Year of Love Stories
It will be remembered as a year of love stories, too.
Intertwined like the verses of Old Testament poetry. Woo and woe. Tears and promise. Song and lament. We will look back one day on this befuddling year, the wheat and tares growing so close together, we’ll be hard-pressed to remember if it was more trial or treasure.
Kyle and I discussed this on our thirty-first anniversary, just a couple of weeks back. Would you relive the whole year to keep the best of it? And of course, it’s a no-brainer. The birth of a grandchild. Building our home. Prayers answered, for ourselves and others. A brother.
And love stories, too.
Our dear friend, Cyd. Her first husband gone ten-plus years, our small group praying for the past several. She’d rather not be always alone. God willing. And God answers, sweetly. First week of December, Cyd and Steve tie a new knot.
And Nissa. Where do I even start telling this astonishing story? We grew up together, cousins, next-door farm neighbors. She moved away, to North Dakota. Never married. Years pass, we’re in our forties, and I work at a church. I meet this man. He brings his children, week after week, and we worship together. One day he tells me in a whisper how he longs for a wife, and do I know someone? Fast-forward another year, maybe longer. My mom asks the same question, about Nissa. I accidentally think of Tom. Not even meaning to say it out loud, but Mom remembers. Another year passes. I keep thinking of them. Nissa. Tom. Until finally I’m convinced this has to be God, and I can’t ignore Him any longer…
Fast-forward, again. 2020, and they’re engaged. So many details I’m leaving out. My cousin, heart as tender as a newborn calf, sweetest naïveté. Half scared to death, half clinging to hope and trusting God. And there’s Tom. Nothing easy about his story, and nothing naive, either. But he’s a rock when it comes to his faith. And so, finally, an autumn day in the year of so much broken, these two most unlikely, speak their vows before a handful of family in a North Dakota farmhouse, and the groom plays his guitar and sings to his bride. A few weeks later it’s the two of them, and his teenaged daughter, sitting by the fire in our brand-new house. Tom has his guitar, and Nissa asks him to sing, (and I mean this) his voice is like that of an angel.
Craziest ways of our Love-Sick God.
He is wooing us, too. I tell you. This year, maybe especially. Our one-day groom, preparing his bride. Can you see the love in His eyes?
He never did say love would come easy. Read the Christmas narrative, one more time. A bride and a groom and the wildest scandal. Who would have ever told it like this?
”A sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:35
A young husband died yesterday, just before the end of the year. He battled cancer, for half a lifetime. Fought hard, courageous. So much suffering, and yet (it would seem, from a distance, watching) he refused, ever, to give up on God. Sometime on the journey, he met a young woman. (We watched this unfold in Facebook posts.) And if Matt was courageous, Katie was valiant, choosing love when most of us would have crumbled with fear. A defiant love story, of heroic proportions. Eternally written on so many hearts.
True love is never born without tears.
This life, with its love song, air of lament. Just the beginning. The prelude. The opening verses. Building. Building. To rapturous chorus. Soul ascension to heart-stopping bridge. Angelic voices, never fading.
This LOVE. Do you hear it? Listen harder. It is there, I tell you. Even in a year of sorrow. The groom is singing. For YOU. Sweetest song for his cherished bride.
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”