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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Shane Barnard and Bethany Dilon

Dating, Waiting and Worship

Though actively touring as Christian music artists, Shane Barnard, of the acoustic worship duo Shane & Shane, and Bethany Dillon, who debuted her solo career seven years ago at age 14, began a long-distance dating relationship in the fall of 2006. The following summer they were engaged, and they married on March 29, 2008. The couple have since plugged into their local church, The Oaks Fellowship, an Assemblies of God congregation in Dallas. Barnard leads worship for the church part time and also teaches music ministry classes at The Oaks School of Leadership. Though not on staff, Dillon guest teaches and is involved in discipling female students. In between tours and concert dates, the couple recently spoke with Assistant Editor Jennifer McClure.

evangel: Why was it important to remain sexually pure and to wait for marriage?
I think it's invaluable. I believe if either of us would have had another sexual partner that there would have been a lot of additional emotional baggage going into our marriage. Though the Lord could redeem that kind of situation, I'm really glad and grateful that I don't have to have the thoughts of my wife being with another man. And vice versa. I think it's super invaluable in a marriage, and the blessing of waiting is just beyond measure.

DILLON: In all honesty, it's difficult to stay pure. I know that I'm not perfect, but I hadn't had sex before I got married.

It is such a parable - the picture of waiting on Christ, the Bridegroom, preparing and guarding your heart.The Lord is faithful. I'm really grateful our story is the story that it is. I think it's helped me even in my heart just to imagine what it's going to be like to see Jesus.

evangel: What words of encouragement would you give to single adults on Valentine's Day when the focus is so often on romantic love?
My encouragement would be that it's not wrong to desire a romantic relationship, but to really seek God out on those days. God is faithful. Wait on Him and ask Him to fulfill those desires in you with something deeper.

I believe that women, in particular, really want to be pursued and to feel just completely captivating and lovely to someone. Valentine's Day can be a day when you feel like the only thing you want is a big bouquet of flowers, and then you don't have one. Even when you are married, that romantic feminine thing that the Lord has put in us doesn't go away. It's OK to feel those desires, but we need to take care that those things don't take the throne in our heart.

evangel: How has your relationship with each other impacted your relationship with God or your view of God?
I feel like I experience God's love now more than I ever have. I'm more aware of God's pursuing me and of His patience with me. When you're married to someone who loves Jesus, you're a living parable of Christ and the Church.

The first year, when you're finding out all these things about yourself, it can be disappointing. It's like, "I'm not as righteous as I thought or hoped I was. I've got all of this junk inside of me, and I feel like it's constantly being exposed and I constantly have to confess it and ask for forgiveness."

Walking in that reality and facing those things with a spouse who truly loves me is powerful. Shane loves me in my weakness and is merciful when he shouldn't be and is patient when he shouldn't be. I feel like the Lord has really shown me in a tangible way just a fraction of His love, His patience, His mercy and His steadfastness towards me.

BARNARD: My view of the Lord and who He is has probably been shaped more by Beth than by anything else in my life.
When we started dating, I was pretty sold out as far as pursuing her and being intentional about that. We would have these phone dates, and she wouldn't answer the phone at first. Sometimes, she would postpone the date. I'd be just a mess, just devastated. In the first couple of months, I often thought, This girl doesn't like me. There's no way she likes me the way I like her.

During this whole process, she was writing songs about me and for me. One time she wrote a song and sent it to me on a demo CD in the mail. The song was super sweet, but honestly, at the time I didn't really like it. I just wanted her to talk to me on the phone. I thought some of the things she was saying in her song weren't true because of the way she was acting. I'd feel like, This song is really sweet and thank you for it, but you can keep your song. I just want to talk on the phone. Just keep our phone dates.

Then I had this huge moment with the Lord a couple months into dating. It was just as clear as a bell how I was writing God songs of my affection and all the while standing Him up on "phone dates" constantly. What He wants of me, what He commands of me, is my heart and my love and my time.

evangel: As worship leaders, what does worship mean to you, specifically through music?
I love the thought of singing to the Lord corporately. Expressing ourselves to the Lord in music is powerful and awesome. Singing to the Lord to glorify His name is crucial. But I definitely don't think that's all that worship is, or even close to a complete definition of biblical worship. More and more we live life in the Lord, learning how to worship Him biblically.

In the bigger picture, we're called to edify the Body and preach the gospel and be all these things that the Bible says we're spiritually gifted to be. The Lord for some reason chose to let Beth and me sing on pitch and hear notes right and have some sense of rhythm. We're just plugging that into what He's called us to do in a spiritual sense, which is brag about His name, lift Him up, glorify Him and tell people about Him.

DILLON: I agree with that. I would just add, I think the powerful thing about worship music, at least for me, is that there's something about singing, there's something about music, that's moving and spiritual. You remember it. There are songs that are Scripture that I remember before I would have memorized the Scripture. Worship music is songs of truth about God's character and God's love and the gospel.

Worship isn't music necessarily, but music causes worship to happen in my heart. Sometimes worship songs sort of serve as a vocabulary for me when I want to communicate something or I want to cast some anxiety at the Lord's feet.


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