February is the month we celebrate romance. Actually, the only romantic things about me are my ''love handles,'' which is why I have spent so much energy developing them over the years. You think somebody would appreciate them.
For some people, romance is an easy, if not natural thing. Others, like me, find it complicated and elusive. It is not that men are less romantic than women are; they just have different ideas of romance.
For most women, romance is flowers and candy in heart shaped boxes.
For men it is a Big Mac with fries and a soda and SUPER SIZE it, please.
Why are women so complicated and men so simple? I do not think that came out the way I meant it.
If it were not for women, romance would have died a long time ago. There is nothing quite like springtime with a hint of romance in the air with a delicate dash of chivalry.
People from Hollywood try to define romance for us, but their idea of romance is raw sex and lurid lust. Hollywooders would not know romance if it nibbled on their ears. Romance is not a fling in the spring, but a lifelong relationship, experiencing all the ups and downs of life – together – and not growing apart!
There is no picture quite as refreshing as a couple still together after all those years of turmoil and temerity. The easiest thing in all the world is to fall in love for a few years and then, when it gets difficult, bale out. What kind of thing is that?
Ah, but to see a couple married for 50 years or more; now that is the epitome of real romance.
I'll have you know that romance has not been a stranger at the parsonage. I met my wife (actually, she wasn't my wife then) when I went away to Bible college in 1970.
At the time, I was functionally romance challenged. Before I left home for college, I prayed for a wife. I had the good sense to know that a minister needs a good wife to support him in the ministry.
I prayed something like this, ''Father, I need a good wife and I don't know how to go about it. Let the first single girl I meet at Bible college be the wife of Your choosing.''
Now, I know this is a crazy and dangerous prayer to make. Some would take the high road of romance, but I took the low road of prayer. I may have been a bit desperate, but nobody could doubt my earnestness. I also figured that prayer was a lot cheaper than dating. After all, I am a Pennsylvania Dutchman.
Nevertheless, I prayed for a wife.
The day of my arrival on campus came and found me a bit anxious. I remembered my prayer and wondered just how God would answer it.
My parents took me to the college, which was some 500 miles from home; good planning on my part the men's dorm, I figured I was safe. I planned to avoid all contact with the opposite sex as long as possible.
But just as we pulled into the men's dorm parking lot, a young woman exited from the men's dorm. Remembering my prayer, I immediately amended it. ''God, this doesn't count. I've not stepped out of the car yet.''
Have you ever noticed that God has a marvelous sense of humor?
The young woman emerging from the men's dorm defied description. Do you remember when women rolled their hair up in big rollers? Well, this young woman had rolled her hair up in tomato cans! Nothing prepared me for such a sight. She actually looked like some space alien.
I do not know what she was wearing or even what she looked like. All I could see were those tomato cans on her head. At the time, I did not know much about romance, but I knew this was not it.
The next few days I did everything to avoid the women's dorm for fear I would run into her. Whenever I did see her, I crossed to the other side of the street. But the more I tried to avoid her, the more I ran into her. Prayer makes strange partners.
Thinking I was making progress in my plan of avoidance, the inevitable happened.
One week after arrival, my roommate invited me to come along with him and his girlfriend to a restaurant. Being the neurotic naive that I am, I said, ''Sure, I'd love to come along.'' After all, I had nothing else to do and it seemed like some fun.
When my roommate went to the women's dorm to pick up his girlfriend, who do you suppose was standing with his girlfriend waiting?
That's right. The young woman with the tin cans on her head.
Would you believe it? The young woman with the tin cans turned out to be the sister of my roommate.
It was a whirlwind romance. I met her in September and in February she asked me to marry her. In August of that year, I found myself at a church altar mumbling, ''I do.''
The Bible makes this promise: "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22 KJV).
A good wife is the find of a lifetime, as long as God is in charge of the search.