I am always encouraged to read or hear of a love story that truly reflects God's fingerprint, His perfect timing, and the evidence of God in each of the individual's lives. Love stories that were not manipulated or brought about by human scheming; each detail was obviously constructed by our Creator. Love stories that are a picture of Christ continually wooing and winning His bride; loving us when we least deserve it and accepting all of the ugly. Love stories in which the man desires to lead and the woman wants to be led and loved like the church. It helps me to believe that the kind of dreams and prayers that we all should have are not too big.
Our world has begun to accept a love that is far different from that picture. Rather, humanly devised "Hollywood" love stories are accepted as the height of true love and romance. Love that is based upon selfishness, impurity, lust, and fleeting feelings. Love that is a 50/50 agreement; you have to give in order to get. Love that leaves when it gets hard. Love that destroys because it's left to the power of our sinful nature. This kind of love has even made it's way into Christian culture. Just yesterday I heard of a Christian couple in the Christian music ministry that divorced. Upon hearing such news there can be a lessening to our hope. A temptation to become discouraged and give in to the belief that there is no hope for a marriage that reflects God's glory, His faithfulness, and His love even in a Christian culture in which we strive for faithfulness, purity, and hold high the sacredness of marriage.
The love stories this world holds up as a model do not have God's fingerprint on them; they are a poor model for what love is meant to be. A lot of times real-life love stories later fall apart and we're left believing that that if even that couple didn't make it that we thought surely would, what hope do we have. No wonder we have such little hope for our own future marriages. No wonder the dreams that God gave us for something beautiful, extraordinary, and pure quickly become trampled with time and we settle for something less because we don't believe there's anything better. No wonder we, even as Christians, have stopped praying for, dreaming of, and setting the ground for great things in our future marriages. We've come to accept the lie that love is a feeling, that it will always be comfortable, it's for our happiness, that it fills up all of the empty places our heart feels and ultimately satisfies the years of longing. No wonder marriage is deteriorating; no one knows what love really is or what marriage is really for.
I'm a dreamer. But the kind of dreams I have are not ones that I simply talk about, sigh over and come away from feeling hopeless because I don't believe they only exist in a fantasy world. (In fact, after I came away from watching the new Cinderella movie, I was excited to know that God writes even better stories than that! ;) ) I want to venture to dream God's dreams and pray for big, extraordinary things for my life and the lives of others in the area of our future marriages. Trembling, I give over my dreams to a perfectly sovereign Savior. I believe that God has planted a strong call to pray unceasingly and specifically for this area no matter what His plans hold for my life. I have grown in a desire to encourage other young men and women to find again the design God has for each of us. To tune out the voices of a culture that tells us to expect mediocrity, impurity, and unfaithfulness. I believe that we can submit to God's calling for our lives and in turn encourage our generation to be fashioned into men and women who rise up out of the typical and expected and show the world what individuals and marriages can look like when submitted to a God who creates beautiful and incredible things.
My heart holds close the call to encourage young people, young women in particular because I was once the young woman who didn't believe. We live in a world inundated with intoxicating lies everywhere which we tend to believe from a young age. These lies are the trigger which cause many young people to search for love, worth, and belonging in all of the wrong places. To throw away that which is precious, their heart and body, because they don't really believe love is sacred, beautiful, and created to be so by the Lord. Somewhere along the line, sometimes despite good up-bringing, something died because the lies from the world still entered and took root and taught them that love is cheap and easy to come by. That no one could really give us a picture of Christ's love for us because all we see is ugly and destructive love.
As a result of my desire to encourage young people I thought I would share love stories here on the blog that show incredible testimony to God's faithfulness and design for love. These stories have encouraged me again and again when I have begun to lose sight of what I'm praying for and pointing other people towards. My hope is that they in turn begin a re-birth in your heart. That these stories awaken hope again in love that is God-breathed.
You may be familiar with this first story. The story of Ian & Larissa Murphy. Their story first got my attention when Desiring God came out with a video of this couple's story and included a link to their hope-filled blog, ianandlarissa.com. I was so captivated by their story that I visited their blog and went back to the very beginning of their posts so I could understand every detail of why's, when's and how's. Their book Eight Twenty Eight which holds their whole love story had not come out yet and I was too moved to wait to hear every detail and thought process that went in to this beautiful love story that was so marked by our amazing Savior. God used their story in my life to drastically change what I believed about love and marriage.
This second story comes from a blog called (Life Is Too Short Not To) Wear Red Shoes. Susannah Mahar is a very talented and colorful writer and shares in beautiful detail her love story with her husband, Peter. I appreciate writers who are not afraid to be vulnerable and open with their stories for us who are not only hopeless romantics, but those of us who need encouragement. Who need real-life stories that give unashamed glory to the Lord. I've read this story over two or three times and every time it makes me a firm believer not only in God-written love stories, but in the beauty of waiting on God's perfect timing, women who aren't afraid to wait, and men who are not afraid to pursue and lead. Their story is shared in three parts: The Story of Us (Part I) , The Story of Us (Part II), & The Story of Us (Part III) . And for those of you (like me) who say "I WANNA KNOW WHAT THE WEDDING WAS LIKE!", she wrote about that, too in And Then We Got Married.
This story is about none other than my dear cousin, Colleen. It's the kind that makes you incredibly aware of the fact that God cares. That He designed love! That He takes great concern for love stories and uses our desire for love and marriage for oh-so-good purposes. When I was first looking to discover what God's picture was for love and marriage I came to my cousin's blog and re-read and re-read her story about how she met and fell in love with her husband, Eddie and I eagerly wrote down notes from all of her other posts about singleness and marriage. I recommend her story and her blog to you in whatever season you're in. God has used this story in my life time and time again to encourage and give me a true example of what it looks like to wait on His perfect timing and believe that He writes only beautiful things.Their story is titled A Love Story on her blog called Becoming Chao. If you click through all of the categories on her blog you'll discover other incredible encouragement from this beautiful Jesus- loving woman.
This next story was greatly publicized by the media because of who it was about. Bonnie Kate was an Aurora shooting victim in 2012 and survived the terrible injury that left her knee shattered. This twenty-five minute video that her husband, Max, put together tells the incredible story from the beginning to the wedding. Max makes clear that all of the twists and turns and incredible planning was not done by him, it was put together by our awesome Creator. My favorite line in the video is when Max says, "...there are girls out there worth fighting for still and there are guys out there willing to fight."
This next video is a sneak peak into the wedding of a couple named Robert & Brie. I wish I knew the whole story of their relationship because it's very clear from the wedding how Christ-honoring this couple is striving to be. What touched me about this video is the clear desire this couple has to adopt the roles God so perfectly created for a man and a woman to inhabit in marriage. The husband desires to lead like Christ leads and loves the church and his wife desires to submit like the church submits to Christ. A wedding like this is rare indeed and serves as a wonderful encouragement to what a the joining together of two lives who love Christ looks like.
A video production company called Paperback Weddings filmed this beautiful wedding.
This story you may have heard of before. Eric & Leslie Ludy have written many life-changing books directed towards young people who desire to live a set-apart life for Christ. Their books have been used by the Lord to dramatically change my life including the book in which they share their love story, When Dreams Come True. I gave this book to my friend to borrow and while reading it aloud to her on a road trip we took (no better way to spend a long car ride than to read good books to each other!) she broke out in a wide grin with each detail of their story because it was so darn encouraging. The best part about these stories is that they're REAL.
This last story is about Karis & Jacob. This is a story that gives testimony to the beauty of waiting on God's perfect timing. Of laying all of our desires before God's throne and seeing Him make beauty from our ashes.
Karis desired to be the princess that found a prince who would fight for and win her heart and Jacob desired to be that prince. Here is their story!
I hope that each of these love stories birthed in you new hope and vision. A greater faith in the love stories that God writes. Give over the "pen" to God, your Father, and allow Him to write something far more beautiful than you could ever imagine.