I was seventeen and had a summer job at a golf course. There was a new guy, a nineteen-year-old, who had just completed his freshman year of college. He was really nice and really cute and really funny and really smart and I could go on and on and on. We had a ton in common and could talk as easily as old friends. It wasn’t long before I had developed a crush. The only thing that we didn’t have in common was the most important thing in my life– faith.
It wasn’t like He didn’t know who God was. He knew of God he just didn’t know God. It wasn’t like the ground of his heart hadn’t been primed for planting. It wasn’t like he wasn’t searching. I could tell that he was right there on the brink of finding Jesus, like he had a blindfold on and was walking with his hands outstretched getting warmer, warmer…
I liked this boy a lot and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop myself from getting my hopes up that he was interested in me. I repeated to myself all of the youth group lessons that I had committed to memory, you know the ones about not being unequally yoked and how gravity naturally pulls down (all good advice). I remembered all of the warning tales about good girls who went bad when they dated non-believers and prayed that the Lord wouldn’t let me give in to my flesh. I prayed and prayed and prayed that my heart would turn away from this boy who was good in every way but one, in my opinion.
A funny thing happened though. The more I prayed the more my heart was drawn to this boy. My feelings grew deeper and every time I was around him, something tugged on my heart. Something about him drew me and it was deeper than attraction or a summer crush. I couldn’t reconcile it all. I had grown up in the church and had never had a boyfriend all in the effort of protecting my heart, my purity, my witness. I had never ever, ever even let myself consider being in a relationship with a non-believer and then there was this. A crush I couldn’t shake on a boy who wasn’t sold out for Jesus.
I desperately sought the Lord praying for wisdom and that He would turn my heart away but He never did. I couldn’t figure it out at the time, but now I know. God will never turn the hearts of His people away from the lost. Never. Ever. Ever.
At the end of that summer, the one consumed by butterflies in my stomach and doubt in my mind, I went with my youth group to the Desperation Conference. It was an amazing weekend full of encounters with God like I hadn’t known before. And still, this boy was on my mind. I was desperate for something to change. All summer I had prayed for the feelings to go away but it finally occurred to me that maybe I was praying the wrong prayer. Instead of praying for the Lord to change my heart, I would pray that the Lord would change his.
So I did. I will never forget the fervency of the prayers that I prayed in that moment. I prayed for the heart of this boy to be turned towards the Lord. That He would be passionately in love with Jesus and that one day, I would see him worship God in spirit and in truth in a place just like that. And in that moment, my crush for that boy turned ever so slightly into a passion for him and who he would become.
Today, as I stood in church I remembered that nineteen-year-old boy, the one I couldn’t make my heart forget. The one who had a crush on me too but who I told that we could never be much more unless he loved Jesus. I remembered those prayers that I prayed for him and the tears that fell down my cheeks in desperation for his heart to be mine and the Lord’s all at the same time. Then, I looked over and saw the man standing next to me, the man who holds my heart and points it to Jesus. The man that leads our family in a Godly way, that prays for my heart every day and that loves Jesus more than he loves me. The one who’s name I share and who’s ring I wear. I looked over and saw that same nineteen-year-old boy grown into a man, the embodiment of my prayers come true.
Every time I look at my husband I’m reminded that God’s plans are not our own. They’re far better. His ways are not what we expect but it’s in the nuances of His plan, that miracles are found. The gift of my husband is manifold because while I fell in love with him I fell in love with my Savior all over again. I watched as my husband’s faith blossomed and grew so fast it seemed that Jack had planted one of his magic beans in Scott’s heart. His love for the Lord towers and climbs continually and I get to look up and see it.
My husband, Scott.
Credit Melissa Yocum Photography
God draws our hearts to those that need Him. Don’t miss that tug that pulls you towards those that are searching and when you feel it, pray for them relentlessly. If you are praying right now for someone to fall in love with Jesus, don’t stop, don’t pull away from them, don’t give up. Love them continually and pray for them constantly. Let the Lord guide your conversations and interactions with them and trust that He is working on all involved. Heed the wisdom provided in the Bible about not being unequally yoked in your relationships, romantic and otherwise, but don’t write off the people that God has brought into your life because they don’t believe what you do. Instead of praying for the strength to hold them at arms length, pray that they would stop holding Jesus at arms length. Pray that your hearts would be brought even closer than they already are through a shared love of Jesus and until that happens, seek the Lord on your behalf and theirs.
Let the names of those you love echo in Heaven through your prayers. Don’t stop until their hearts belong to the One that made them and let yours fall more in love with Him in the process. It’ll be more than a crush. I promise.