Remember with me, the fairy tales of old. A damsel, a knight and his powerful white steed. You know the way it goes, the damsel is in some dreadful peril and the knight appears suddenly on his grand steed. He wraps his arm around her and rides away from the danger. Aw…. they fall madly I love, and they live happily ever after. My how I loved to pour over these stories as a young girl. Wondering and dreaming about what that would be like, or if it was even something with a possible reality.
These days, I am sorry to say, I have become quite cynical about these stories. Mostly because I have loved deeper then a fairytale could ever go. Fairy tales never mention what happens after the grand wedding, they just say, “they lived happily ever after.” Might I temp the realistic, for a view into those years after they were swept away.
Once upon a time (I figure since I am telling a story, I should start it out right), over two decades ago, God was stirring the heart of a fine young man. He’d fallen in with a crowd, not known for the best choices. But his grandmother, with whom he lived, believed in him, and knelt beside her bed every night, pleading to God on his behalf. Three hundred miles away, in a back woods, log cabin, there lived a very shy girl. Life was a challenge for her, especially since her dad passed away. As is the way with these things, there was much more responsibility then before. She learned a lot about what it takes to keep a home from falling apart. Just sixteen, told she had an old soul, she just did what needed doing, not understanding this idea. Just before her seventeenth birthday, she felt a heavy weight on her heart to pray for a “knight” yes, she still loved the idea of a charming knight, to rescue her her from this hard life. Over the next two and a half years, she’d whisper thousands of prayers. And as time went by, the words became more realistic and less fantasy.
Meanwhile, near the Sound and in a great mountain’s shadow, this boy was becoming a man. His heart was discontented and lonely. His grandmother was there, when he was ready, with answers and bold reminders of a King who had made him an heir. He was seeking, and searching for meaning. God, the king of Heaven, was leading, and so this warrior went to battle. Fought complacency, fears, desire for a purpose and his sin, and celebrated victory with his heavenly Father. God, then felt it was time for him to take a journey, oh what a matchmaker He was too. Yes, you guessed it, He allowed a meeting of the warrior and the back woods girl. Her prayers…. had been for him, and God, cupped her face in His hands and whispered, “here he is… your knight on his steed, has arrived.”
It would be a couple of months before the knight got that memo. But she already knew he was hers. The knight found he shared her affection and made an official proposal. He carved her name and his in an old tree and gave her a ring. And she just knew, he’d protect her and love her for their eternity. They were married and rode off on his white steed, one crisp December evening, to start their adventures together.
As they began their,”happily ever after,” they soon discovered their were parts that were not so happy. But he was a warrior, knighted by a King, and she’d discovered she was becoming more than just a backwoods girl. And that pushed them to fight against adversity. They were young. But what God brought together, He also provided for and blessed and strengthened. Ups and downs had no power over the depths of a love forged in heaven and created but a loving powerful Father in heaven. Soon they shared the four walls of their tiny cottage with four daughters. Grace was asked for daily. The warrior stood his ground and fought to maintain the lines of his home, to keep them all safe and to provide as best as he knew. He and his steed, rode the boundary lines and led the home with energy and courage. His wife and daughter, never doubted his care.
What happened next, proves there is a happily ever after. The steed, so trusted and depended upon went lame. What the warrior had depended on to carry him and take him where he needed to go, was no longer able to do so. His heart struggled, and fought his new turn if events. Who was he without his steed, how he questioned this, how would he provide, protect and care for his family? He realized he took for granted what he had and understood, he must continue on. The promise of his Father echoing in his heart, he stood and walked. It took longer to get to his destination, but he walked anyway. He worried, his wife would see him as less. She reminded him she fell in love with him, not what carried him, or what he did for a living. Not long after the steed went lame, the warrior was wounded. And the biggest battle was yet to ensue.
Things had leveled out, the warrior had learned to walk places and provide a comfortable home for those he loved. And in the middle of a normal routine day, the enemy reared his ugly head in a most unexpected way. He was caught off guard, and sat in devastation and defeat for sometime. His wife, picked up his sword and tucked it under his arm. And they fought a villainous enemy, together. Wicked, painful and exhausting were the darts thrown at them for months. The enemy, wore the mask called cancer, he wielded his weapons most cunningly. Oh, the Father, felt each ache. He stood beside this man and wife and poured out blessings like sweet, healing balm. He held up the other arm and the three walked together through fire, deep waters and gut wrenching pain. The wounded warrior, never looked more amazing to his wife. He never believed that, but his Father, on his other side whispered to him the same, but more powerful love. Happily ever after, was the thousands of prayers, a little more mature maybe, whispered again for the return of the warrior, a healing of his wounds especially the ones of the heart and soul. It is sitting on the edge of a hospital bed, holding hands and having a lengthy conversation, merely with the eyes. It is standing together again at the threshold of a sanctuary, remembering vows, understanding their depth for the first time and figuring out joy is different than happiness. Happily ever after is hearing life here is nearly at an end, and holding each other for dear life, not wanting to be parted, for fear of missing a moment, a smile or a chance to have eye contact. It is not living a fairytale, but living in the light and reality of love. It is whispering promises God made long ago, into his ear and hearing his voice whisper them back for the last time her on earth. It is holding the hand of your beloved one, your knight (steed or not), and your wounded warrior as he passes from here to the gates of heaven.
It never could have been happily ever after, if not for the many years, challenges and battles in between the falling in love and the ever after parts of this journey. Now God holds my beloved, and there is no cancer. And… now God lifts up my arm and I am learning to walk again. I will not say, “The End,” because, though it might seem appropriate, it is only the stuff of fairy tales, not God orchestrated, love stories. One day in heaven we will be reunited. For now I dream of a mighty warrior, who pleads with the Father on our behalf. I dream of the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.