If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, please do before reading this one.
The first time I noticed Ken was freshman year English Lit class. We were all assigned oral reports on classical authors. Most students did an okay job listing fun facts, etc., but Ken stood out for me. Coming off of two years of having the lead in his high school play, his report was dramatic and told with flair. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but I was impressed.
But by the end of our freshman year – we had our first date. Except … well, it was a double date and he went with my friend and I went with his friend. The guys wanted to do something special, so they took us out to a fancy restaurant and then on a Windella boat ride (which was a big deal for poor Moody students). So technically we did have a date, but not with each other.
Ken and my friend broke up, but I continued dating his friend. Not seriously, but we hung around together and often Ken was with us, so I got to know him well. This went on until our senior year. That summer (between junior and senior year), Ken stayed in Chicago for an extra month so he could go to summer school. Because he was far from home and I lived close, a few times he came out to the house and once went with me to a college and career get-together at our church. Meanwhile “the friend” and I broke up forever (much to my parents’ relief) and that was that.
The second night back at school our senior year, Ken came over to Houghton Hall. Seems his friend was sick and he asked Ken to find me to ask if I would visit him in health service.
I hesitated. I was determined not to get back into this going-nowhere friendship and wasn’t that excited about making a health-service call. So I told Ken I would go ONLY if he went with me.
He agreed. So we visited the friend for a little while and then we left. This was late August and the city was enveloped by a sultry mist of smells: cars, hotdogs, and lake. The dorms – not air conditioned – were hot and uncomfortable.
Ken suggested we head across the street to a small ice-cream stand for a cone. Sounded good. As we ate our cones, we walked … and talked. At first it was just incidental stuff. But we knew each other well by this time and were comfortable sharing.
I told him how I had interned for my Christian Ed track at Camp Awana that summer. My first two weeks counseling eight-year-olds was a lot of fun, but the second two weeks challenged me to the core. I had a group of middle-school girls from the inner city. They were Christians, but their knowledge was surface level. At night, after lights out, we would sit on the wooden cabin floor and eat canned fruit with our fingers (no plastic spoons in sight). They would pry me with questions and I quickly realized I had no backup. No parents, no youth leaders, no Moody professors to help me answer. This was up to me. I look back at those weeks and consider them the catalyst for moving beyond dependence on being a second-generation Christian to making my faith my own.
Then Ken started talking about his own summer and how a small church in a neighboring town asked him to pulpit supply. (After all, he WAS a Moody student.)
“I didn’t know what I should talk about,” Ken told me. “So I just started reading Romans, wanting to come up with an outline. I found this cool thing, but I never, ever heard anyone talk about it before. In chapter 7, Paul talks about the struggle within him not to give way to his flesh. Like that struggle is war between the new creation we are in Christ and our old, flesh nature … because our old, flesh nature is desperately sinful and there’s nothing we can do to clean it up. But our new, spiritual nature is completely righteous because we are new creations in Christ. I worried about preaching about it because I couldn’t find any commentaries or anything that explained it. I had always been taught that you had to fix yourself, not that we have freedom in what Christ has done for us! Did you ever hear anything like that?” he asked.
“Ahhh … yes,” I answered calmly. But actually inside I was thinking, “Wow! This 20-year-old from Prosperity, Pennsylvania figured out the old and new nature on his own! I. AM. IMPRESSED.” (He didn’t even know who my dad was and certainly hadn’t read the book.)
Something clicked. I already knew he was a great guy … and kind and super funny. And now I figured if he was that interested in studying God’s Word then he was someone with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. That night when I went back to the dorm, I knew that I would marry Ken.
I guess he felt the same way.
Within five weeks he asked me to marry him.
And when he did – I heard bells ring.
Okay, so they were the bells for an evening school class.
But they were still bells.
Within 10 months we were married.
And that is the story of how Linda met Ken and the start of something good.