The Obvious One

After her nurse's training, while living in a Navigators home, Helen became engaged to a Christian man, but she had no peace. The Holy Spirit spoke to her: "Take off the ring:" It was difficult, but she obeyed. "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26), she pledged as she committed herself totally to God. "Lord, I'm completely Yours. I'll do as You choose."

After graduation Helen found work in Seattle and attended a Brethren assembly, where she learned still more about waiting on God for His leading. A fear of missionary service was growing within her, yet she was afraid to disobey God. If I don't do what He wants me to do, He will withdraw blessing from my life, and I'll have nothing.

She still was certain of the missionary call but felt inadequate. She was afraid to meet missionaries, thinking they would see through her and recognize that she could never qualify for missionary service. At twenty-two, other matters troubled her, too. She worried about being single, about missing out on romance. She wanted to have a Christian husband-a marriage approved by God.

The realities of life interrupted her dreaming. Her mother had a stroke, and Helen went home to care for her. Another Christian man came into her life. Again she had no assurance that he was the one.

"Twice I've been sidetracked from doing Your will by my longing for romance. Today I vow that I will not date anybody for a whole year so that I can concentrate on preparing for the mission field." She put it in her little notebook and added "unless You bring someone into my life so obviously that not to see him would be disobedience."

Soon afterward Helen met Dr. and Mrs. Dick Pitman of Wycliffe Bible Translators, who urged her to attend the Summer Institute of Linguistics in North Dakota, where they would be teaching. Helen applied, but Wycliffe wrote back requesting that she attend their linguistics program at Briercrest Bible Institute in western Canada.

But l want to go where my new friends are! Helen rebelled. The Lord again gave her what the Quakers call "a check from the Spirit:" Before she refused, she prayed. The answer was unmistakable.

"Maybe you'll find a nice young man up there," her mother suggested hopefully. She didn't want her dainty daughter going off to the wilds of a mission field without a man to take care of her.

"No, Mom, I am not going there to find a husband. I am going to study." And she set her heart and mind to do just that.

At Briercrest, in a class of only seventeen students, it was impossible not to notice the young man with the Dutch accent. After several weeks, Helen decided, "He is different!"

John hadn't overlooked the tiny American with the big brown eyes. She's the prettiest girl in the class. By the third week, concentrating on his studies was more difficult. Helen is to be my wife. Had God impressed this on him? John was confused. He had never dated, yet he had at times daydreamed about a small dark-haired girl-like Helen. Was this just his idea, or was the Lord really speaking to him? If Helen is to be my wife, God must have spoken to her also, he reasoned.

Helen was in bed, not yet asleep, when she became aware of the presence of the Lord. "I want John to be your husband:" The words were clear. She sat up in bed. "But, Lord, he's such a character!" And then the Presence was gone. Helen was awestruck that God had spoken about something so special to her.

"Why doesn't he speak to John?" She wondered when two weeks passed and John was not paying any attention to her. She knew the Bible said to "try the spirits:" So she prayed, "Lord, if this was You speaking to me, please give me one hour alone with John tomorrow:" She knew their days were fully scheduled. That was the day John decided he must get acquainted with Helen. After class he caught up with her and suggested a game of Ping-Pong before lunch. After the game, as they walked to the dining room, he asked, "Could I have one hour with you this afternoon?" Helen was stunned. One hour-today! It was exactly what she had prayed for! That afternoon, they walked on the prairie. "Helen, I have been strongly affectioned toward you in my heart," John announced in his Dutch accent. "It has been interfering with my studies. So I asked the Lord if it was not of Him, would He please take it away. And if it was of Him to give you the same conviction also."

"Oh yes, God told me that you are going to be my husband," Helen replied matter-of-factly. John was dumbfounded. For several moments he continued to chew on a straw, smiling speculatively at Helen.

"In that case, we'd better spend some time together!" He finally concluded. Students and faculty thought the idea was hilarious and teased them endlessly. "What an unlikely pair," they thought-and said. "I've never seen two persons more opposite in personality, temperament, and background. You will have many problems," a professor warned. In spite of counsel and clucking, Helen and John remained confident that the Lord had arranged it all.

Dekker, John (with Lois Neely). Torches of Joy. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 1985, 1999 p. 33-36.

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