As our relationship progressed, so did the seasons.
We made our way through winter with Aqua Teen Hunger Force, contra dancing, and dreams of warmer weather.
Still, Joseph had his doubts. It was the one thing that stressed me out. It was such an important matter to me. I knew the command. Do not be unequally yoked. Besides that, I knew what I wanted out of my life. A non-believing husband wasn't in that picture. And a non-believing boyfriend could only become and non-believing husband or a non-believing ex boyfriend.
There was one night when it snowed that I couldn't get my car up the hill to my dorm, and I went back to Joseph's room when I was too tired to have walked back. I fell asleep in his bed by accident. Sort of. He sweetly took my shoes off and tucked me in.
The next morning I woke up panicking. I told him we couldn't do that. I didn't want us to be in a place where we were tempted to cross physical boundaries. Not that I really thought we would seein' as how I was conflicted about whether we should be one of those couples who doesn't kiss until the alter, or if it would be okay to kiss him if we were engaged. But I really didn't want to be that couple that wasn't even kissing, that other people assumed were probably doing more than kissing! I didn't want to look like a big fat lying hypocrite - especially if I wasn't even lying!
Bother. How did people do this relationship business anyway?
One thing was precious. Joseph wasn't the sort to pressure me in any way. "If you want to wait a year before we kiss, Sarah, I will wait! If you want to wait 3 years! I will wait!" He would proclaim.
Banjo once chuckled that Joseph had jokingly told him, "I will wait for her to kiss me if it takes 5 years! But after that, I'm goin' for it!"
When spring arrived again in all it's glory, we went hiking. We went on trips to Chattanooga and then on a trip to Boone so I could meet Joseph's old friends. They were a high-spirited lot.
By the time spring was nearing it's end, I was so stressed out over the thing where Joseph wasn't fully embracing my faith, I was starting to lose hair over it. I prayed and prayed and prayed.
Finally one afternoon, I threw up my hands.
"You can't force him to choose You! It is his choice through and through! So why do I pray for him?! Did I hear wrong, Lord? Am I not supposed to be with him?!"
Suddenly I knew something I hadn't thought of. God is the author of time. He could see if Joseph was going to choose Him in the end or not before He told me to be with him.
If that's really what He told me, that is. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe I was only supposed to tell Joseph my feelings for him but then not get into a relationship. I didn't know. Nothing made sense.
How I wished God had a cell phone.
All I knew was that if Joseph didn't choose Jesus, we would have to break up. I didn't believe in "missionary dating". In the meantime, it was comforting to know that God knew what the outcome would be. I felt peaceful about remaining in the relationship until further notice. To be honest, I believed that Joseph was going to have a resolute change of heart very soon.
It wasn't a few weeks after that when Joseph and I took off up the mountain for an afternoon picnic. We pulled off at an overlook with a jar of mandarin oranges (our joke was that my mandarin orange compartment is never full) and some string cheese and threw a blanket down.
After some lighthearted conversation and banter, I noticed that the sun wasn't quite so high in the sky anymore and yawned. I told Joseph that I would rather like a nap, and if he wanted to use that time to go for a walk or something, I wouldn't mind. He liked that idea. He said he wanted to spend some time with God.
So he got up and ambled off and I fell asleep almost immediately.
When I woke up, it was to Joseph jostling me and exclaiming, "I have to go get a notebook! I have to write this down!"
Confused, I rubbed my eyes and asked him to explain.
Joseph had responded well to some of my carefully worded stories of the supernatural. The freckle story, for instance. That one went over well with him. Sometimes, though, it had been too much for him.
"That heart shaped patch of snow is not God saying He loves us. There's no way. Doesn't it seem silly to think so?"
And I would argue, "All of His creation is Him saying that He loves us! Isn't it silly to exclude that perfect heart shaped patch of snow?!"
"Sounds far fetched, to me" he would say, shaking his head, "I can't imagine that if God is real, He is anywhere near that concerned with how we feel or what we think about Him."
I would just sigh.
This evening, though, that same Joseph's eyes were shining. He said he had walked to another overlook, where the mountains looked like the ocean. I know that one, it is so pretty there.
When he got there, he was still for a while. Finally he spoke. He said, "Jesus, if you came here... and gave Your life up for me... Then it only seems right that I should give up my life for You. I want to live for You."
He had been watching the sun set as he spoke. When the last word left his lips, the sun stopped going down. It then slowly began to come back up! It stopped again and rested for a moment right at the point where it cast perfect golden rays everywhere that Joseph could see. Then it went back down and continued on it's usual path.
Either it really happened, said Joseph, or it was a full out open vision.
We got in the car and made a beeline for the nearest note-book selling store. Joseph wanted to be sure to write down what all happened before the memory faded and he convinced himself that it was never so.
I was reassured.
No, God never forces us to choose Him. But He can and does pursue us. He woos us. He doesn't have to. But He does.