Meet Natalie and Chris. This is their story:
“Natalie and I pray that our lives and story would be marked by the Biblical Scripture found in Matthew 10:39 which reads, ‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ I pray this may be evident in our story.
Natalie and I came to the UCLA as freshman in 2010. We both joined the Greek System fall quarter of our freshman year, and though our paths crossed, that is all they did, crossed and then again went their own separate ways. I knew Natalie from a distance. I heard about her. I knew of her. But I didn’t know her.
Throughout the first three years of college, God authored instrumental chapters in each of our lives in which He called us out of the selfish, rebellious ways we were living and called us to Himself, to delight in His glory and grace and begin our pilgrimage to the Celestial City.
In the spring quarter of our junior year, after the Lord had done a work in each of us, God wrote our lives together. We were brought together by a common longing to see and be a part of the name of Jesus spreading to all nations. As we both joined a mission trip to East Asia, we began to get to know each other better during the time of preparation.
On the mission trip, Natalie and I had the opportunity to share the gospel and witness the divine work of the Holy Spirit. We had the privilege to serve at orphanages together, share the Word together, and see radical transformation in the lives of our new East Asian friends.
Upon returning to the US, Natalie and I had a lot to process from our time together. We were able to spend a few days together in LA, but then Natalie headed home to Texas and I to Santa Cruz. I praise the Lord, for this time apart was just what we needed. In this time, we were able to bring all of our questions and confusions before the Lord, and God was very gracious to give us clarity in His will for us. God brought before me the Scripture, Genesis2:18, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’ And though this is not the call for all people, through this Scripture, God gave me a great desire for a companion to walk through this life with. He also grew both Natalie and me to see the beautiful image that marriage is of Christ and His Church, and from this understanding, God grew in me a desire to pursue Natalie in a way that made her feel honored and loved, a parable of Christ’s pursuit of His bride, the Church.
After receiving permission from Natalie’s father, we began to date. We dated for four and a half months, and in this time, God was very gracious in teaching us to distinguish between idolizing one another and loving each other with the sacrificial love of God. We discovered the glory in honoring one another, the difficulty and joy of sanctification, and the beauty in self-sacrificing service. In all things, we were continually brought to recognize our insufficiency to do any of this apart from the strength and grace of Jesus Christ.
Arriving upon the day for which this post arises, February 2nd, I picked Natalie up at 9am with a bouquet of sunflowers, the same flowers I had brought her on our first ‘friend’ date exactly six months ago. We cooked our favorite chocolate chip and banana pancake breakfast. It was Sunday, the Lord’s Day, so we read Scripture, meditating upon the Word and praying together. We then hopped in the car and headed down the 405. We returned to the beach we went to on our first date, sat upon the same jetty, and reflected upon the beautiful work that God was orchestrating in our lives. We then returned to the same lunch spot we went six months before and continued a delightful replication of our first date.
After lunch, we jumped back into the car. Halfway to our destination, I pulled over to the side of the road and blindfolded Natalie. We then drove to a marina. I led Natalie out of the car and down onto the dock where a sail boat was waiting for us. We boarded the ship and headed out to sea. As I lifted her blindfold, she gasped at the brilliant sky over the ocean painted with rays of light erupting with the glory of God. After sailing out onto the horizon, I handed Natalie a letter and two packages to open. The letter told of my love for her and my desire to marry her. The packages contained a notebook with my thoughts and meditations from each day of our relationship that I had written from our first date in August, a meaningful scribble from East Asia, and a picture of us from my visit to Natalie’s home in Texas. As the sun set, I shared with Natalie a poem that I had written her, expressing my love, awe, and devotion to her.
I had waited meaningfully to tell Natalie the words, ‘I love you,’ until this moment when I would make a promise to commit the rest of my life to serving and loving her. As I lowered down to one knee, I asked, ‘Natalie, will you marry me?’ We both knew what this question meant for us – ‘Will you enter into a lifelong covenant with me to display and reflect the covenantal love and faithfulness of Christ?’
She said yes! As she bounced up and down like the innocent childlike girl she becomes when she is overjoyed.
The sailboat turned around, and we headed back to shore to call our loved ones and enjoy a steak dinner in Long Beach before journeying back to my apartment. Upon opening the door, Natalie was surprised by over 100 of our UCLA friends packed into the apartment, greeting us with squeals and congratulations. After thirty minutes of embracing and thanking our dear friends, we sat down in front of the entire room and had the honor of sharing about our relationship, this special day, the saving and redeeming work of the gospel in our lives, and our plans to pursue Christ with our future, knowing that marriage is not ‘finding it’ or ‘finding life,’ but that marriage points us to the hope and glory to come when we are one day wed with our first love Christ Jesus.”