Starting a relationship was the last thing on their minds when they were packing their bags and heading to the airport, but our sovereign God is able to bring about His will in any situation – and in any country.
Mike and Sarah are both from the States, where they both attended Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, California. But even though they both studied at the same campus, at the same time, they never met. In fact, the first time they laid eyes on each other was in the Tel Aviv airport, as they set out to study abroad for three months. But as we’ll learn from their story, a lot can happen in three months.
Watching Mike and Sarah together, it doesn’t take long to see why they hit it off so easily. They are both energetic, engaging and sincere. Most of all, they both love the Lord their God with all their hearts – and it shows.
Before they had any thoughts of dates, promises of forever or a shared address, they were friends. Best friends. It was the kind of friendship that would last forever, because it was based on serving and honoring an eternal God.
They went on prayer walks together while in Israel; praying for the country, for the people, and with the people, too. Sarah tells of a time during one of these walks when Mike felt compelled to share the gospel with a rowdy crowd of protesters. Sarah stayed to the side and prayed for him. For a short time, Sarah lost sight of Mike as he disappeared into the unsettled gathering, but he finally emerged, much to Sarah’s relief.
Listening to them share, I realize that this story indicated the foundation on which their relationship has been built: Serving the Lord together, and trusting Him with their future.
Throughout their friendship, God was speaking to them. First, it seems, to Sarah, and then to Mike. Through an amazing series of events and confirmations, Sarah came to believe that Mike was the man God had hand-picked to be her Forever After. She knew God was telling her to keep this a secret, and she also knew she could trust God to bring about what He had begun.
Mike had a wedding scripture. Sarah didn’t know what it was, but she knew he had one. It was through this scripture that their friendship transitioned into a grand romance.
God knows how to reach us. He knows what will penetrate our hearts and open our eyes. One day, as Sarah was writing to a friend, Mike saw that she had written out a verse that had been on her heart, that she wanted to share with her friend.
O, Magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
He read this – his wedding scripture – and then said words I am certain he didn’t envision himself saying when he was getting ready for his day, but words that I wonder if Sarah had imagined and hoped he’d say: “We’re going to get married.“
From this day, it was only a day or two before they had gone to get her finger sized for the wedding ring that would serve to symbolize their commitment and God’s faithfulness.
They had a romance. Not the cheap, manufactured romance you may see portrayed in Hollywood, but a real, rooted in Christ romance. This isn’t to say they spent every moment in church – They slow-danced on a rooftop in Jerusalem. It was a romance. But it was a romance that honored each other, and the Lord.
Having purposed in their hearts to guard their hearts and the heart of the one whom God had entrusted to them, they chose to remain pure until the exchanging of vows and the two were proclaimed one. In this ceremony back in the states, in front of a room full of people who love them, they became man and wife, and he kissed the bride.
This wasn’t their first kiss, but their first kiss after being lawfully wedded. However, they both expressed that if they could do it all over again, they’d have saved the first kiss for the altar. Though they were able to maintain sexual purity before marriage, it wasn’t made any easier in the moments they would kiss. Citing the verse in the bible that cautions us to “avoid even the hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3), they now counsel young couples to maintain a more chaste courtship than even they had.
When asked what she would say to girls who may wonder if maintaining such an unwavering commitment to purity is really worth it, Sarah responded, “You’ll never regret waiting until you’re married.”
Couples like Mike and Sarah are living, breathing reminders that, when we submit our lives – and relationships – to the Lord, He blesses us.