The anticipation was high. Months of planning all coming together in the final moments before the big event. As concerns about the caterer’s last-minute snafu’s faded away as more and more guests filled the backyard of grandma’s farmhouse. The home had been in the family for three generations but Stephanie was the first of the Jones clan to get married there.
They had overcome so much during their engagement. Derek and Stephanie seemed destined for break up after Stephanie’s fling with her ex-boyfriend. Derek was patient and kind, but a guy could only take so much. He stood by Stephanie during the dark hours of the battle for her identity. The stress of planning the wedding seemed to bring everything to the surface. Shame and a marred self-image had been covered up by the excitement of meeting Derek, graduating from college and rising in her new career in interior design.
Stephanie couldn’t understand why Derek wouldn’t leave her as her “yuk” became visible for all to see. He stood by and patiently listened to her shift wildly between thoughts and emotions, many directed at him. Derek had insight. He held on the words He heard the Holy Spirit speaking early in their courtship. “This is the one.” “She is a gem. A treasure in my hand. Stand by her and watch her shine.” Derek also knew the pain of her parent’s divorce would have to be dealt with. He realized money couldn’t cover the pain her heart must have felt as her dreams were shattered in middle school as her Mom and Dad walked away from their vows.
Derek’s patience was otherworldly. When others would have walked away he only pressed in more. Following insight from the Spirit, he realized only love could extinguish the arrows pointed at Stephanie. He was determined to be resolute in his love and unquestioning of his decision to propose. After one of the darkest nights, just months before the wedding Derek got a clue from the Spirit as Stephanie pushed to end their relationship. He simply heard “rejection wants rejection.” At that point Derek realized Stephanie was under the influence of something that did not want love for her, but loneliness. Identifying his enemy, Derek pressed on with a strategy that would soon bring excitement and anticipation to grandma’s farmhouse.
Moved by a vision of the joy of the wedding day set before him, Derek engaged in what he could only call “love warfare.” It was a 21-day assignment to win back his beloved from the clutches of another. His aim was to break her enemy’s goal of exclusion and isolation by loving, accepting and pursuing her like never before. Derek choose to give up food until Stephanie was free. Every day he woke up saying “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” He wrote and hid notes she would uncover on her daily path, he surprised her with her favorite coffee at work, he brought her meals in the evening, but most importantly he prayed and gave her space. He knew what God spoke and believed God was able to accomplish it. Somehow, someway everything would come together. His prayer was unusual. “God this is up to you. I am standing by her as you said, now I’m asking you to do your part.” Day after day he found creative ways to surprise her and day after day he prayed the prayer of faith. He believed God and held God to His promise.
As if the heavens shouted in response. On the night before the 21st day of Derek’s commitment, Stephanie had a dream. On the dream she was on a horse. Not just any horse, but a black stallion. The stallion was out of control. Unlike the horses she helped train on grandma’s farm, this one was unwilling to submit to her prompts and commands. As she made one last effort to pull the reigns and shout, the horse took off for the nearby forest. Fear immediately set in. Knowing she couldn’t navigate the ride or command the horse’s attention, she faced the decision to jump off and certainly break her bones or stay on for certain death. As she dropped the reigns and prepared her launch a loud voice boomed “STOP.” The horse screeched to a halt as she surprisingly found the reigns back in her hands. The voice continued: “BE STILL.”
As Stephanie arose on the 21st day she was struck with the gravity of the dream. She couldn’t think about anything else. Eating nothing and skipping her morning coffee, she drove past work and continued miles down the road until she found herself at the old grove where she used to walk and talk to God. As if being thrown back in time, Stephanie found herself alone, quiet with God and asking questions. “What was that dream about?” Not hearing an audible voice respond, she pressed on “and who am I?” “Why don’t I want to get married to Derek?” Question after question poured out of her. Instead of getting frustrated at the lack of response, she decided to sit down by an old oak tree. Enjoying it’s shade and the late morning light finding it’s way through it’s branches, she found her attention fixed on the extensive root system of the tree. A voice rose up in her heart. “Stephanie. Do you know the meaning of your name?” She knew the thought wasn’t her own. She opened her phone and quickly looked it up. It simply said ‘crowned in victory.’ She wondered why God would lead her to this, but strangely it started to make sense of the dream and everything else. Years before she had a fall from a horse that led her into a coma in the intensive care unit. She was awakened on the 7th day and deemed miraculously healthy with no residual effects. Not until this time did she consider God’s hand on every detail of her life. Her naming, that accident, meeting Derek and an ultimate outcome of wearing a victor’s crown.
She immediately called Derek. “Honey, it’s me.” “I don’t really know what to say but I love you and I can’t wait to get married on the 29th. If you will still have me it would be my dream to have you for the rest of my life.”
Derek and Stephanie’s story is written on many of our hearts. Whether we can see it or not, God has orchestrated the events of history to lead to an ultimate outcome. Regardless of our isolation, rejection, or feeling of abandonment, He seeks us out and draws us in, one by one. The outcome is better than our mind’s can conceive.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22
We shall all awake from our comas. We have sought for life, but we have not found it until He makes us truly alive. It’s a type of “alive” our senses have not known and it’s what we’re made for. No matter how things look today there shall be a wedding. It’s the story God has telling from the beginning of time.