It was one of the defining moments in my life.
In January of 1997 I returned to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary after taking off a semester. The previous fall, I wrote a young lady that I knew from college, expressing the desire to pursue a relationship with her. I waited for several months for her reply.
The first week of January I asked the Lord to give me a word from the Scriptures to cling to in the coming weeks, one that would be a milepost for that new season of life. On January 4 I wrote down Isaiah 42:16 in my journal,
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do;I will not forsake them.
For three weeks I memorized and meditated on that promise, trusting God to do those things for me. The weekend of January 26, I visited my uncle and his family in Cincinnati, Ohio. On Sunday morning, when I walked into the Sunday School room at their church, I immediately noticed a bright orange banner along the wall with Isaiah 50:7 painted across:
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
The Lord put a check in my spirit at that moment. A check is when the Holy Spirit alerts you on the inside as if to say, "Listen up. I am speaking. I have something for you here." I made a mental note of the Bible verse and wrote it down.
That night I drove back to Louisville and checked my campus mailbox when I arrived. Inside was a note from the girl I had written in the fall. Sitting down on my blue love seat in my small dorm room, I read the letter. She kindly and respectfully turned me down and told me that she did not think we had a future together. She also told me, "Since I received your letter in the fall, I have been praying two Bible verses for you: Isaiah 42:16 and Isaiah 50:7."
I was stunned. The refusal from the young lady really did not phase me. It was one of those moments when you feel, "Well, this is not what is best for me, so thank God." The reality, however, of how the Lord spoke to me through those specific verses overwhelmed me. I later learned that such an experience is what Robert Clinton calls a "double word confirmation" in his book The Making of a Leader.
Taking my Bible, I walked across campus to a grassy hill that looks out at the library. Time seemed to stand still as I sensed I was in God's presence. Submitting my life to Him afresh, I asked Him to have His way with me in the coming days.
That was Sunday night. On Friday night, I met the woman of my dreams - the one I would marry.