Thomas picked a bad time to start wooing me. I had recently broken up with a serious boyfriend and my heart was still hurting. Furthermore, I had decided I was too broken and immature to be trusted with romantic relationships. I was resolved to keep focused on the Lord and my studies for the next few years. No more men for me!
So it is a good thing that Thomas’ tactics were unconventional. He arranged our first date by means of a ruse. He had recently returned from a long trip to Taiwan and China, so he invited me and several others from our church over to see slides. I should have realized that 2:00 pm was too early for an old school slide show. I showed up several hours before anyone else and we went to see a UT basketball game. That day Thomas declared no romantic intentions, and I gave him no encouragement.
Even so, he began to call. I was frozen in fear, unable to answer the phone or return his calls. The irony was that I had told God a few years earlier that I hoped to marry a man “like Thomas Cogdell.” I never imagined the original Thomas would be interested in me! Now here he was, knocking on my door, and my heart was numb.
I went to see my old boyfriend who knew Thomas from church. I told him my situation and he spoke the wisdom of God to me. “Amy, you would be a fool not to date Thomas Cogdell!” So the next time Thomas called, I picked up the phone and agreed to see a play with him and his sisters.
Encouraged by two “sort of” dates, Thomas proposed a third – and it was a doozy. “Would you come with me next Saturday to an abortion protest and get arrested?”
What man in his right man thinks going to jail together is an appealing start to courtship?? What woman in her right mind accepts?
I did. I showed up the next Saturday morning, sometime in early 1989, to stand in silence for several hours in front of an abortion clinic. I was arrested for criminal trespass and taken to city jail where I spent the night.
Over the next few months, I went with Thomas to other abortion protests. I was arrested again and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Thomas was arrested four times and sentenced to six months in jail, though he served some of that time through community service.
While Thomas was in jail he wrote me long love letters on toilet paper. He painted pictures for me using the dye on M&M’s, dissolved in water, applied to paper with the soft end of cardboard matches (all items you could buy from the commissary.) And he decided to ask me to marry him. It was a fruitful time for him and for me.
Recently I felt the Lord ask me this question. “Amy, why did you go to jail?”
That made me think. It was not passion for a cause. Truthfully, I had not given much thought to the tragedy of abortion until Thomas invited me to be arrested.
It was not for love. Though I was officially Thomas’ girlfriend at my first arrest, my heart was still numb. It took a few more months and a glorious camping trip to Big Bend for me to fall in love.
So why did I agree to such a crazy date? This is what the Holy Spirit told me….
“Amy, you went to jail because you trusted Thomas, more than you trusted yourself. You respected him. You assumed that whatever he did was right. You adopted his passion because you wanted to do what was right.”
And then I heard the tender voice of Jesus chime in….
“And that is why you have followed Me.”
I laughed because Jesus is always right. I have not always loved Jesus the way I love Him now. In fact, my heart has often felt numb. But I have always believed that He is good. I wanted to be good too, so I followed Him. Not perfectly, of course. And not whole-heartedly at all times. I have sometimes doubted. I have also been confused, even offended, by His words. But I have never known anyone nearly so good, so righteous, so wise as Jesus, so I’ve followed. And the longer I follow, the more I love Him. The more confident I am that He loves me; that He is, in fact, Love.
It seems that my dear husband Thomas and my Divine Bridegroom have a lot in common. “Take up your cross and follow me,” is a daring proposal to one’s Bride. But those who trust will not be disappointed!