A morning breeze swept through the air, passing over a thin cloak of darkness covering a modest neighborhood. As houses lined by plants and trees intertwined among paved streets, they all seemed to surround a charming, little park, in the midst of which lay a beautiful, symmetric, cobblestone path, weaving and winding throughout dispersed trees and Narnia-type lamp posts. These lamp posts illuminated the dim pathway with an old shade of orange, creating a surreal feeling of being among another era.
As the first birds began to chirp their morning hymn, two pairs of footsteps could be heard strolling down the cobblestone path. These footsteps grew louder and louder until they slowly came to a stop, and a young man and young woman could be seen standing in front of an old, rusted bench. The young man looked straight ahead to the dark horizon and then sat down in silent approval of the spot. The young woman, with a patient aura of gracefulness, sat down beside him, gazing up at the receding stars.
For awhile, they sat there without saying a word, until the young man broke the silence. In a quiet and distant tone, he said, “I think I understand.” The young woman smiled. There was a momentary pause, but then he added, “Should I be getting used to this?” She shrugged. “That’s not for me to decide.” The young man nodded, acknowledging the divine providence of such an occasion.
A slow gust of wind blew around the two as their eyes began to pick up on the dark shades of yellow and red, caressing the distant horizon. It was an early morning in the spring, yet in the midst of such a chilly calm, the two of them seemed to keep warm, almost as if the presence of the other was enough.
After quite some time of peaceful stillness, the young man softly spoke, “Hello.” A sarcastic smile glazed the young woman’s face as she glanced over at him. “Hello,” she replied with something of a composed laugh, “That’s what I wanted to say.” The young man paused, grinned, and took a deep breath. “I wanted to say it this time.” “And why’s that?” she asked, continuing to observe his expression. There was a long pause. The young man’s eyes seemed to quiver as he looked down at his cold hands. “Because, I’ve been wanting to say it for so long, and I thought I’d take you up on your offer.” The young man anxiously twiddled his thumbs as he looked over, gazing into her eyes. “So, hello.”
The twinkle in his eyes melted her heart as blood involuntarily rushed to her cheeks. This being the case, she broke the enchanting gaze and returned her attention to the horizon. The young man, embarrassed by this interaction, looked back to the horizon as well, but then shut his eyes in dismay. His thoughts trembled as half of him wished that when he opened his eyes, she wasn’t there. But when he reopened his eyes, he looked over and saw her there, sitting patiently, adoringly observing the faint shades of orange above the skyline.
She noticed this glance, however, and looked back at him. “Was there something you wanted to tell me?” she asked. He quickly looked away and cleared his throat. “What? Me?” She laughed. “Yes! You! Weren’t you the one that wanted to say ‘Hello’?” The young man acquiesced to her remark and gave in to a huge smile. His eyes attempted to pick up the hint of a rising sun as she continued to look at him.
“I-I don’t deserve you,” he said, blinking multiple times as if to shield the moistness of his eyes from escaping. The big smile on his face suddenly melted into a nervous grin. “And, well, none of this makes sense.” The young woman tilted her head. “What doesn’t make sense?” The young man glanced over to pick up on her questioning look. “Like I said, I don’t deserve you. Why God put you with me, I’ll never know. And so, I feel bad that you have to spend the rest of your life with someone like me. I mean, I’ve made so many mistakes. I have so much baggage, not that I haven’t placed it all at the Lord’s feet, but I have so many things left to work on, and you deserve a guy who can be the guy that you deserve to have: someone who is cool, super intelligent, probably better looking, maybe taller, can grow a cooler beard, maybe less of a stutter and slur on the back of his tongue. An-“
“Stop,” she said firmly with a tear in her eye. Her attention was still fixed intently on the young man as he looked off into the yellowish distance. “Why do you love me?” she asked. The young man immediately looked at her. With boldness, he replied, “It’s a decision! Just like Christ died for the Church, I’m called to die for you. And even though the Church was originally the crowd nailing Christ to the cross, I choose to love you, no matter what. Even if God doesn’t open the first doors between us for years and years, I’m willing to wait, sacrificing for you all the while. Because if I don’t sacrifice for you now, I won’t sacrifice for you then. Love isn’t a feeling. Christ chose the cross, and even His feelings said otherwise! True love isn’t something to fall into, it’s something to grow into! And God’s chosen me to be yours, that’s why.” The young woman nodded in awe and appreciation of such God-given chivalry, as the small tear began to trickle down her cheek. She bowed her head in an attempt hide the tear, but while trying to wipe it away with her sleeve, she shyly looked up with an innocent smile. At the sight of this, the young man broke away from her gaze and looked back to the horizon, gleaming with different shades and mixes of reds, oranges, yellows, and blues.
The first ray of sunlight showed through the trees of the park, turning off the nearby lamp post with a mechanical click. “Why don’t you deserve me?” she slowly asked. The young man’s eyes turned to her, but then veered off of her and into the distant trees behind her. “Because,” he mumbled, “because I know what you are to be.” There was a slight pause, mixed with confusion, resulting in her asking, “How’s that?” The young man looked back down at his cold hands, and leaned over, placing his elbows on his knees. He opened his mouth to speak, but the words seemed to escape him, yet he pressed through with a slight stutter.
“I-I pray for you. Every single morning, I pray for you. Every day, I pray that God will do the most radical things in your life. I boldly go before the throne and I plead with God that you seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I boldly ask Him that you be the next Amy Carmichael, Mary Slessor, Sabina Wurmbrand, Elisabeth Elliot, and Corrie ten Boom of this generation. I pray that your prayer life is that of a warrior-poet. I pray that every demon, including Satan, trembles for fear when you get on your knees and pray. I pray that the gates of hell be torn down at the sound of your bold prayers. I pray, every day, that when you get in the Word, you take every jot and tittle as fact and then throw your life onto the promises of God, knowing full well that He will not fail you. I pray that God will prepare you to the utmost for the war that He has called you and me to fight. I pray that you break away from the youthful lies of this generation and that you stand up as Ezekiel did on Mount Carmel, undaunted by the false prophets of the modern day. And above all else, I pray these things in full faith, in the name of Jesus Christ, knowing that God will not deny me any request that I make for you! And I know for a fact that each and every request will be so. That is why I don’t deserve you because a princess ought to have a prince fit for her hand.”
The young man looked up from his shaking hands and saw the young woman’s eyes streaming with tears. Her sleeves were wet from wiping each tear away, and an adoring smile pierced through her blushing cheeks. This emotion seemed to translate into his veins because his shaking hands seemed to intensify as his moist eyes began to accumulate the ingredients for tears.
“So tell me, do I love you?” she asked in a quavering voice. This question took the young man off guard, and embarrassment flooded through his very being. His eyes widened as he stiffly sat up, and he could feel all of his muscles become tense. He attempted to open his mouth, but his jaw was clenched in fear. How was he supposed to answer a question like that? She continued with a waver in her voice, “For the relationship between Christ and the Church to work, in its full beauty and intimacy, the Church must return Christ’s love in full force. So tell me, will a single drop of your love go unreturned? Doesn’t love provoke more love?” Once more, he was speechless. His eyes began to water with a well of tears ready to explode, and the rising sun reflected these tears with a glorious shimmer. She finished by tenderly saying, “And don’t ever forget, even when you fail to love me as you ought, my focus will never be taken off of the love of Christ, and no matter who you are or what you do, I’ll love you to the death.”
The young man burst into tears as he stood up, turning his back to her. His clenched hand rose to conceal his mouth, as his other arm attempted to support his collapsing chest. He endeavored to step forward, but his knees collapsed, folding in on themselves, and so the young man covered his eyes in shameful agony, hanging his head over the ground. “I-… I-…” “I know,” she said in a soft tone, followed by a creaking of the old, rusted bench. The young man, realizing that she had left the bench, removed his hands for a split second when he saw her gentle, caring eyes, side by side with his. A new rush of humiliation overwhelmed him, as his hands retreated to shield his red eyes once more. “My friend,” she whispered, “it’s you I don’t deserve.”
The young man wept, and wept, and wept. His thoughts had been so full of love for her, he had never once considered the love that she had for him, her future husband. As he slowly removed his hands from over his bloodshot eyes, his feeble knees and elbows barely managed to hoist him up off the ground. He turned around to view the old, rusted bench, where there lay a giant pile of leaves, guarding where she had never sat. And so, acknowledging her absence, he stumbled over to the bench and sat back down. Yet, in the midst of his melancholy nostalgia, he could still hear her voice echoing along the cobblestone path.
“There are yet many doors to be opened,”
“So I’ll trust the Lord to lead me through each and every one,”
“And I’ll always be waiting patiently on the other side,”
“As shall I always long to see you on the other side,”
“And until each door, I’ll be tearing down as many bars as I possibly can,”
“As shall I be tearing down as many bars as I possibly can,”
“For as God leads us through each and every door to follow,”
“We’ll tear down the gates of hell,”