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This blog captures the musings and anecdotes of the daily life of a Malaysian who is now living in Melbourne, Australia.

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Keeping Your Heart: Gladys Hunt

Reserve your heart, for out of it springs the issues of Life (Proverbs).

God specialises in heart-keeping
GOD SPECIALISES IN HEART-KEEPING
by Gladys M. Hunt

"You'll never find a guy like that, Sis," my brother said late one night when we were having a session covering everything from goals in life to ideal marriage partners. I was home from college; he was on furlough from the Marines, and we were catching up on many new ideas the adventures of the past year had produced.

I admitted frankly my disappointment in so many of the fellows I met. They were nice guys, all right, but kind of "wimpy". I was referring to fellows with no backbone, no ideas, and worst of all, who let me run them. I naively declared that the man who could interest me would be someone with definite objectives arising from conviction; who was able to discipline his efforts in that direction. I'd be even more intrigued if he happened to like ideas and be somewhat clever. As the evening wore on I added more and more qualifications, until my brother gave up in despair. Who did I think I was, he wanted to know, the Queen of Sheba?

I realised the wishfulness of my thinking, but the high ideals I set for a husband proved to be important after all. God used them to keep me from many foolish entanglements that would have done little to benefit either my character or experience. It wasn't just men I was idealistic about, it was everything. I remember at thirteen writing in my journal, "Hitch your wagon to a star". The allusion was somewhat corny perhaps, and theologically unsound, but I liked it. A couple of pages later I wrote, "Aim high and keep your aim". Apparently these concepts became part of my thinking.

Life had so many possibilities. I used to ponder a lot about all there was to know and see and do. There were books to read, places I'd never been, people I'd never know about. I wish now I'd devoted time to mastering a musical instrument or even excelling in one sport. I must confess that I considered some of my girl friends who were boy-crazy rather foolish. I liked boys and I expected to marry someday, but to have one's happiness dependent on who called and when seemed a rather precarious existence. It was also like admitting defeat, as if one didn't have any independent source of fun. And to date indiscriminately in order to be popular — I considered this foolish.

I not only thought about these things, I also wrote them down. When I was an eighth-grader one of my teachers suggested that I buy a journal or diary with blank pages. She encouraged me to write down my thoughts when I felt strongly about something or read a passage of great beauty. I liked this idea and bought such a book. On those pages I poured out feelings which often even I didn't understand. It was good emotional therapy, and it was also good intellectual exercise as I was forced to put feelings into words. Reading them now, years later, is like seeing myself grow up.

On one page I had written a note to myself as a freshman in college called "Remember". It goes like this:

When you think about marriage, gal, don't forget what you think it should be and don't be content to settle for less.
Remember you want a man who likes to walk in the rain, read good books on a quiet evening, look at the stars and learn new things, who likes to rake leaves in the autumn and listen to good music.

He should be clean and good, somebody who loves God as you do, who wants his life to count for something, who won't settle for a small world. Don't forget. Remember.

Sitting on the attic floor looking through a box of old keepsakes recently, I read this account and looked across at my husband as he dug through some of his old memoirs. I thanked God for putting the dream in my heart for this kind of a person so I could recognise the man God had for me.

Fortunately I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about romance in my early college days. I majored in journalism at Michigan State University, toying with the idea of becoming either a newspaper woman (preferably a foreign correspondent) or an advertising wizard.

My faith grew tremendously in my years at Michigan State and I was discovering more and more that the most important part of my life was knowing God through Jesus Christ. I had known Him as the truth and had accepted Him as my Saviour many years earlier. Now I was discovering Him was a real person, my dearest friend. I guess I can honestly say that it was during my college years I really came to love Christ and to find living for Him the goal that mattered most in life.

After a freshman year without meeting any other Christians on campus God brought me into the local Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship group known as Spartan Christian Fellowship (SCF). Meeting Christian students who had a vitality in Jesus Christ that I didn't gave impetus to my spiritual growth. The Bible became a new book, exciting to read and share with the other girls who lived in our dorm. God was becoming someone to trust in the most practical areas of life.

The faculty sponsor of SCF and his wife, Paul and Doris DeKoning, often gave me a ride home from church on Sunday mornings. I didn't catch on too fast, but the year I was a junior in college Doris kept talking about this handsome fellow who had been active in SCF and who was back from service to finish up his degree at State. Had I met him yet? She'd ask me this question each Sunday on the way home. Then she'd remark about how terrific he was. Somehow we missed meeting for the first month-and-a-half of school. She asked me about him several times, but even then I didn't remember the name. I thought she was just pleased that our SCF group had some new male leadership.

And so it was that our SCF Halloween party found me sitting next to the most wonderful man in the world and I didn't even know it. We were busy playing a silly game called "Zip-Zap". The person who was "it" would stand in the middle of the room, point his finger at a victim and say either "Zip," which meant that you give the name of the person on your right, or "Zap," which called for the name of the person on your left. A good get-acquainted game. And I kept leaning over and asking, "What did you say your name was?" because I was so worried I'd be called on that I wasn't concentrating very hard on the name. "Keith Hunt," he'd say each time, and I was so involved I didn't even notice until later that he looked like someone I'd seen somewhere in my dreams.

Later that evening he recited a four-line bit of Ogden Nash's verse at the right moment, and I really began to take notice. I rattled my four-line favourite in return and thought I'd really scored when he asked at the end of the party if he could take me back to the dorm. Alas, as we arrived at his car, I found it filled with four other girls whom he was dropping off. Here was the gallant car owner doing his brotherly duty and getting the girls home on time! I didn't expect special attention after that and I wasn't disappointed.

People went steady in our day, too, but Keith Hunt didn't. We went to collegiate activities in groups. Our SCF affairs were in groups. Sometimes I was with Keith, other times with different members of SCF. It was fun, uninvolved, and an ideal way to get to know a number of people very well. The same night Keith led our SCF Bible study I wrote home, "I've met a man who is the kind I'd like to marry. But he doesn't seem interested in girls, and if he were, he wouldn't look at me. But at least it's satisfying to know there is such a man."

Time went on, and without my keeping tab on the checklist, Keith Hunt was revealing himself more and more to be everything I admired. One night after he walked me home from the Union grill where several of us had been having Cokes together, I realised what was happening. Nothing seemed more foolishly feminine to me than to develop a liking for a fellow who didn't reciprocate. As far as I knew Keith wasn't interested in me, so I didn't want to spend a lot of time and emotional energy dreaming about what probably would never come to pass. I remember getting down by my bed that night and saying, "Lord, I want to concentrate on loving You. Please keep my heart until You show me what's right." No one else knew how I felt. This was private — between the Lord and me — and that's a good way to keep the affairs of the heart.

March came all too quickly and Keith had finished his engineering degree in the middle of the year. He took me to a concert alone for the first time the night before he left school. We had a lovely evening together. He was a good friend and in past days we had enjoyed hilarious times with a continual duel of wit and banter. But this night was different — a wistful goodbye to college days.

He wrote to me after that. Clever letters that made me laugh and serious letters about things he was thinking. Mostly it was just the fun of friendship, open and free, a good kind of sharing that made me glad to have him as a friend. Just knowing him made me a better person, for he added many dimensions to my life.

So secure and unassuming was our friendship that when it came Spring banquet time and he was invited back to State to be the Master of Ceremonies, he sent word via a friend asking if I would go to the banquet with him. That's hardly the romantic way to invite a girl to a big affair. If I had thought it was a romantic occasion, I'd never have gone. But in keeping with our tongue-in-cheek repartee, I wrote: "John Alden has spoken. I accept your invitation with pleasure, Captain Standish." Among my souvenirs is the answer I received from him later: a small leather-bound volume of Longfellow's The Courtship of Miles Standish. Among my souvenirs also are samples of his humorous prose, his favourite famous poems and the infamous ones he wrote himself to fit the situation. I liked him because he thought like an engineer, but had all the magical extras.

To my surprise, while I was home for summer vacation I received a letter from Keith, telling me his engineering firm was transferring him, and the path from his home to his new location led right past my door. Could he come for Sunday dinner? He came, met my family, and went for a walk with me to see my childhood haunts. Before leaving he mentioned he'd be making this trip next weekend, and could he please come again. I thought he must have liked my mother's cooking and invited him to come back.

When he returned, we picnicked with my family, went to church and attended a family birthday party. Another gay time. And then it happened.

I had asked the Lord to keep my heart until He showed me what was right. I can honestly say the Lord answered my prayer. I believe He specialises in heart-keeping when we really mean business and cooperate with Him by avoiding day-dreaming about the unknown. I had no reason to think Keith was more than a special friend. I had been regularly dating another fellow. But all this time God was keeping my heart because He knew what He was going to do. Now He released my heart's response. And I'll never forget that feeling. Instead of the friend with whom I liked to banter, all of a sudden our relationship changed. As we rode home from church I felt an overwhelming love for Keith. With pounding heart, I stole a sly look at him as we drove into my sister's yard for my nephew's birthday party. And then I didn't have time to think about it anymore as the family swept in.

One hour later I knew why God had released my heart and let me realise how much I loved Keith. It was the right time and the right place — a beautiful spot in the moonlight. Then Keith, who had never so much as held my hand, kissed me, told me he loved me and wanted to marry me. This is almost too precious a moment to even discuss with anyone else. I share it because I think the way Keith acted was in the highest of Christian standards. I knew he had never even kissed any other girl and that this was not a light moment for him. His kiss was not a selfish exploitation to see if I revved his engines and if he wanted me for a wife. Rather, he committed himself to me with that kiss in holiness and honour.

Because neither of us had previous, confusing romantic involvement, we knew our love to be the will of God. We didn't have to wonder if this was genuine because we had not been physically excited from months of petting. We knew. And it was beautiful, not tainted by our mistakes. It was as if God was right there in that car and said, "This is My love for you." I believe that the surest way to be confused about the will of God is to get so emotionally involved you can't think straight. I believe Christian young men need to investigate what Paul is saying in I Thessalonians 4:4 when he says, "...that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God..." (RSV).

Secondly, I was impressed by Keith's Christian maturity in knowing that it isn't right to tell a girl you love her unless you also express your desire at the same time to take care of her for the rest of your life. Love of a man for a woman must be a total commitment of life, not just an emotional feeling. To say "I love you" without a promise of marriage is to deny the meaning of love. How can a girl respond if she isn't sure of what he means by love? I shall always be grateful to God for helping Keith to commit himself so honestly and completely that I could respond with the newly released love that had been growing for months within me.

Now I smile at my girlhood ambition to be a foreign correspondent. It's the wise, satisfied smile of a woman who has found fulfilment in the will of God. It was good to want to be, to do, to learn. God used all of this to make me into the wife Keith needed and wanted. And for me, Keith is just what I needed, what I want and admire. He is a man of God, the man God chose for me, the leader of our home. I've been able to say to our son, "Be like your father, for he pleases the Lord." Nothing can ever happen to make us wonder whether we did our own choosing and made a mistake. This was His plan and it's been good and perfect. And it keeps getting better all the time.

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