I didn’t really know Roce outside of our group conference calls. She worked as a specialist in arts and culture, and she was a fellow-leader with the International Orality Network. Her background certainly gave us common ground for our work and a friendship, but I was not ready to hear anything like this. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Walk up to her and say, “Excuse me, but God just told me I’m supposed to marry you?!”
God’s Voice of Confirmation
The next day, one of my close friends approached me privately and said, “Chuck, I don’t want to seem insensitive or anything. I know your wife just died a few months ago, but it seemed to me that God was telling me that ‘you should not be alone, and that He has someone else for you.’” These were the exact words I heard Him say on the Florida beach.
The day after this, our leadership team retreated to an overview restaurant in Tagaytay (Taal Volcanic Lake) where we debriefed the consultation and began planning our global strategies. Because of the breathtaking majestic scene, everyone started posing and snapping pictures.
In one of those pictures, I stood by Roce and a mutual friend. After the digital image came up on another friend’s camera, he got a surprised look on his face and approached me. “Chuck, I don’t want to be insensitive or anything; I know your wife just passed a few months ago, but (pointing to the picture), he said: “I think God has something there for you two. Not sure. It just seems that way to me.”
That was day two. Then every day, for the next three months, someone would either say something about this kind of gift to my life, I would read something in Scripture that seemed to shout at me . . . “This is from God!” or an overwhelming sense of peace and a growing love would fill me that I could not explain.
Acting on God’s Promise
I left Manila and headed to India for 10 days of work and then to Israel. And there (after three months of daily confirmation), I told God, “Enough! I believe you. I’ll pose the question to her!” By now, our work relationship turned into friendship. We talked together daily, prayed together daily, and started sharing our deepest thoughts as friends.
I had to act in faith. If this was of God, and I knew it was, I would buy an engagement ring and ask Roce to be my wife. We never talked about our feelings or what we believed God was doing, but we increasingly depended on our daily WhatsApp or messenger calls.
So, at the next stop in Johannesburg, the home of gold and diamonds, I found a reputable jeweler and designed a ring especially for Roce: two of her aquamarine birthstones were to be separated by a small diamond in a channel set ring with a solitaire in the middle. Meaning? A simple yet elegant stone (Roce) with a diamond in the rough (me) placed with it on both sides of a solitaire diamond gemstone – Christ, the center of our life, reflecting His brilliance over us.
Now with resolve and walking in obedience, I headed back to Manila– closer to my calling and heart. I pressed forward in faith to share my growing feelings toward Roce.
Claiming God’s Promise
On the first evening back, we dined out and attended the Broadway musical, The Lion King. The next evening, I asked a friend to reserve a private dining area so that I could share my thoughts and feelings without interruption or distractions. They also granted my request to deliver a bouquet of orchids and lilies to give to Roce as we entered the restaurant, going even a step farther by sprinkling rose petals on the floor and table. I made my playlist on Spotify, brought an external speaker and we talked, listened to the music, and feasted on a meal of steak and seafood. Then after dinner and hearing Michael Bolton’s version of When a Man Loves a Woman, I pulled out my iPad and read her a soliloquy of my thoughts. I told her what God had spoken to me, and I confessed my feelings for her.
To this point, we had never spoken of our feelings for each other, nor had I directly expressed intentions beyond our close friendship, daily Messenger/WhatsApp calls, and long-distance prayer times. I read because I knew I would either forget my words or get lost in my emotions. And, as I did, Roce began to cry. She had experienced a very similar series of events over these same months. She also heard from Him that she was not to be alone, that God had someone for her, and that I was that man. We knew that this was more than us. “God was in us to will and to do according to his good pleasure” (Eph. 2:10).
The God of Beautiful Plans
God’s plans are unmistakable. His love unrelenting. His purposes for us deeply fulfilling. His mercies new every morning. And through this story, He intends to encourage you, dear readers. The path often seems hidden, and the way seems long and hard. Yet, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me (refined me), I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
It’s the story of the Refiner’s Fire. For me and Roce. And for you, as He cares deeply about ALL He wants to bring to you.