When God Writes Your Love Story

He knew my wings were clipped. There was no way he understood me. I didn't even understand myself. Still, he loved me and scraped together enough money to get a simple diamond on a gold band. He asked me to be his bride. The boy who could have had his high school sweetheart instead chose me. 

Three years is a long engagement, but he was going to be buried beneath books and syllabi. He was off to medical school. I was entering my junior year in college. He didn’t want to ask me to go with him. He knew that I would be leaving behind a dream. So we waited.

He said he was in it for life. I believed him and I needed to believe him. My family had cracked and broken when I turned thirteen. In hindsight, the three-year engagement worked out a lot of kinks. The time that many thought would be the end of our relationship actually made it stronger.

One week after I turned the tassel and grabbed hold of that college degree, I walked down a church aisle and grabbed hold of his hand, gave him my heart---for life.

We jumped in the car and took a three-hour drive to mountains for our honeymoon. We had to come home early because we ran out of money.

“When twenty-five rolls around,” he told me, “we are going to celebrate. Our second honeymoon, we will do it up big time.”

This year we celebrated 25 years in Paris---the only ten days of our lives when we have spent both day and night together. Ten days without family or friends or kids. We hadn’t fully realized that was true until we were there together alone with no agenda pushing our lives.

We saw the sights, the art, the architecture. Small town folks, we actually enjoyed the challenge of learning to navigate the rail system. We paced ourselves, taking a couple of days out of the city to the Loire, once by car, once by train to see the beautiful places where history had left it’s mark.

On the day, the day twenty-five years later, we made no special plans. We slept in. He slipped down the street to get chocolate croissants for breakfast. We got out our map and plotted out a walking trip to a part of the city we had not seen. Heading out midday we found ourselves outside sitting at a cafĂ© near the Arc de Triomphe. Eating a leisurely lunch, we whiled away time watching people from all over the world visit the famous landmark. 

Afterwards, we strolled our way toward the Parc Monceau stopping along the way at a bakery to pick up tarts for a snack. White residue dusted our shoes as we walked the gravel paths in the park. Finally, we found a place in the shade and we plopped down on wooden slats, a bench painted thick with green paint. We settled in to spend the afternoon.

There were diversions all around---- brilliant flowerbeds, policeman on horses, children playing in sandboxes. A young man was scolded for taking his beautiful golden retriever up on the grass. The dog quarantined outside the iron fence, looked longingly at his master lounging on the grass. Everyone who passed reached down to pet him. The perfect weather brought all kinds of people to the park--- so many people to watch. I was set up for one of my favorite pastimes.

Despite all that activity around us, the conversation on bench drifted toward the day we were celebrating. We talked about the life we had shared---- the good times, the great times, the dark times of sickness and grief, of sin and its consequences. God had been gracious, forgiving, our faithful Companion and Provider through it all.

Our kids, mostly raised, had brought so much joy. No doubt they had been our greatest blessings and greatest challenges, the last one half way through high school. We looked to the future and imagined it changing quickly. In the blink of an eye there would be two at the dinner table.

Time brings many lessons and one we knew. It was glaringly obvious. Even though we were enjoying our adventure in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the real beauty in our lives resided an ocean and more away-----in the place that God has placed in the midst of eternity. The place God planned for us to live, to work, to love, and to give our lives so that we might fulfill his kingdom purposes, our little place in the great big world. Home.

No white gown, no flowers. A mother strolled by pushing her pram. The Parisians sunning in the grass could not have known that the two Americans sitting on the bench were committing their lives again before a Holy God. 

It wasn’t formal. There were no written vows of renewal. On a stunningly perfect spring day in Paris and before our great God, we recommitted our hearts to each other. We made a commitment to share the joys, the sorrows, and the unknown until death do us part.

As we moved from the bench to follow our route, we laughed about coming back to that very place in twenty-five years. Not likely, but still we dreamed.

Hand in hand, we walked past flower markets, and fruit stands, bicycles lined up waiting for renters. We window-shopped down a street with a gentle downhill slope leading us back toward our rented apartment. Tiny cars crammed the spaces along the streets. We didn’t see a single pick-up truck the whole ten days.

Away from the familiar, the perspective of our lives heightened. Away from the mundane of the everyday, we began to see with new eyes.

God had walked with us all of our lives. Taking this time to remember and to celebrate His blessings brought so much into focus. All we could do was thank Him----not just for a romantic trip to Paris, but for letting us see---really see what matters most, that which we carry in our hearts everyday.

Our lives tell a story, His story. We read it from the past and we carry it into the future. New chapters will be written, the letter of our lives. It is a forever story, one that never ends.

Today, I stood in line behind a silver-haired beauty at the eye doctor. She raised her wallet to show the receptionist the picture of the one she loved. "I lost him this year. I wanted you to know he won't be back." My eye caught the picture for just a moment. It was a portrait of her and the one she had "lost."

I couldn't imagine a time when I would tell the receptionist at the eye doctor that "he won't be back." But the encounter today caused me to stop to think of the park in Paris and the commitment we made there. Today life is before us but we don't know the story's outline. We don't know how the chapters to follow will play out. And the reality is, we never have.

We are so blessed that God wrote love into our story.

The girl with the clipped wings has learned to fly but not solo. Healed by God, I was blessed to be undergirded within the safe arms of a man of God who loved and committed himself to the one he chose.

We have said it to one another more than once these few past years as the hairs on our heads have grayed and the lines of time have etched across our faces, "I love you more now than I did way back when." It's true and it is beautiful.

Love never ends.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
   God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
(I John 4:16)

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