Beauty and the Beast: A Love Story

Posted on August 18, 2010 by

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‘Sit down,’ said Agnes, cheerfully. ‘Don’t be unhappy, Trotwood. If you cannot confidently trust me, whom will you trust?’

‘Ah, Agnes!’ I returned. ‘You are my good Angel!’

She smiled rather sadly, I thought, and shook her head.

‘Yes, Agnes, my good Angel! Always my good Angel!’

-David Copperfield

Sophie has asked me to write few words about Christ as the foundation of our relationship. It’s impossible to do this without spending some time reflecting on how God saved and called me, and how He brought Sophie into my life at a critical time and used her to shape the person I am today. In my mind it’s all one story, and so that’s how I’ll tell it.

I was born into a deeply Christian family. Since my earliest memories the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ have always been real and elevated in our family life. At the early age of three, I came to know Jesus as my personal savior. Even at three, this was a life-changing event, and it has radically effected every decision and event in my life since.

Christianity is not just a way of life. It is a life. You start out as an infant and with nourishment and care, you grow to maturity. Growing is a life-long process, but fortunately it’s also a process to which God Himself has personally committed to seeing through:

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it”. – (1Th 5:23-24)

And so it has been for me. Just as I have grown up from that little three-year old boy into a man, so God has been faithful to grow me and shape me to be more like Himself. That is why I have entitled this story “Beauty and the Beast.” Christ is the Beauty – the First and Greatest Beauty – in my life. I am the beast – the poor and helpless sinner whom He been gracious to redeem and to make, slow though it has been, more beautiful.

God has worked through a number of people and events. God doesn’t have to use people and events to do His work, but He does, and it’s very merciful of Him. Of the three most influential people in my life, the first two are, of course, my parents. My father has been a minister of the Gospel for longer than he has been my father, and he has been my greatest teacher. My mother has been influential in modeling for me the character and spirit of a virtuous woman.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” – (Pro 31:10)

I can honestly say that I and my siblings have never seen our mother angry. I am the second of eight, so this is really saying a lot. I cannot express enough how deeply I love my mother.

Other influential teachers included Mr. Reese, who for two semesters taught me Lincoln-Douglas style debate. But he taught me much, much more than this. Mr. Reese gave me a love for research and learning and taught me how to think critically about things. Mr. Reese was a man of the Word, and when he went home to be with the Lord not long after, he left his children and his students a legacy of diligently searching the Scriptures.

At the age of thirteen God called me to preach and to teach His Word. It is a calling of which I am even now only beginning to understand the ramifications, but the only truly fulfilling things I have done since then have all been associated with it. The calling was itself a process in microcosm: first God put within me the desire to do something great for the Kingdom, then he humbled me to the point where I would be willing to “hold the ropes” (Acts 9:25) if that was what He called me to do, and then finally the calling became clear.

I was about fourteen or fifteen when I first got to know Sophie well. It was at a critical time in my life. I had heeded God’s call for my life’s direction, but I was as yet very immature and very self-centered, and this was exacerbated by a particularly unhealthy relationship. Sophie would be an integral part of the next part of God’s plan to mold me.

From the very beginning our relationship was founded on a mutual desire to please the Lord and to become more like Him. Though short on maturity, I was (and pray I still am) long on zeal to live my life in such a way as to bring pleasure and glory to Christ. Sophie, for her part, had a great deal of spiritual depth and a love for memorizing and mediating on the Word. But she also had a unique ability to encourage me to do the right thing and have the right attitude while at the same time not leaving any room for the self-centered and arrogant attitude which was my greatest struggle at the time. So our mutual love for the Lord was the foundation of our relationship, and mutual encouragement and admonition has always been its substance.

So after six years – nearly a third of my life as I write this – it is difficult for me to imagine life without her as a source of encouragement and it is difficult for me to separate her from the story of my spiritual growth, and vice versa. And this naturally flows into how I fell in love with her.

One thing that has always distinguished Sophie and made her different than many other friends that I have had during my formative years is that she has always made me want to be a better man than I am. She is my “good angel” – the Agnes to my David Copperfield, to borrow from Dickens. And so I think it was really a natural progression, as we grew older and more mature, that my brotherly love for her grew into something much more. I can’t really pin down an exact time when this happened, but I first started realizing it in the summer of ’08. All of our friends and family swear to having seen it coming long before then, so who can tell?

When God made both of our hearts ready for it, we began a courtship, and learned to love each other in a new and wonderful way. That was well over a year ago now, and as I am writing this we are less than a month away from what, God willing, will be our wedding day.

I cannot stress enough my deep gratitude to Jesus Christ for bringing Sophie into my life and using her in it the way He has. She is the greatest of the many, many blessings which God has showered upon me. I see in her the favor of the Lord, and my prayer is that He will continue to shape me into the kind of man that will be a strong spiritual leader to my family.

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” – (Pro 18:22)

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