Today is the 12 year anniversary of the day I got engaged to this wonderful man, David Mitchell, my wonderful husband. Yes we do celebrate our engagement anniversary, of course it was a very important exciting day, but also, we have a very cool story to go along with it.
The story begins a few years before I even met Dave, when I was studying at Glasgow University. To cut a long story short, I had a radical, life changing encounter with God. I had been a Christian for many years, but let’s just say, I was floundering in how to live out my faith. I came to a point of desperation, where I just knew I was making a mess of everything. One of my best friends at Uni – Alex Reid (thanks if you’re reading this), who now works at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, challenged me about how I was living my supposedly Christian life. I went to God in desperation that night, asking him to HELP! I didn’t have an elaborate prayer, but my heart was humble and broken. God met with me that night in a way that overwhelmed my senses, seemed to re-wire my brain and made me see the world in a whole new way. I had heard of people saying that everything looked different to them when they met God, but it never made sense to me until that day. My friend who had challenged me came to visit me the next day, and he just looked at me and said “What happened to you!?” I really was a different person. Ok, I’ll cut to the chase again. Part of that encounter was a revelation, that I really needed to surrender the area of ‘the pursuit of love,’ to God. I’d had a string of boyfriends, of broken hearts and lasting wounds. I felt God asked me to completely trust this area to him and to remain single until he pointed out ‘the one’ to me. My revelation of God’s goodness at that time was so strong that it wasn’t really hard for me to give this to him. I knew that he is so much smarter, better and loving than I am, that he was going to do a better job handling this area than I had been.
Fast forward a few years. Due to a relapse of the debilitating chronic fatigue that plagued me through my whole teenage years (that is another miraculous story that maybe I will share one day), I had to leave University. While I was convalescing at home, I felt God re-direct my path to the Faith Mission Bible College, that is another pretty cool story, but I need to focus here!!
Before the first day of college, a gal told me the story of walking into her first meeting at Bible college, she saw some guy she had never met, and supernaturally knew that she would marry him… and she did. I was secretly hoping to have the same experience… but nada, no fireworks!! However after the meeting was over I heard that there was still one guy from Canada, who had not yet arrived at college. “That must be him!!” I thought, and when I saw a photo of him, with long blonde hair and heard he was an amazing musician, I was really starting to get intrigued.
When we first met there were no major sparks. David was incredibly reserved at this point in his life, and had huge boundaries, (maybe impenetrable walls would be more accurate) with girls. He also had totally given this area to God, and was not interested in chasing… or even interacting with gals, only seeking God. My efforts to get to know him, therefore, did not work so well!
2 weeks after I met him, I remember the moment exactly, I fell head over heels in love with David. Funnily enough it happened when I was watching him walk down the hall that triggered this rush of emotion in me. What struck me was the way he walks. He always walks in a careful, measured way, and he rarely rushes, he is always level headed, stable and purposeful….(it’s amazing what you can tell about someone from their walk!). This is the complete opposite of me: I always rush, I always do things too fast, and I am as changeable as the wind 😉 At the moment this happened, I was thinking “NO, NO, don’t fall in love with him, DON’T DO IT, aaaaah too late!” I really was so besotted with him, I used to shake when we were at the same dinner table, I could barely eat!
As much as I was in love with David, I really tried to discipline myself to not think about him, not talk to him, and to try and focus on why I was really at college. You see, at that point in my life, I really believed God wanted me to go to Africa, to the Congo specifically, to serve Him there. I actually believed I could do this best single and so was not planning to marry. David was planning to go to Kore@,and had a very specific interest in North Kore@ (where he has been able to go twice). And so I thought it was not meant to be.
All my efforts to suppress my emotions were somewhat effective. I was able to tame to a manageable place the feelings that at first were so overwhelming. However, the more my feelings were in control, the more my brain analyzed David. The evidence kept mounting that he really would be the perfect husband for me. Our gifts and personalities really complement each other, and yet we are similar in so many ways, and we had very similar standards and values. Even though we were both at a Wesleyan Bible college, we both had Reformed theology with a charismatic bent. Plus whenever we did talk, it was like our souls touched
Dave was in the year above me at Bible College so when I finishing my second year, he was finishing his third, and going back to Canada, to finish his degree and probably head to Korea. After my second year was finished, I spent 8 weeks in the summer working for the Faith Mission in Northern Ireland. There were five of us girls, living, eating and preaching together – wow that summer, we all must have preached 5 times a week!! While we weren’t prepping and preaching we were talking girl talk, and of course we talked about love, romance and all that stuff young girls talk about. One day I was telling one of the other gals that I really believed I should stay single to focus on what was calling me to. She challenged my thinking that staying single was somehow better, (which at that point is the way I was thinking) and told me I should ask God if he wanted me to marry. Well, that was revolutionary for me. That very night, I went for a long walk down the beach in Port Rush, seeking God for an answer to this crucial question. You may have heard that God has a sense of humor, and the more you get to know him, the more you realize that really is true. That night I felt God was almost laughing as he put on my heart the fact that I would really be quite hopeless as a single person. I really am not a very practical or independent person (the other day David said to me “Honey, if I die, will you please remember to change the dryer lint filter, otherwise your going to burn the house down!!), and in retrospect I can see how much better I am married – Dave makes up for a lot of my weaknesses. Not that I don’t think it isn’t possible for someone like me to live a satisfying life single. But the revelation I was having was, that two are better than one, and that maybe I could accomplish more with a buddy
When I knew that God wanted me to get married, I knew it would have to be David, or someone exactly like him. However, off he trotted to Canada. I remember seeing him for the last moment before he left, thinking “I will never see him again :(”
However, e-mail is a wonderful thing, and we kept in touch over the fall. At Christmas break, I was chatting with a friend about my feelings for this fella (Scott Cameron – do you remember this conversation??), he encouraged me that the most healthy thing to do with these emotions is to share them… if they are not reciprocated you can move on… if they are, well… who knows ;).
I became more convinced that I should not go on entertaining these feelings, without taking responsibility for them and sharing with David. I also got encouragement from the story of Ruth, who was the one who made the first move in the relationship with the man she married.
So I wrote the e-mail sharing how I felt. A friend was with me at the time, and she said “Agnes, you’re SHAKING!!’ Yes I was! It was truly nerve wracking, even on e-mail and I was hoping for some kind of quick response, but NOTHING!! I was so mad, at least he could have done me the courtesy of letting me know he didn’t feel the same way, instead of this torturous silence. Unbeknown to me, he never got the e-mail, for some reason it went to the bottom of his inbox, instead of to the top. About a week later, I got a chatty e-mail from him, with no mention of what I had written, and at the bottom he had written “I miss you!”
Well that was a good sign, but I didn’t know the half of it, on the other side of the world, David was praying every day for three things; 1. That God would give him a wife, 2. That she would be a women of God, and a soul mate and 3. That she would be Agnes Ferguson :). On probably the 25th January 2000, he added something to the prayer – Please DO SOMETHING!! That day I re-sent my original e-mail, as a reply to his e-mail (and we believe, in response to that prayer) and this time he got it, and this time I got a reply – “It’s mutual!” We agreed we would spend 5 days praying about it, and then we would talk about it on the phone.
For both of us, those 5 days were filled with signs and wonders, God spoke to us both in numerous and spectacular ways, that this was indeed meant to be. I remember the night before THE phone call, telling someone, I am SO sure that I am meant to marry that guy, that I would marry him tomorrow if he asked… little did I know that he actually would!!! I was fully expecting that our phone call would be a discussion about whether we should begin a relationship… but when I picked up that international call, I heard “Agnes, I love you, I love everything about you, and I want to spend the rest of my life, with you as my wife… Will you marry me!!” I was very surprised to say the least, but I knew what to say!! God was so faithful to me, when I surrendered this area of my life to him, he more than delivered, he clearly pointed out “the One” to me, and brought us together in the most wonderful way. We really are perfect for each other, and have such an amazing, beautiful marriage. After 12 years, I still don’t take for granted the gift of having a soul mate as a marriage partner. It truly is one of the best gifts God has given me.
A friend e-mail me today to remind me of this… “Do you remember we were sitting on your bed and Dave and you had just found out you both liked each other and you were waiting for him to phone…maybe for the first time since the emails! You said to me, ‘It reallllllllly annoys me the way girls meet guys and rush into things and before you know it they’re engaged.’ Then he rang and off you went. Suddenly the door burst open and you burst in with arms as wide as can be and screamed ‘I’m engaged!’ ”
We don’t really recommend to people our method of getting together; it was perfect for us, but maybe not for everyone! For one thing, Dave really regrets not talking to my parents first. It was a big shock for them, to say the least. However my mum thought it was kind of funny that when she had been down to the college, he was the one person, apart from me, that she had taken a photo of – so at least she knew what he looked like!!!
We have often sat around the dinner table with our 4 children and told them the story of how we got together, it is a great story to be able to share. We do make sure to tell them, that they don’t have to follow in our footsteps, but we also encourage them that God really loves them, and cares about every area of their lives, and if he wants them to get married, that he has the perfect guy or gal already picked out. We often pray with them for that person, and encourage them to trust God with it, because we know from experience that he is very faithful