never love again…
    I guess i’m just gonna put ALL my trust in God and wait wait wait. Thats all I can do..guard my heart & hopefully i’ll know “him” when i see him.. and then i can get married! 😀 i can’t wait! (well yeah i can cause i can’t get married right now.. i think thats illegal )

  5. Wow! Your story is an amazing one and it is a true testament what phenomenal things can happen when you give your whole heart to God. It’s ironic because Whitney and I have had a couple of conversations this past week that definitely coincide with the verse and what you have written. Thank you for being such a blessing to our kids and keep doing what you’re doing! Happy Anniversary!!!

  6. Teenage relationships are stupid.
    And that’s what I’ve decided:]
    We put our heart up for grabs and so easily do we give it to anyone who wants it.
    I’m convinced that the phrase, “it’s all fun and games–until somebody gets hurt” is directly speaking towards teenage relationships. To us, it’s all a game. Once somebody has had their fun, they want to move on to the next “game” and somebody DOES gets hurt.
    But all we have to blame is ourselves, really. This is why God wants us to guard our heart. He doesn’t want us to get hurt. He wants us to give Him allll of our heart and then one day he’ll give us our perfect match. I’m not targeting anybody by saying this and really, I’m not one for the “no boyfriends!” rule, but it’s becoming more clear to me how listening to God and the people he places around us to mentor us [like parents] is way better than trying to do things myself.

    Happy Anniversary!
    –Rachel Gomez

  7. Honestly, I have a really hard time guarding my heart. It’s so easy to get “caught up” in moments, and forget that something extremely valuable needs protecting. Where do we ask Jesus into? Our hearts! The heart is where the connection with God is, or where the relationship with him is. The relationship we have with God is the most important thing. When we are connected, your path will be straight, and you can see where the course of your life is going!

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