A great delight of being a minister is watching a relationship grow into a wonderful romance. Often the pastor is the first to recognize the signs, even before the couple realizes it.
My wife and I play a little game to see which of us can predict how long it will take for a couple to realize they are a couple. My wife is better at this than I and to date I owe her $17 million.
Actually, the only romantic things about me are my ‘‘love-handles,'' which is why I have spent so much energy developing them over the years.
It is not that men are less romantic than women are; they just have different ideas of romance.
For most women, romance is flowers and candy in heart-shaped boxes.
For men it is a Big Mac with fries and a soda — and SUPER SIZE it, please.
Why are women so complicated and men so simple? Err, did I say that right?
If it were not for women, romance would have died a long time ago.
Hollywood tries to define romance for us, but their idea of romance is raw sex and lurid lust. Hollywood would not know romance if it nibbled on their ears.
Romance is not a fling in the spring, but a lifelong relationship, experiencing all the ups and downs of life — together.
There is no picture quite as refreshing as a couple still together after all those years of turmoil and temerity. The easiest thing in all the world is to fall in love for a few years and then, when it gets difficult, bale out. What kind of romance is that?
Ah, but to see a couple married for 50 years or more — now that is the epitome of real romance.
I'll have you know that romance has not been a stranger at the parsonage. I met my wife (actually, she wasn't my wife then) when I went away to Bible college in 1970.
At the time, I was functionally romance-challenged (it was more dysfunctional). Before I left home for college, I prayed for a wife. I had the good sense to know a minister needs a good wife to support him in the ministry.
The Christian ministry is really a joint affair, although the pastor's wife does not always get the recognition she rightfully deserves.
I prayed something like this, ‘‘God, I need a good wife and I don't know how to go about it. Let the first single girl I meet at Bible college be the wife of your choosing."
Now, I know this is a crazy and dangerous prayer to make. Some would take the high road of romance but I took the lowly road of prayer. I may have been a bit desperate, but nobody could doubt my earnestness. I also figured prayer was a lot cheaper than dating.
Nevertheless, I prayed for a wife.
My parents took me to the college, which was some 500 miles from home. I remembered my prayer and wondered just how God would answer. As we pulled into the men's dorm, I figured I was safe. I planned to avoid all contact with the opposite sex as long as possible.
But just as we pulled into the parking lot, a young woman exited from the men's dorm. Remembering my prayer, I immediately amended it. ‘‘God, this doesn't count. I've not stepped out of the car yet.''
Have you ever noticed that God has a marvelous sense of humor?
The young woman emerging from the men's dorm defied description. Do you remember when women rolled their hair in big rollers? Well, this young woman had rolled her hair in tomato cans! Nothing prepared me for such a sight. She actually looked like some space alien. (Beam me up, Scottie.)
I do not know what she was wearing or even what she looked like. All I could see were those tomato cans on her head. At the time, I did not know much about romance, but I knew this was not it.
Classes were not to begin for several days and she and the dorm parents were friends. She was visiting them just as I arrived at the dorm.
The next few days I did everything to avoid the women's dorm for fear I would run into her.
Whenever I did see her, I crossed to the other side of the street. But the more I tried to avoid her, the more I ran into her.
I thought I was making progress in my plan of avoidance. Then, the inevitable happened.
One week after arrival, my roommate invited me to come along with him and his girlfriend to a restaurant. Being neurotic and naive, I said, ‘‘Sure, I'd love to come along.'' After all, I had nothing else to do and it seemed like some fun.
When my roommate went to the women's dorm to pick up his girlfriend, who do you suppose was standing with his girlfriend waiting?
That's right. The young woman with the tin cans on her head.
Would you believe it? The young woman with the tin cans turned out to be the sister of my roommate.
It was a whirlwind romance. I met her
in September and in February, she asked me to marry her. In August I found myself at a church altar mumbling, ‘‘I do.''
The Bible makes this promise: ‘‘Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22 KJV.)