Saturday, February 20, 2010


Grace- undeserved favor. Or so the theological dictionaries would have you believe.

I once knew a woman named Elizabeth. Not in the biblical sense. Elizabeth was a Christian of a few months standing and still had that new Christian glow about her. Very zealous, very likable.

And very attractive.

Elizabeth had just turned 19 when I started to get to know her. We went to the same college, were part of the same Bible Study group, and lived in dorms across the field from each other. One night I was asked to walk her home. Not a problem. Needed an excuse to get to know her anyway. One week turned into another. The next week I asked her to have dinner with me in the dorm dining hall. Soon after we spent a weekend walking and talking, and I found myself head over heels in love with this woman. I couldn't wait until I could give her my class ring, because, well, that's what geeks do when they have never had a girlfriend and didn't know the proper procedure in 1988. I sincerely thought she was the one.

She wasn't the one.

But I thought I could convince her otherwise.

Note to the lovesick: you can't convince someone to love you.

A couple of years later, after enduring my many efforts to monopolize her attention, she told me in no uncertain terms that we couldn't be friends. I made it too hard on her. She had a life, and while my friendship was part of it, it wasn't the whole thing, and in order to get me to finally figure that out, we needed a sabbatical from friendship.

I was crushed. Heartbroken. It took me a long time to get over her, especially after she started dating someone, but get over her I did. I didn't have contact with Elizabeth for 8 years.

In 1998 I was getting married. In an effort to share the news, and maximize the gift count, I sent her an invitation. She was happy to hear from me and overjoyed at my news. A couple of months after the ceremony she was our first dinner guest.

And that was it. Fences mended, bridges restored to pre-burned greatness.

I didn't hear from her for many years after that, but it didn't matter anymore. I had made amends, and that was my ultimate goal. We ended up connecting via Facebook, and got together for coffee 12 years after I served her roast beef at dinner. We talked about life, we talked about death, we talked about her father whose sickness would soon hasten his reunion with Jesus. I was struck with how her faith in Jesus had grown and thrived while others who had gone to college with us had fallen by the wayside. I was happy to count her among my close friends once again, but one question tugged on my shirtsleeve like a dirty orphan boy…

Why had no one married this wonderful woman?

I have known a lot of people who have mucked up a lot of relationships. I've seen people get married and divorced, some by their own fault, some by the fault of others. Some of us didn't deserve the opportunity we had been given. Maybe none of us deserve it; if we have a good marriage, it's by grace, that favor we are granted which is totally undeserved. We don't deserve to have someone pledge their lives to our love and protection. We don't deserve to have someone vow to honor us, love us, in sickness and in health, until death parts us.

Elizabeth deserves it.

Are you listening, Lord?

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


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