It was the beginning of the year 1999 when I had just graduated from the City Harvest School of Theology, Singapore the year before. It happened in my annual retreat with God, where I made it my practice to seek God for the direction for the year ahead.
Almost without fail, God would speak to me through an impression of what I could expect and He would give me a verse from the Bible (a rhema word, in Greek meaning the spoken word of God) that I could hang on to or rather, the Word would hold on to me. This Word would help me ride through the storms of that year and gave me strength to wait, to battle and eventually to see victory. In the year 1999, it was no different – God spoke. However, the word He gave me was not just for that year but it has set the course for my life and it became the very reason why this blog existed and how the WOW31 Ministry came about.
I was at a hotel balcony somewhere in Malaysia and was reading the Bible and communicating with God at the same time. I had just given 10 months of my life, put my career on a near standstill so that I can go to Bible School and obey God to be prepared. I did not fully understand what I was preparing myself for except to know the Word better, to learn to live by faith and to minister better as a ministry leader. Now that I have done that, I was seeking God for the next season of my life. At that moment, I was prompted to go to Proverbs 31. I have read this passage many times as a Christian but it had never really captured my attention. To me, it was a mother lecturing his son on the wife that he should marry. But this time around, it was different.
The verses came alive as I read and I felt as if God Himself was speaking to me. I felt God specifically single out the following verses in Proverbs 31 –
Verse 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.
Verse29~31 Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates
Through that encounter, I knew clearly 2 things that God has promised me:
1. The year 1999 will be a prosperous year for me in my work (despite the recession)
2. There is a relationship coming and he is a leader in the house of God (he is known in the gates)
With the Promises, I stepped into the year with much confidence and excitement. The first promise of success at work came quickly. Despite the recession, I was hitting my performance target with incredible ease. I used to have to strive to achieve my results. But that year, I felt the favor and the grace in my business and in 9 months, I accomplished what usually took a year for me to achieve, while many around me failed to perform because of the economy downturn.
Nonetheless, the second Promise of that relationship was nowhere in sight. I was starting to doubt if this was ever going to happen. I began to wonder if God had actually given me that promise or was it my imagination because I have the ‘urge for a merge’, as my Senior Pastor often joked over the pulpit.
I was almost sure that I must have been mistaken until something strange started to happen. It all began in December 1999, after a Christmas service when I was having coffee with a friend, and this couple who used to be in my cell group saw me and walked up to me and told me something that was totally ludicrous. This is what he said, “ Hi Susan, there is a rumor out in church saying that you and Pastor Derek are getting together in a relationship! Is it true?”.
I was utterly astonished and speechless. Although I had already known Derek for four years by then, our relationship was only ministry-based. He was my cell group leader while I was a member. He then became a Pastor and I was raised up as a cell group leader under him.
Even though we worked closely within the ministry but we have never interacted at a personal level beyond the ministry except for the occasional group fellowship with fellow leaders. Hence for me, this rumor was absolutely incredulous and I could only think that they must have gotten the wrong girl! However, what followed after that 1st episode just got stranger and stranger…
For the next 6 months, every weekend there would be someone who will come to me and say “ I heard a rumor about you and Derek…”. I was getting perturbed as the weeks go by but I was also beginning to suspect that he might be the “man by the gates”.
I must admit that I was totally nervous thinking of the possibility of marrying a Pastor. It was not something I have meditated on and to me Pastors usually only marry full time church workers. I was also worried that if he is not ‘the one’ then I might be carried away by the fantasy of this possibility. I decided to go back to my prayer closet and get some answers from The One who has all the answers.
It was a weekday afternoon and I decided to make good use of my down time to seek the Lord. The church was opened in the afternoons for members who wanted a place to seek the Lord on their own, to pray. The worship songs were playing in the background and the presence of God was tangible. I began to pray and ask God what in the world is going on. Am I going nuts? Is this a joke? Or maybe this is a big mistake?
At that instance, I saw in my spirit the word “Ephesians 3:20”. I did not really know this verse at that point in time. I decided to check it up and this is what God said…
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…
That word from the Lord settled the matter in my heart. I reminded myself that if this is from the Lord then He will be the author and the finisher of my faith and it will be a miracle from the beginning to the end. Hence, I watched and I prayed and the whole time, I kept my mouth shut and told no one what I knew was going on.
The Word Became A Reality
By May 2000, the rumor had gone on for more than 6 months. Suddenly, Derek started to call me and invited me out for movies and meals alone. We started communicating on a deeper level and before I knew it, a special relationship had blossomed. During this time, I continued to keep my mouth shut of what I felt God was doing. However, witnessing what God had spoken of progressively becoming a reality was breathtaking and the process held me in awe the whole time. I kind of enjoyed it. It was like a secret I shared with my God.
In July 2000, barely two months into this relationship, we officially made the relationship exclusive and announced it to all our friends. It happened at a special dinner event at a hotel organized by our church. We were seated at different tables – he was with the Pastors and I was seated among my church friends. Suddenly Derek walked over and in front of everybody invited me to be seated next to him. All eyes were tracing our walk to his table and I knew I would be bombarded with mountains of questions after the dinner. At the table, he asked me for permission to announce to the leaders that we are going exclusive and I said “Yes!”
While going home in the car that night, I knew it was time to clarify about the rumor. He was totally shocked to hear that such a rumor has been going around for 6 months! He thought for a while and it dawned on him that there was a conversation he had with his Pastor about getting into a relationship and he mentioned my name to his Pastor. Apparently, some people overheard some parts of the conversation, distorted it and started a rumor that travelled through the grapevine. We both had a hearty laugh that night and I went home thinking that God does have a sense of humor but most of all God was so kind to “start” this rumor so that I know what I heard from Him about Proverbs 31 was not wrong but it was a reality that has yet to come.
1 Corinthian 2:9
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Are you a lady in preparation and you have not seen His promise becoming a reality yet?
Do not fret because God is always at work and He will make all things beautiful in its time.
Always remember this – WHEN YOU HAVE YET TO SEE HIS HANDS, TRUST HIS HEART (FOR YOU)!
My final article (The Prize) in this series of ‘God is my Matchmaker’ will be out on this coming week for Valentines’ Day. Catch a video clip of my wedding and the exchanging of vows from October 2001 right here on this blog!