20 Years Ago, My Family Was Born…
This season marks the 20th Anniversary of the season of definition that would give birth to my marriage and ultimately my family. I could not imagine what my life and family would look like today without August, September, October, and November 1999.
Carrie and I were dating in August 1999 when we both moved away from home in Mingo County. She moved to North Carolina, where she started a new job and settled into a new life with her family there in East Bend, NC. I moved to Cleveland, TN to begin my Seminary education at the Church of God School of Theology. During my first week there in Cleveland in late August, she decided that she no longer wanted to maintain a long-distance relationship. Our relationship of almost three and a half years ended that night. I didn’t realize it immediately, but my life for the remainder of 1999 would be wrecked! As I sought God to recover from the pain of the ended relationship, I got a clear Word from heaven that it was NOT over. I was called to pray!
I had never known true intercession, you know the kind of intercession that bears a burden in prayer every day. I literally wept the entirety of September and October 1999. I wept and prayed and wept and prayed every day, mostly in the shower, where snot is easier to deal with, ya know? As this season of prayer lingered on, God began to speak to me about future plans. It’s interesting how closely related the Hebrew words are for “wilderness” and “to speak.” It’s just like God to move his children to the wilderness and then begin to speak to them there. As I followed Him, I began to make plans for a May wedding! We always wanted to get married on May 19, the day I asked her to date me. Yes, you read that correctly! In the midst of this season of great pain in intercession, there in Cleveland, TN, I began to pray and make preparations to be a husband.
I had always wanted to kinda know where I was going before I got married, but here I was walking by faith, because trust me when I say, “I could see NOTHING clearly!” We weren’t even dating, we were 5 hours apart and our lives seemed to be moving further apart than the 5 hours and 300 miles. God, however, knows how to overcome the miles and circumstances and give birth to something new out of the impossible! To show the Lord that I had faith, I sent her 7 peach roses on October 19 as a sign of the fact that there were 7 months until May 19. I thought it was a great idea! She didn’t really think so, but stood firm on her decision to move on. Paul says, “Love suffers long…” and sometimes we have to wait on God’s process, but Paul assures us that “love never fails!”
In November 1999, the Spiritual nature of what I had been carrying for more than 2 months began to change. I encountered a moment that seemed to be a tipping point. I had had enough of all the pain and really began to cry out to be removed from the burden of it all. I couldn’t see any fruit from my labors and constantly battled in my mind to what was really true. Was it over? Was it not? I just didn’t really know! This is why trusting God is so important. He knows and most often, we do not! One day, all of a sudden, the weight inside me began to lighten and the burden became more bearable. I began to take my first steps to my new life in Cleveland without her, thinking, “Maybe, I was wrong and it’s really over!”
I had been asked to preach my first sermon in late November and I was making preparations to preach at my home church in Delbarton. On the day that I left to return home to visit for the weekend and preach my first sermon on the “Comfort Zone” of all things, I received a phone call from Carrie that revealed a very different Carrie than the one I spoke with during this season of great pain. She had been very adamant that the relationship was over, and then during this phone call, she was different. If I hadn’t have returned into the house to get one last thing before leaving for Mingo, I wouldn’t even have received the call. But during the call, I told her I had to go, we were leaving for home. “Like Williamson-home?” she asked. “Yes, I will be preaching my first sermon this Sunday,” I said. “You are preaching on Sunday morning at Church?” “Yes, Kevin (my roommate) is in the car waiting for me, I have to go,” I said, not wanting to speak with her. I was done with the pain, know what I mean! She responded, “I’m coming home too.” If I wasn’t confused before this moment, I was now!
The weekend went great, but I returned to Cleveland seeking clarity from the Lord. Now, I really needed to know His Will! As with the preceding months, He showed Himself very close to me and confirmed what I had been hearing for more than 2 months. I was so thankful to get a clear “Yes” that the season I had suffered had now yielded a harvest. At 12:55 AM on January 1, 2000, I asked Carrie to be my wife! SHE SAID YES! and my family was born!