Monte Strickland shared today from Acts 17:24-28 that God sets up EVERYTHING EXACTLY so people have an opportunity to connect with God, and also in Ecc 3:9-14  that the gift God has given to us, is to eat, drink, work, and fulfill ourselves in life. However, if we don’t fear God, he can make this a blessing or a curse. We need to have a reverent desire to submit to God with the attitude of “he’s the king and we’re the servants…”

So 2 weeks ago I shared about my first girlfriend in 6th grade, Cyndee Pooley, and how that experience sparked a new faith. I’ve had several experiences with young love that have molded me. I lived in Northern New Jersey in the 70s and early 80s. Lake Hopatcong is the largest lake in NJ and during the summer months most would go to the beach. We belonged to a “beach club” as most didn’t have lakefront property and had to commute several blocks to swim.  In the summer before going into 8th grade, I saw her for the first time laying out in the sun. Her name was Lisa and she was visiting her older sister’s family, from about an hour away, while school was out. Without all the details, we were inseparable for the next 6 summers and even some holidays when she visited. Lisa was 2 years younger than me, but being the youngest of a very large Italian family, made her way more mature than most girls my own age. She was beautiful, smart, and a popular cheerleader, and somehow, Lisa liked me. We grew up through our pubescent years without computers, texting, or cell phones. We were writing letters to each other and occasionally our parents would let us make an expensive land line, long-distance phone call. Towards the middle of Lisa’s High School years and my early college years, we became more intimate. We spoke of marriage and our future together, however a couple of months after her senior year began, she shared that she wanted to experience high school for the first time without a boyfriend. I was crushed, and so much so, after trying to change her mind, I permanently moved 3,000 miles away to start a fashion magazine with my best friend in San Diego.  A few weeks later, she called crying and shockingly asked me to come back to NJ and get back together. I was excited, but out of finances from the move. I told her if she still felt the same way in another month, I’d save up enough money to come back. After months passed and not hearing from her again, I resigned myself to the fact that we both were permanently moving on with our new lives.  I believe they call that ghosting now.    

Fast forward 5 years later… I’ve given complete ownership of Style Magazine to my ex-friend and business partner, and I now have a stable sales management career at the Los Angeles Times. I have a new apartment, truck, and income. I unexpectedly received a letter from Lisa asking to see me when she came to visit California. I wrote back the same day and eagerly agreed. I planned a very romantic evening and recorded a mix tape of our old favorite songs. When I picked her up at the hotel, she looked the same, but only several minutes after meeting, I could tell this wasn’t going to turn out as I expected. Over the next 2 hours, it felt like she couldn’t remember one good thing about our romance over the years. In fact, she shared how I negatively impacted her life and how she was influenced by me to grow up too quickly. I couldn’t remember anything imperfect about our time together. I’m pretty sure I was too prideful to even apologize, even though i knew it was how she was feeling.  At the time I was disappointed, but shrugged it off like a bad blind date and moved on, never to really dwell on it. 

Many years later, married with kids, I was spiritually challenged to take my belief/faith to the next level and study the Bible to find out why God was calling me. During the next several weeks of reading and looking more deeply at God’s plan for our lives, I started to see these old relationships, including the one with Lisa, with a different attitude. For the first time, I actually felt remorse for the way I made her feel and how callously/pridefully I reacted to that failed meeting in San Diego. I tried finding her to appropriately apologize. I sent letters to old addresses hoping to hear back, but did not. I hope a letter found her. 

I learned that our old, and new sins effect others far more than we realize. It’s like a meteorite crashing, where the impact is obvious but shards from that impact can be found even miles away. Monte concluded today that in Rom 12:2, that when we renew our minds, Gods perfect and pleasing will, transforms us to a new creation he approves of. God’s will has transformed me. I believe that the romance with Lisa and that failed reunion molded me, and was an example of how God sets up EVERYTHING EXACTLY so that we change.