“For from His fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)
God’s love stories are the best because they are infused with His character and love and goodness and faithfulness; they are rooted deeply in Gospel-grace.
This past year has been a whirlwind of experiencing God’s grace and mercy through not only various trials and tribulations, but also through seasons of great joy and peace. In His kindness and favor, He brought the most beautiful young woman into my life and a little over two weeks ago, I asked her to marry me–
Stepping back about thirteen years ago, I remember when I first began to connect the dots in my own mind and contemplate marriage. These desires were new to me, and I had no idea the implications of them. I just knew I wanted to get married. Untamed desires propelled me into the world of teenage “crushes” (just for the record, I dislike that word) and emotionally driven fantasies of romance and problem-free relationships. The longing to be married only deepened as the years went by. While never officially entering into a courtship or dating relationship, there have been others I have pursued–if only in my own heart and mind.
With shattered dreams and frustrated desires, I trudged onward in life–not upward, but onward. The locusts came and destroyed every green shoot that managed to poke its head above the dry and crusty ground of my life. While on the outside I sought to live an obedient Christian life, inward I was torn apart and broken. I walked in the darkness and did not know where I was going (John 12:35).
Marriage and relationships became an idol–a goal that I strove after. But there were areas of sin and weakness in my life that were ever before me (Psalm 51:3). How could I hope to love a woman in marriage someday if God did not have my heart and all my love? How could I hope to live as Christ who gave His life for sinners, when I could not even give up the things of this world I so desired–and hated too?
With flawed understanding and self-centered motivations, I began to walk in a performance based lifestyle, seeking to putting aside (as best I could) the things that displeased the Lord. Perhaps then He would fulfill the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4)?
But God is good–so very good. In His kindness and compassion, He did not allow me to continue walking in this place of hopelessness, deceit and unbelief. Even though I deserve His wrath for the sins that I have done, He not only delivered me from my bondage and rescued me from the darkness, it pleased Him to lavish His grace upon my life.
He has answered my many prayers for true and lasting deliverance from the bondage of sin.
He has instilled in me a deeper (and growing) love for His Word.
He has restored my relationship with my parents and siblings (and continues to sanctify us) where it had been weakened and strained over the years.
He has brought healing into my life in those places where I had failed Him.
He has given me boldness to preach His Gospel to those who don’t know Him (something that I never had).
He has more than met my physical needs.
He has poured out His lavish grace upon me through this beautiful young woman who said YES when I asked her to marry me! How fitting that she is called, Hannah, which means “favor” or “grace.”
God’s grace is His favor towards us–His favor which we cannot obtain through any merit or work of our own. His grace is given freely and without restraint towards those who fear Him and walk in humility before Him. From the time that I first met her, Hannah has been an instrument of God’s grace towards me. I am completely undeserving of this woman, but I am overjoyed and my heart is full of gratitude to God for how He does not cease to show good to us (Jeremiah 32:40-41) before and during our relationship, and even now as we journey in awe towards this life of marriage together.
I used to believe that Psalm 37:4 was supposed to be a means to the fulfillment of my own desires, but God has shown me that the real exhortation and purpose of that verse is that we delight in God because of who He is. And as our hearts and minds and souls become enraptured in the glories of His majesty, He does something beautiful and worthy of trembling within us: He eradicates our self-centeredness and creates in us God-centered desires.
Over the years, I had my own desires and dreams for a wife. As discouragement and hopelessness took over me, my convictions for godliness and maturity of character were lowered. I went even so far as to consider a wife who was not walking in a life of faith. Why? Because I doubted that there was any God-fearing woman who would love a man like me.
But the Lord has done something so far beyond what I ever imagined or dreamed. He has given me new love and life in Him. He has given in greater abundance what the locusts had destroyed (Joel 2:25). I can see so clearly how Hannah is more beautiful and precious, and a far greater treasure than any I had ever hoped for. She is humble and gracious. She is kind. She is an encourager and a prayer warrior. She fears the Lord and humbles herself before Him, acknowledging her own weaknesses, but running to His feet for grace and strength. She knows and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She loves so well.
God’s design is perfect. His plans are glorious. I am humbled. The beautiful thing is that we are both sustained by His all-sufficient grace in love towards one another. We are two flawed sinners in our own flesh, but made righteous and new in Christ Jesus. It is by His grace through faith that we walk forward in love for one another.
Now this verse makes so much sense:
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)
Your ways are higher than my ways, Your thoughts far above my own. That You would give me Jesus is more than enough. I have everything in You. And yet, in the overflowing abundance of Your grace, You have chosen and purposed to pour out your favor over me and bring this beautiful, godly, lovely woman, Hannah, into my life to become my bride. My prayer is that You would never let me forget that this is Your doing, and for Your glory. Be glorified and honored in our relationship and marriage. Magnify Your glorious Name through our lives as we seek to know You and proclaim the glories of Your excellencies throughout the Nations.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.”