My husband and I met each other in Hawaii when we were only thirteen and fifteen years old. I fell “in love” with him. Nowadays my husband mostly goes by the name Alex, but not back then. He was Tito. He was soft spoken, mysterious, generous, and (dare I say) romantic. (Now with kids of our own, I see why my dad was up in arms.) Tito was athletic and courteous, a good listener and friend. Above all, he was trustworthy and dependable. All the things I needed at that point in my life. I wanted to follow him wherever he went.
Our time together was cut short after my parents divorced. I moved to New Jersey. He later moved back to Panama, the country where he was from. There was no following him home. The fact that our paths had ever crossed in the first place was amazing. We had one short year together and that year was like a small rock being thrown into the lake of destiny, leaving ripples that would never end.
Fast forward six years. I sat watching a show on “long lost loves.” Something inside me stirred and I thought, “I’ve got to find him.” I searched the internet for what felt like hours and finally found a profile that sounded like it could be him. I was not sure that it was, so I sent an email saying, “If this is you please write me back.” He did.
Only four weeks later, I had moved out of my father’s house and traveled all the way across the country to follow him. When I moved to be with him, it was not working. I wanted to get married. He did not. I was serious. He was not. We were barely getting by and things were going from bad to worse. Then God sent an angel.
Now whether this woman was truly an angel, we will never know. But to me she always will be. One night, when we were visiting friends, Tito had gone out to play tennis with a buddy. Hours had passed and he still wasn’t back. I was irritated and so I took off to go looking for him.
I could see him slowly walking toward me in the glow of the street lights. I was mad. As he got closer I started my verbal onslaught, “Where were you!? His answer, “I was in a woman’s car.” “What!?” I snapped back. “What do you mean, you were in a car with a woman?” He looked the least bit fazed by my fury. “Relax, she was old,” he replied. “That doesn’t matter! She could of had a gun!” I retorted. In a perfectly clam voice he said to me, “You have no idea what happened tonight. I don’t want to talk right now.” My mind was racing. He was acting strange and somewhat distant. What could have happened? All I knew is he had been gone for a long time. It was late and he had confessed to being in the car of an older woman. Was I about to be dumped for some older woman?
I could tell something had happened to Alex. His entire persona was different. He had a calmness and certainty about him that was unusual for his character to say the least.
We walked in silence back to our car. We sat in silence for a few minutes. Looking straight ahead he began talking in a slow quite voice, “Something happened tonight. I was playing tennis. Jared (who he had been playing with) got tired so he left. Since I got beat so bad I thought I’d hang around and practice my serve. Then I saw this older lady come out of a white car. She came up to the tennis court and just stood there watching me. At one point she yelled, ‘Nice serve!’ I said, ‘Thanks… (he then mumbled in a low voice) crazy lady.’ She stood there for so long that I thought either she had to leave or I was going to leave. Then I hit a ball that flew right out of the court and it landed right by her feet. She picked it up and walked it straight to me. She handed me the ball and said, ‘I am here tonight because you have a divine appointment. God has his hands on you and he wants you.’”
He proceeded to tell me that the woman had told him every thing about himself that no one could know. She told him that the Lord told her to go to a certain tennis court because there was someone there that the Lord wanted her to speak to. She asked him why he wasn’t married and told him he needed to be and asked him into her car to pray for him and read to him something from her Bible. He repented. He asked Jesus to be his Lord. He prayed to receive the Holy Spirit. Then she was gone.
He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Charity, I have decided to give my life to the Lord. You are either on the boat or you can pack your bags and go back home.” I remember thinking, “What a relief! I am not getting dumped! I just had to give my life to give my life to Jesus, whatever that means. I can do that.” He then continued, “On Monday, we are going to go down to the courthouse and get married.” I thought, “Woo hoo! Double bonus! Not only am I not getting dumped, we are finally getting married! Following this Jesus is already looking like a pretty great deal!” That night I decided to allow Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life. Alex led me in the same prayer that the woman had prayed with him.
We were young. We were broke. We were not done our schooling. We did not have established careers. We had no plan other than to follow the Lord and that is what mattered most. Over the past ten years our love and our family has grown larger than I could have ever expected. Time and time again we have had to change our plans. We have been blessed by God because we have continued to stick to the only plan and purpose that never fails, “Follow Him.”
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. -Proverbs 19:21