There are truths we can claim over our lives as believers, promises God has given us in His word. We know we are reconciled to God through Jesus’ death. We know our sins are forgiven. We know God is with us wherever we go. We can claim His strength in the midst of difficulty, provision for daily needs, comfort in hardship, wisdom in the face of challenges, rest when we are weary, and an escape when we are tempted. These promises are forever.
But what about more specific, individualized desires of our hearts? Our hearts are of utmost importance to God. Therefore, I believe He cares about what we care about. Even when our cares seem insignificant. He is constantly answering prayers and presenting new promises. It is up to us to be still and keep our ears and eyes open to what He wants to show us.
When I was 21 years old, I was fighting my way through treatment for mental illness and feeling emotions for the first time after years of suppressing them. I spent a long time not feeling anything, so suddenly, every emotion was amplified. Any happiness left me nearly bursting with uncontainable energy, and any pain left me crippled and in total despair. I met a guy who became my first adult “boyfriend” even though I didn’t know what that kind of relationship meant or how to handle it. Most of my life I was filled with distrust and disgust for men, but deep down I had an intense desire to love and be loved and find someone to share my life with.
The first step was to start dating and to learn how to communicate with someone of the opposite gender.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out he was using me, and the fallout was heartbreak. I barely knew this guy, but add the feeling of being used and discarded to emotions intensely amplified, and I found myself sitting on the floor in my bedroom with tears flowing down my face, crying out to God, wondering why life had to hurt so much. I felt as if I was too sensitive to deal with even a relatively small amount of disappointment.
I told God the little bit of pain I was feeling was unbearable, and that I certainly didn’t want to do it again. However, I knew eventually I wanted to find someone and I was confident God had a husband in mind for me. I couldn’t imagine having to look for him and put my heart on the line again.
I opened my Bible and proposed a solution. Out of desperation, I asked God to give me the name of the man I would marry someday. I figured it would save me a lot of time and heartache. It felt silly and ridiculous, and I assumed my request would not be justified with an answer, but I tried anyway. I opened my Bible at a random point and skimmed through the two pages facing open. There was a single name written in the entirety of those two pages: Michael. The guy who prompted this pain and motivated my request was named Mike. So I figured it was a coincidence or God’s way of refusing to answer me, because clearly, Mike was not part of God’s plan for me. I closed my Bible in resignation and all but forgot about my attempt to glimpse the future.
Fast forward two years to Christmas Day when I spent the day sick in bed with a book called “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. It had graced my bookshelf for quite a long time, but I had never gotten to the point of reading it. That day, that book changed my life. I finished it with a soaked pillow case under my tear-stained face and knew God had just used those written words to transform my heart. For those of you unfamiliar with this book, it is a re-telling of the story of Hosea from the Bible. The main male character’s name is Michael Hosea, and the unconditional love he displays toward his wife is reflective of the love given to us by God.
I had heard of women praying for their future husbands and loved this concept, so I began praying for God to bring me my “Michael (Hosea).” I asked God to prepare us for each other. I prayed for his safety, good fortune, and for blessings to find him, among other things.
It wasn’t until months later, as I was talking to God, praying for my “Michael,” that I suddenly felt as if I had been hit by a freight train. I finally put two and two together and was in utter frozen astonishment as it hit me- that day over two years earlier, in tears on my bedroom floor, the name “Michael” was not a coincidence or a joke; it was a promise.
I asked God who my future husband would be, and He gave me the name “Michael.” The very same name I now prayed for, symbolic of the man I was asking God to bring into my life. Even long before I knew what it meant, He gave me that name as a promise because He cares about my heart.
Just over a year after this realization, and after more prayer, I met a wonderful man and knew almost immediately that he was the “Michael” I had been asking God to give me. I believe God had picked this man as a channel through which to radically pursue my heart and to allow me to be loved in a way I never thought possible.
My favorite scene from “Redeeming Love” is when Michael Hosea walks his wife, Angel, through the woods to a spot where a perfect view of the sunrise in all its colors and all its magnificence can be seen as it lights up the sky. He tells Angel that is the life he wants to give her. If I had any doubt about God’s promise to me, very soon after meeting “My Michael,” he told me he felt I had seen a lot of darkness in my life but that he wanted our relationship to be a turning point. Like the character in Redeeming Love, Michael said he wanted to pull back the curtains and let the light in. As I heard these words, all I could see were curtains pulling back to reveal the most beautiful sunrise imaginable, shining with the light of a fulfilled promise and the hint of a powerful, heavenly smile.
I believe God whispered, “This is the life I want to give you.”