Back in the 1978 Auburn University was on the quarter system. As the summer heat withered leaves to a crisp, fall quarter wasn’t the only thing about to bloom. I had been invited to an open house at the church’s Student Center where there was free food and a chance to meet some new people. (I have to admit the free food was probably the biggest draw for most of us.) After meeting, greeting, and eating, as I made my way toward the door I spotted two guys across the room. A voice inside me whispered, “You’ve not yet met those two. Go over and say hello.” So I did. I told them my name and found out they were roommates from a small town called Grant. I asked the tall one if Grant was in Alabama. He smiled and said it was. Then the pitch of his voice rose as he said, “Donna Roberts …” as if trying to place me. “Are you the one I heard about who plays racquetball?” I admitted I played a little, and then came the greatest pick-up line of all time: “I’ve always wanted to learn to play racquetball.” I took the bait – hook, line, and sinker.
He arrived at the racquetball court wearing a DAR tennis shirt, so I asked what Dar meant. He laughed and said, “It’s not Dar, it’s DAR. It stands for the Daughters of the American Revolution. It’s the name of the school I went to in Grant.” I acted like I knew what the Daughters of the American Revolution was, and went on with racquetball lesson #1. We went on our first date the following weekend, got engaged a month later, and married eight months after that on June 23, 1979!! Happy anniversary, Ron!
As I made my way across that Student Center to meet those two guys, little did I realize I was about to meet “the one” chosen for me. When I discovered Grant was actually in Alabama I never imagined it would be my home for the last 35 years. After teaching at DAR for 20 years, I know more about the Daughters of the American Revolution than the average American; that’s for sure! And that whisper I heard? Oh, that whisper is the most exciting part of this story! I know now that it was the sweet, sweet Holy Spirit who introduced me to the man who would love me, protect me, provide for me, and grow up with me.
It’s that same Spirit who continues to hold us together through the good and, most especially, the terrible times. It’s that sweet Spirit who kept our nose buried deeper than ever in God’s word for the last five years, convicting and refining us. The transformation I’ve been blessed to witness in Ron has inspired me to let God have the reins to create a clean heart in me. However, don’t think for a minute that it’s been all ice cream and cake, or that we think we have it all together. There have been times we’ve both wanted to sweep the feet out from under the other one, but God … God’s grace continues to teach us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:12). Learning more about God’s grace encourages us, gives us hope, and opens our eyes to the needs and hurts of others (2 Thess. 2:16-17). We had it wrong for so many years. Our motivation had been our performance for God rather than His performance through us. We thought if we did all the right things exactly the right way, we would be in good standing with God. That’s when God allowed a few mighty hammers to fall hard on us showing us how wrong we had been. We’ve slithered out from underneath the hammer now, and instead of using our own power to stand us back up, the Spirit has energized us right out of our shoes. Grace has granted us freedom!
Thankfully, after much soul searching and surrendering, Ron and I are moving into a new season. Neither of us has found the words to adequately express our newfound feeling of freedom and enthusiasm for following the Spirit on this incredible adventure. I’m trusting the Spirit will provide those words in His own good time. For now, we are hearing a voice whispering to us that says, “You’ve not yet met those two. Go over and say hello. And tell them about Me.”
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15, NIV