Is there anything on earth as sweet as being loved?
Earthly relationships can be beautiful and satisfying. The reflection of Christ in a relationship centered on him is even more lovely. Today as the world celebrates romantic love, I too am celebrating. I am reflecting on all the ways Nelson loves me and rejoicing in the gift of this relationship and the One it reflects.
There have been several ah-ha moments on this journey. Nelson has helped me to understand specific elements of the character of Christ and the bridegroom-bride relationship He has with us (His church). I am going to share with you a few distinct ways Nelson has loved me well.
Grab a cozy blanket, some coffee, and settle in for the most delightful little post I have written yet. I really admire my fiancé, if you have not noticed. After this, you are sure to appreciate him too!
Clear intentions are a mark of a true man! We became friends rather quickly and felt at ease with each other even before we could communicate. It was not “love at first sight” for either of us. Our attraction formed slowly. However, once he knew I was the one he wanted, Nelson did not beat around the bush for one moment. He started his “will you be my girlfriend” statement with “I want to marry you one day.” I was thankful that I knew his intentions upfront and that they went beyond “talking” or “hanging out,” common phrases these days… whatever that is supposed to mean. He wanted to pursue a relationship with me with the intention of it leading to marriage. I did eventually say yes. But it took a whole six months after him asking to begin dating! And another year to become engaged. Often guys (and girls, but I believe the responsibility rests on the guys here as the initiators) these days go into a relationship with little commitment. It is all fun without a serious thought for the future, trying relationships out, tampering with hearts.
From the moment he asked me to pursue more than a friendship with him, Nelson wanted me. Not because I had somehow fooled him into believing I was perfect, but because he had chosen me and knew that requires sticking by his choice even when it is not fun. In the same way, our God wants us. He fully wants us. When He begins wooing us to Himself, He chooses us with all the ugly and the beautiful. He does not go back and forth or beat around the bush. He never leads us on or goes after us for the fun of it to only change his mind. He is straightforward, committed, serious, jealous, and faithful.
You shall be called My Delight Is In Her, and your land Married; For the Lord delights in you… As a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.Isaiah 62:4-5
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.Ephesians 1:4-5
For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.Deuteronomy 14:2
I remember the feeling the first time Nelson took my hand in his, now three years ago. Joy passed through his fingertips into mine and made its way through a channel of nerves to my heart. All that was running through my mind were thoughts of, “I am no longer walking alone on this path of life.” Walking in the same general direction, a few feet apart from others, and walking hip-to-hip hand-in-hand are entirely different. The streets of Haiti used to terrify me while alone at night, but with my beloved’s hand enveloping mine, I am at peace. I can enjoy the beauty of night air and starry skies as I could not before. Once, when hiking down a trail after a heavy rain, he took my hand, leading me skillfully through the mud around obstacles. Instead of falling flat and suffering injury, I was able to walk through it unscathed. Holding hands is vitally important in our relationship. It is a physical sign of what is taking place spiritually. A binding together. A support system. Walking in the same direction (you cannot really hold hands and then walk in different directions, it does not work that way). Some couples, after marriage, slowly stop holding hands. It is a pity how much comfort and unity they forfeit! It is our personal goal that that will never be us.
Since the early stages of our relationship, Nelson’s hand has lovingly led me each step. Figuratively and literally. So too, I have seen my Heavenly Father, my Beloved Bridegroom, do the same for me in a much greater sense.
Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.Psalm 139:10
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”Isaiah 41:13
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!Song of Solomon 2:6
One of my very favorite ways Nelson shows his love for me is the times when he prays aloud for me. He has made a habit of doing so on rides to the airport each time I leave Haiti. Other times Nelson has done this have been after I have walked through an exceptionally challenging season, when I am sick or discouraged, or in the aftermath of an argument that leaves us both emotional. Most notably, there was a time when we were both hurt over rumors spread about us. In the middle of discussing it, he got quiet, took my hands, and began to pray. Do you know how special it is when the man who loves you most prays to the Father on your behalf? He grew 10 feet in my eyes that day! It is a picture of unselfishness, of care, of intercession.
If through the prayers of an imperfect man I have been so comforted and put at peace, how much more comfort should I glean, knowing the Lord Jesus prays personally on my behalf– and He knows what I need.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.Romans 8:26, 27
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.Hebrews 7:25
Also, a bonus verse where a man prayed on behalf of his wife!
And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife… And the Lord granted His prayer.Genesis 25:21
Often I mess up, get upset, say or do things in haste that I later regret. I never thought I could hurt so often someone I love so much. Over and over, I go back to Nelson, sorry for hurting him again. At first, I thought it was mostly our cultural differences that caused the grievances, I have now learned that it is just sin! New to a romantic relationship, I was afraid that I was unworthy of Nelson’s forgiveness. Wondering if his overlooking would run out, and this time, he would not be able to accept me, flaws and all. Needless to say– his love and forgiveness were not so quickly exhausted! He continues to offer forgiveness and acceptance daily. One day it dawned on me– I had some of the same fears and thoughts toward my relationship with God. I had a hard time understanding how it could be true that His forgiveness was endless, even though I knew it from the Word.
My beloved earthly lover has become a mirror by which I see and understand more fully the Father’s love that forgives, forgets, and puts my sins far from me.
Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.Romans 4:7-8
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.Psalm 103:12
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity, overlooking the sin of the few remaining for his inheritance? He doesn’t hold on to his anger forever; he delights in faithful love.Micah 7:18
O tenderness inexplicable! O love surpassing all earth’s loveliest affection! God knows all our wickedness; He has seen all our waywardness, yet His purpose towards us is one of healing and pardon and not of anger and putting away.Mrs. Charles Spurgeon
In these few simple yet profound ways, my beloved has drawn me closer to the heart of God. As a visual, hands-on learner, I have come to understand characteristics of God that I had known in theory before. Besides these– Nelson challenges me, pushes me to be better, encourages me to learn the reasons behind what I believe, comforts me, bears my weaknesses patiently, surrounds me with tender care, and brings great joy into my life. Today as I dwell on this good gift God has given me and the ways He has opened my understanding of Him through the sweetness of earthly love, I cannot help but rejoice!
Whether single or married, I hope that you take this day to reflect on the Love of our Heavenly Bridegroom. The perfect husband, the only one who can love you completely and unconditionally. If you are married (or soon to be), I pray you will also, overlooking flaws, see the beautiful gift God has given you in an imperfect man, an earthly representation of himself. If you are a man, I hope you are inspired to live up to your calling to love your wife well as Christ loves the church.
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.Song of Solomon 2:3