David and Abbey’s Engagement Testimony

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. With my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, ‘Mercy shall be built up forever, Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish forever and built up thy throne to all generations. And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in Heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints and to be had in reverance of all them that are about Him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee or to Thy faithfulness round about Thee?” Psalm 89

David and Abbey’s Testimony

2/6/00 – Walkersville Christian Fellowship

[Editor’s note: On November 23, 1999, my brother David Cox - age 21 Cessna pilot and Microsoft Certified Technician at wcfs.edu (our school) - was diagnosed with myxopapillary ependymoma, which in his case were very large intra-spinal tumors. He has undergone two surgeries to remove the tumors, but still has considerable future needs in handling this cross as it is a slow-growing condition. His cancer was a shock to all of us, but it has not come without incredible joy in the uniqueness of God's love and grace (favor). The following testimony will hopefully help describe God's greatness in His love and grace towards David and Abbey. Just prior to the following transcript, Abbey Severson sang a song she wrote for David, with her and her sisters and brother performing a little “Von Trapp Family” - remeniscent skit to go with the song. Also, the church men did a “Jean Claude Pierre, The Flying Ace” skit to commerate David’s famous children’s messages done with another church member Peter Fear. Both of these were to give David a personal Happy Birthday, as he turned 22 on January 25, 2000. Then, David and Abbey shared their testimony together.]

David: I do not know if I’ll be able to get the smile off of my face. I am so thankful for everyone’s love that you have shown toward me. I just feel so unworthy of it. I am so grateful for all the different presentations and for your (Abbey) presentation, it was so nice, it was wonderful. I am glad it is on video. I am just, if I was more of an emotional person I would be crying right now. I feel like I want to cry but I can’t, I’m too happy. I’m just so thankful for all the love you all have shown to me.

As you know I am engaged to get married to Abbey and that’s just in case you didn’t know that. Basically I believe this all started 10 years ago when I was eleven years old. I’ll start there and kind of move forward and explain how the Lord has been working in my life since 1989. In early 1989 I heard an engagement testimony from Dan and Amy Johnson, probably Spring or early Summer. They were sharing how they trusted God to bring them their spouses and Amy Johnson shared how she surrendered her desire to get married, to have a husband. She entrusted that to the Lord. And that testimony had a big impact on me when I was eleven. I thought about it a lot. I don’t know if I really made a commitment in my heart to trust the Lord, but it had a big impact on me at that age. And in July of ‘89, my family went to Kansas and Colorado to visit my dad’s family and on that trip I was just amazed at how big the world was. We had traveled a short distance in relation to the rest of the world and we spent three days driving out there and we met all these new people and cousins and distant relatives that I had never met before and another family that I had no idea even existed. And in addition to their friends and just all these different communities that I didn’t have any idea that they existed and God really impressed on my heart at that time just how big the world is, how gigantic the world is and how many millions of people there are, there are billions of people. I was thinking, “How am I going to find the right one, the right wife? There are so many people. If I try to go around and interview all the girls in the world and try to pick the best one, I’ll spend my entire life doing it and by that time I’ll be too old.” So I was overwhelmed at that prospect. I knew first of all that I wanted to have the best one, God’s best for me. I didn’t want to just go get some second best counterfeit. I knew that a pretty face is not enough to make a good marriage. She has to have a godly heart first of all and a heart to serve the Lord. I was just overwhelmed. Another thought that I realized that a wife doesn’t come with a 30-day money back guarantee. You can’t in reality in God’s eyes, you can’t exchange her if she doesn’t meet up to your desires. I was just overwhelmed at my inability to find the best one for me. So somewhere on I-70 between Kansas City, Kansas and Illinois, I just surrendered my whole future to the Lord once again especially most specifically about getting married. I said, “Lord, You know, You can search the entire world up and down and back and forth and You can search the entire world, check all the hearts out and find the best one for me. You know which girl is most compatible, most godly, the one that is just for me.” I said, “If she is on the other side of the country or on the other side of world, You can bring her to me in Your time.” I remember very distinctly, that was my genuine heart’s desire in surrender. And how many eleven year olds think that? (laugh).. I don’t know but I was thinking about that a lot then. So after that I was kind of looking to see what the Lord was going to do and I was looking forward to what He would do. Sometimes I was wondering, I wonder if she is in Russia right now or if she is in South America or where? But it’s amazing that at the time the Seversons were living in Memphis, Tennessee, her dad had a job at some bank down there and five months after I prayed that Mr. Severson lost his job. It seemed like a pretty bad thing I’m sure for them, but I know that God had a whole lot more understanding of what is best for us than what we can perceive at the moment. Mr. and Mrs. Severson came to Maryland in early Spring, late Winter or early Spring to interview at FCNB and then they came to our church. They were kind of scouting out the area looking for a church and a homeschool program and seeing what was up here. Somehow they got in touch with my Dad so my parents invited them over for dinner on a Sunday after church. They were talking about their children and I hadn’t seen any pictures of the family, I didn’t know what their ages were. Mr. Severson just happened to mention the name “Abbey” and it was very strange but I had this sense, this very strange check in my heart, almost like a lightening bolt that God said, “That’s your wife.” I didn’t know what she looked like or anything. (question from audience: How old were you?) I was twelve years old. At that time I was still looking to see what God was doing because I had surrendered that to Him. I got up and I was kind of thinking about it and wondering, “I wonder what she looks like? I wonder what she is like?” I just surrendered it back to the Lord and entrusted Him with it. But then the Lord led them up here in 1990, I guess it was April or May, May and throughout the years, well ever since they first moved up here I started praying specifically for Abbey and also for Mr. and Mrs. Severson that God would give them wisdom to train their children properly and have the leadership they needed to have. So I remember I met them in May and then we went 7 or 8 months without even seeing them again. But I still prayed for them also and every night I would pray for Abbey and for her parents. I just really, the Lord put a big burden on my heart at that time for them. And eventually God led them to join the Walkersville program in ‘91, the summer of ‘91 and then ‘95 they came to church. It was kind of interesting, my heart’s desire was that they would join the school and then they would start coming to church but I just surrendered it to the Lord and I really couldn’t do much on my own, I just trusted the Lord and He started working out details and amazingly enough they started coming. I couldn’t believe that. I was amazed. I think you (Abbey) wanted to start sharing something here, didn’t you? (Not until December..) Throughout the years I still prayed for them off and on and the Lord was taking me through some of my own trials and refining and working out sin in my life and so that was up until like December of ‘95. And you wanted to share something…

Abbey: I just wanted to share that December of ‘95 was a key year for us because there had been a lot of complacency in my obedience and the rebellion had been really inside. I guess my parents thought that I didn’t think they knew it was there. Well in ‘95 it started coming out in all kinds of little ways. There was a lot of deceit going on behind their back and there was a relationship that happened and my parents found out about it in December of ‘95. I can remember just thinking after they found out that at this point either I needed to leave home and I had somewhere to go, I knew where I could go, or I had to completely change, just do a 180 degree turn around and completely change. I was in my room that afternoon thinking about it and wondering what was going to happen now. My mom had had me doing this Bible course of some sort so I was still reading through God’s Word. And that afternoon I was reading through Psalms in chapter 30 and a couple verses just really convicted me. Well not really convicted but showed me what God could do if I gave Him my life. I was miserable, I was so miserable. I had every single thing I wanted. Every road I wanted to take, I could do it. It was all in my hands yet I was miserable, I was completely miserable. It was Psalm 30:11 and 12 which says, “Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing; Thou hast removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that I may sing to Thee and not be silent O Lord my God I will give thanks unto Thee forever.” And I just told God, I said, “God if You can do that for me, then I can give you my life.” And I did. That was the turning point when I decided to give God my life. I wanted to add that little point in there.

David: I guess I will start in, I’ve always like Abbey a lot and I have always had an attraction to her that when I was younger my parents were trying to encourage me to not be flirting with girls and especially Abbey and to be friends and not to show undue attention to her and lead her on in ways that I shouldn’t be. So it was really a big struggle for me to leave my heart on the shelf as you put it and to rest in the Lord in what He was doing. I was always worried that some other guy was going to get her or something, which was a fear that if that was the case then that was God’s will because God is sovereign, nothing will happen outside of His will. So I was sort of quiet and tried to just rest in the Lord. And I think it was in the Spring of 1997, it was the first time that I actually went to my parents and told them that I was wondering how do I start, how do I go about finding a wife or how do I go about what the practical way of working out a relationship with a girl. They kind of pressed me and said, “Who do you have in mind? Who are you thinking about?” I didn’t want to say anything about Abbey but I told them how I really appreciated how the Lord was working in her heart and life and I’ve seen some big changes and she’s been growing by leaps and bounds and she’s really maturing a lot. So I thought maybe I should pursue something here. When I talked to them about this they said, “Well we’ll pray about it and entrust it to the Lord and He can do it if it’s His will but we each need to rest and to wait on the Lord until we have the confirmation because we don’t want to go pursue anything that’s not His will. The last thing we all want to do is to do something that is outside of God’s perfect plan, God’s best for us both.” I had to put it on the shelf and wait. That was ‘97 and after that point I was able to have a lot more openness with my mom and dad and sharing with them my struggles of waiting and fears and whatever. And this last year I’ve really been praying a lot that God would give me direction in life, to show me what His will was for my life, what His plans were, if I was to get married or if I was to go to college or Bible school or what, if I should continue what I had been doing or what His will is for my life, praying that He would make it clear that I would not continue feeling like I was not sure of what He had for me. I was also still struggling with these desires I had for Abbey. And I was feeling kind of frustrated this last Fall thinking, “Either just take her out of my life and get rid of her, get her away from me or do something. I’m tired of having this constant struggle with this girl.” My heart oftentimes not being able to rest in the Lord and this struggle with my desires for her. It seemed like after I submitted that to the Lord and just asked Him to start working, shortly after that I found out about my cancer in November. I thought, “here goes. I guess this is what God has for me.” When I first found out about it I didn’t think I would live to see the New Year as I told you before. I didn’t know what God had for me but I didn’t think it would be marriage. But that was a big struggle for me especially in December because the Lord knows that my heart’s desire more than anything else is to have a family, to raise a godly offspring. That was just an incredible struggle that I had. More than anything else I’d like to raise a family. So I had to surrender that to the Lord. One day in December my heart was just breaking and crying out to the Lord and He led me to Psalm 89 which was an incredible, it was like God clearly answered me, answered my prayer and answered my fears because I was worried, “Am I going to be cut off? Am I going to not have any family or any posterity which is a future generation? Is my heritage going to be shortened or cut off?” And the Lord led me to this Psalm. I was wondering, “God, have You forgotten about me?” or “Why are You doing this to me?” And Psalm 89 was incredible encouragement. It says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. With my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, ‘Mercy shall be built up forever, Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish forever and built up thy throne to all generations. And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in Heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints and to be had in reverance of all them that are about Him. O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee or to Thy faithfulness round about Thee?” And when I read that Psalm, it goes on another 52 verses, but when I read that Psalm I was just so excited and so amazed and so at peace with what God is doing because it was like He clearly answered me and says, “Yes David, I have not forgotten about you. I still have a plan for you. Everything is under control.” It was like He actually had my name in here. He said, “I have sworn unto David my servant.” I was like, “Wow, He actually answered me with my name!” I could tell that God was clearly reassuring me that not to worry, everything is under control. So I just surrendered to Him once again my desires and entrusted it to Him. And then in early January, Dad surprised me. We went on a walk one night and he said, “If you didn’t have this cancer, what would you do about getting married?” or about Abbey, somehow he brought it up. And so I was really not sure of what to say, just sort of stepped around the issue. And he began to tell me how the Lord had confirmed in his heart that Abbey was to be my wife and I was kind of shocked because at this point I had no idea I would even be able to consider something like that. After he said that I was worried, the last thing I want to do is bring some girl in my situation, ruin somebody else’s life with my problems. I would hate to do that. It is the last thing I would even want to think about doing, bring these problems on someone else as well. But the Lord just impressed on my heart the need to trust Him and walk in faith. It’s a step of faith that we’re taking. I don’t know the future but God knows. God knew back in 1989 that this was going to happen to me and He knew who it was that was necessary to be my helpmate. He knew before then, before anything happened. He was preparing, He had been preparing for many years for this day, for this time, this point in my life. So I just continued to trust the Lord. One of the things that my dad felt is that if Abbey was to be my wife then we needed to get some additional counsel and this was before I knew about surgery, I thought I was going to go through radiation. But he felt like it was necessary to include Abbey in some of the decision making process if she was to be part of my life. She should have some sort of say in what happens in my treatment. So we continued to pray about what to do and then on January 14, my Dad met with Mr. Severson to find out if it was alright for me to approach him about Abbey. I didn’t know how the meeting went. Dad just said, “Oh, it went alright.” I was dying to find out what happened. I was praying the whole day that it would go alright but he didn’t say much about it. Then the next day at the teacher’s meeting in Baltimore, Mr. Severson handed me a note that said, “You’re coming with us. We’re going to take you home.” I thought, “Uh oh. He’s going to interrogate me or something.” I didn’t know why he was asking me to drive home with him. So I said, “Ok I’ll come with you.” And we left early and we stopped to get something to eat. He started asking, “What are your plans? What are your intentions?” Of course I didn’t know that he had given my dad permission to give me permission to go ask him about Abbey, so I was still kind of, I was just keeping my mouth quiet. I really wasn’t saying anything. He was pressing like, “Aren’t you going to say something? Don’t you have something to ask me? What are your intentions?” I finally told him what my desires were and he said, “Ok I just wanted to hear it from your mouth.” So it was a little awkward at first but the Lord worked it all out and I found out later that Dad had forgotten to tell me that I had permission to ask him. Then on Sunday the 16th, we met again to make some plans about how to surprise Abbey and on the 17th I had a little table at the Dobbin House in Gettysburg in front of a fireplace. Abbey didn’t know anything about it. She showed up with her parents and I was there with my parents. I was sitting at the table, next to the table and they walk in and Abbey was totally shocked. She had no idea anything was going on and that was sort of the beginning of our courtship. It lasted one week. And the 23th of January Mr. Severson gave me permission to ask for her hand, to ask her to marry me. I didn’t waste any time. The next day, the 24th, we were engaged at the Dutch’s Daughter in Frederick. That’s just a brief sketch of what happened this last month. Everything happened so fast, I had no idea things would come out this way, this quickly. And the Lord has been directing us through our parents more than anything else. I told Dr. Summers when I was in the hospital that I feel like I’m on a canoe with no paddles and going down the white water rapids and just holding on for dear life. But I have to remember that God has got the canoe in His hand and He’s guiding it down the river, keeping me safe. That’s how I feel about this whole relationship; it has kind of been going so fast. The Lord just keeps on bringing things about in His will and His plan. Did you have anything else you wanted to share? I think you did, definitely.

Abbey: I just wanted to share my side of this whole thing. We liked each other when we were little but it was a lot of flirtatiousness that should not have been there at all and that was not a good thing. But then I kind of went off my own direction, wanted something more adventerous with the rebellion that I had. Not until last January did something change. He had asked for prayer during the share time that God would protect him from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life and that God would protect him during this time at a computer class that he was taking. So right after he got through sharing that, men in the church just started standing up and just praising David for character and for ways they had seen God work in his life. And I was kind of like, “Wow, I didn’t even see those things.” So God just kind of opened my eyes to show me who he really was. And I noticed in February new feelings I had never had before. I was like, “Wait a minute.” So I put them on the shelf and did not tell anyone about them. In July, my Mom asked me, “Is your heart on the shelf, do you have any feelings for anyone?” And I very reluctantly told her, “Yeah, I care for David.” At that point I did not want to get married. I was scared of the whole idea and I didn’t want that. A lot of people in the church and people that I had come in contact with started giving me this free marriage advice and I was like, “Where is this coming from? Why are you telling me this?” And it started scaring me a little bit so I think that is why I was so afraid of that. But God’s timing is perfect and in November when he started having the back problems and the tumors, I started getting really anxious and God just opened my heart, He opened my eyes to show me how much I cared for him and I hadn’t even realized how it had grown so much. I began spending hours in God’s Word. I couldn’t function without that. I needed that, that was my comfort. And I think the main thing that God taught me during that time was trusting. I have a little quote from “My Utmost for His Highest” that I wanted to read. Talking about how to live the Christian life, it says, “The only way is by allowing not a bit of the old life to be left but only simple perfect trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God’s blessings but only want Himself. Have we come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect our trust in Him? When once we see God at work we will never bow our heads about things that happen because we are actually trusting our Father in Heaven whom the world cannot see,” and that sums up exactly what God was teaching me during that time, trusting if He takes away all the blessing. On December 12th, I had been in mental anguish up to that point, not sure what to do with the feelings, just not knowing what was happening with him. I didn’t know if He was going to live or die, it was just overwhelming to me. I felt that I was sinning with the feelings that I had. I didn’t know what to do with them. I was asking God to forgive me, take them from me, do something with them, I don’t want them, take them. That night, my dad had said to me, “Abbey, before this cancer came into the picture I felt that David was the one for you,” based on conversation, things he had seen, the way God was leading him, but since his cancer came he didn’t see a future and didn’t think that David was the one. I just remember just the feeling I got from that, just thinking, “How am I going to deal with this?” I remember Dad just saying, “You have to get your heart back on the shelf, you cannot give him any piece of your heart.” And when he said that, I automatically knew I already had and I didn’t know what I was going to do about getting it back on the shelf if he wasn’t the one. Like I said, I’ve never felt that way before but I wanted to die. I did not know how to handle this. It was just too much for me. Sarah called me the next day and she was such an encouragment, more than words can say. I can’t thank her enough for her friendship. It was the first time I had ever told her what was going on with me and my feelings, she didn’t know and I just really opened up to her. And she just said, “Abbey, the feelings are not sin, that is natural. You need to thank God for the feelings and then give them to Him.” I just remember the freedom that I felt. That was the beginning of that turning point. And then I remembered a message that Mr. Cox had given on Psalm 106. I wrote it down in my journal. It was verse 4, it says, “Remember me O Lord in Thy favor toward Thy people. Visit me with Thy salvation that I may see the good or prosperity of Thy chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Thy nation.” Mr. Cox was saying that we have the favor of God, we can see the vision of good that He has done for God’s people and from there a joy will overwhelm our souls. That is exactly what God did for me. I started writing down everything He has done for me in the past, ways that I could praise Him and I began to see, “Yes I could trust Him, I could give this to Him too.” This joy just overwhelmed my soul and I was just excited about what God was going to do. The trial was still there. I still felt the stress of it but it was from a different angle and I knew what to do with my feelings. I knew how to handle it now. I continued spending hours in God’s Word, just learning and being comforted by that. And then, like David said, on January 17th he completely surprised me. I did not know that was coming at all and we started our courtship and I remember writing in my journal that night, “Yes Lord, to those who delight themselves in You, You do give them the desires of their hearts. O Lord You have blessed me beyond anything imaginable.” Just being so thrilled with what was going on. That whole week we spent hours talking and just going over anything that could possibly be a problem and some things had come up on that Saturday, we were wondering if things were going to go through and again I had to give it back to God and trust Him with what He had. I remember the fears that I was thinking, “What if this doesn’t go through, this has gone too far! I don’t know if I can handle that.” I wrote in my journal the morning he proposed, I didn’t know that Dad had already given him permission, I said, “And now what all of us thought was God’s perfect plan for David and I might not be. God, what are you doing? This uncertainty is hard but I trust You. I surrender my desires and plans to You Lord. Yes, I know that whatever the outcome, no matter how painful is the best most perfect plan You could have for us. With an open hand I give You my desires Lord. Please give me a quiet heart, I love You Lord.” And I wrote that three hours before he proposed. It’s just amazing to me because as soon as I gave up my desires, He blessed and that’s happened so many times in my life. I just wish I would learn it the first time and be done with it. I guess that doesn’t work that way. I also wanted to share that a lot of people feel that we are being impulsive with this decision, with the future that we could have. What I have to say to that is God has put David on my heart. There is no way around it. I can’t prove it but I know that’s the case and God has used our parents to bring this about. We did not bring this about. And He has used other people. David was talking about the Wyands. I don’t know if you said that, we’ve told so many people. The Wyands really confirmed that in Mr. Cox’s heart. I also have to say that I know this is going to be a difficult path based on what could happen but I feel this is my lot, this is my portion, this is the cup that He has assigned and I’m accepting with joy the path that He is taking us on and this is a step of obedience. I just have to obey and follow. That’s what I have to share.

David: I’ve just been amazed at Abbey’s whole heart and how she’s just so willing to give her life to the Lord in whatever He has for her, for us. I still can’t understand why she would have any interest in me. I’m so grateful for her service to me and her help. She’s been an incredible help in the last few months since I got out of the hospital. Last night we went to visit Ralph and Becky Wyand. Becky Wyand works with the Walkerville program. We had a wonderful evening sharing with them our testimony, our story. Then we asked them, “What’s your side of this story? I heard you guys played a part in this.” And she started telling us how Mrs. Wyand especially, I was amazed to hear this but she has been praying, the Lord put it on her heart to pray for me for about three or four years. And she said, “I just felt like God had some big plan for you, all along there was some great thing God was going to take you through.” And when she found out about the cancer, her first thought was, “Well God, I didn’t think this is what I was thinking about here.” And it was just amazing to see how she was praying for me. So all early December, every day, she was praying for me, which I had no idea about. She said sometimes she would wake up at night in the middle of the night and she would start praying for me. One morning she was on a walk and the Lord just told her on that walk, “David needs to get married soon, because of this, through this cancer he needs to have a wife.” She was surprised and she went and talked to her husband about it and they said, “Let’s pray about this.” So they were praying about it seperately and at the same time individually, God put it on both of their hearts that Abbey was to be the one. At first she was worried about what, whatever. So they both shared what the Lord had put on their hearts and were amazed that it was the same person. Mrs. Wyand I don’t know that well at all. I work with her a lot and I’ve known her quite a few years but I’m not a good friend of hers. And here God is putting it on her heart to care for me and pray for me like that. So God used them and they were able to confirm it in my dad’s heart, to reconfirm it in my parent’s heart. It’s amazing to see the way that He has worked. I think that’s all I had to share. There was another point I remembered when you were talking but I forget what it was now. Did someone have a question? For those of you who have not heard, Lord-willing the wedding is scheduled for September 2nd, we have a church reserved. The church is the Frederick Church of the Brethren in Frederick off of Rosemont and Second Street, across from the Shifferstadt house.

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