It was Saturday afternoon in the spring of ‘79, my sophomore year at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
My life was about to radically change.
Walking over Trophy Point with its majestic panorama of the Hudson River, I was on my way to the cadet barracks from the chapel. The freshness of the air, the beauty of the Hudson Highlands, and the fact that I had a poli sci paper waiting for me on my desk all gave ample reason to linger outdoors awhile.
Taking a seat on a stone wall to survey the scene, it seemed every cadet and officer was walking about with a girl on his arm. And there I sat, lonely, wishing I had a girl too.
Next came this profound thought…
Not a girl to date—what I really wanted was to find my wife.
Fairly deep for a 19-year-old, don’t you think? I later realized that far beyond a notion of my own, it was a prayer that God had stirred in my heart, reflective of my fledgling walk of faith.
Just then, two young ladies strolled in my direction and sat down not too far away on the same wall. My radar locked in on the beautiful dark-haired one. I sat there in anguish, too shy to start up a conversation. The dark-haired girl glanced over and noticed there was a Christian magazine in my unsteady hand. She wondered if I might be a believer in Jesus like herself.
But she also would not have started the conversation.
So, there we sat — only yards, but a potential lifetime, apart.
Suddenly, the bushes next to us erupted in a cacophony as a flock of previously silent, or non-existent, birds started chirping and singing. I looked up, startled. She looked up, startled. Our eyes met. She smiled. I grimaced, knowing I had to say something. She remembers what I said. I certainly would not have…
“Sounds like a jungle out there," I offered. How lame.
Politely agreeing, she got right to the point, "Do you know the Lord?" Nine months prior I would have had to violate the Cadet Honor Code to say yes. But by His grace, I was able to say with confidence, "Why, yes I do."
And so began our life together.
God had given me the beautiful day, the perfect place, the prayer to pray, the birds to alarm, the magazine to open the door, and the answer to my prayer, all in the same few minutes that life-altering, spring day on Trophy Point.
Yet I came so close to blowing it! There’s more to this story.
I escorted the dark-haired girl, named Liz Scott, and her friend up the steep hillside to the Cadet Chapel. Stepping into the soaring Gothic cathedral, Lizzie somehow knew she was going to get married there. She didn't know to whom, but she was starting to have her suspicions.
Next came the terrible discovery that crushed all my hopes for me ever being the one to marry her…
She was an older woman!
That’s right. While I was yet a mere boy of 19 (and a half), she was almost 21. We exchanged addresses, but in my youthful ignorance I was sure I would never write her. At that stage of stunted male social development, I was sure a guy had to find a girl his age or younger. Lizzie didn't know my confusion, but she would never have been the first one to write. She would wisely wait and see.
And that would have been the end of our story, except for our sovereign and gracious God.
My ignorance caused God to work overtime that day. That very April evening, while Lizzie was working in a bookstore an hour and a half away from West Point, in walked a young couple looking for Radio Shack. Lizzie never helped them with the needed directions, but she did discover that this was a West Point cadet out with his fiancé. And not just any cadet, but a guy I had recently come to know through the Christian fellowship on campus.
When our paths crossed two weeks later, he managed to remember, "Hey, I met a girl you know named — let me think — Liz Scott!"
I was stunned. My world tilted. I struggled to register what I had heard.
Did he actually say the name of the dark-haired older woman? Through my fog he continued with enthusiasm, "What a great Christian gal. Some Christian guy here ought to get to know her!" In that moment, I knew God had given me a second chance. My next brilliant realization: I’ll bet I'm that Christian guy.
The rest is history. I wrote her; she wrote back. I asked her to marry me; she said yes. She became a wonderful army, missions, and ministry wife, as well as a mother of seven, plus 16 grandbabies (and counting).
We have returned many times to Trophy Point with precious family and treasured friends to tell the story of that place of beauty and honor on the Hudson. It forever holds a most special place in my heart; for there, God was so kind to give me the woman of His dreams.
Do you have a “God love story” of your own? Share it in the comments as we collectively celebrate the coming of Valentine’s Day!