Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4
Shortly after I first met Savannah and her daughter Everleigh, I took some time alone at the beach. The sun had just gone down, which made the scene, as I looked out at the water, extra beautiful. Standing there, with the waves crashing against the sand and the stars beginning to come alive, I felt extra close to God. I felt incredibly blessed. I started praising God and telling Him how good He is. Then I asked Him if there was maybe some bigger purpose in Him bringing me here. “I’m listening, God,” I said. “Please show me.” As circumstances unfolded, I saw that God was drawing us closer to each other.
When we first dating officially, we attended a MOTION conference. It only seemed right that this was the first thing Savannah and I did together as a couple. The fact that we were even together was such a God thing that attending a conference designed to draw us closer to Him seemed perfect. I love to close my eyes, raise my hands, and just praise God. I didn’t know if Savannah would be comfortable with me doing that, much less worship that way herself. It wasn’t like I was putting her to the test during MOTION; this was simply an easy way for me to see if we were on the same page when it came to how we show our love to God. More than anything I wanted our relationship to be God-centered, with Him as our top priority. If a couple can’t express their love for God together, they may not have a long-term future.
My number one requirement for the woman I would marry, far above anything else, was that she love Jesus and want to live for Him.
I also wanted to find someone who was fun and funny and everything else that I found in Savannah. Now, if she had been all the other things but did not love Jesus, this was not going to be a good match. We still could have fallen in love and gotten married, but our relationship would never be what it could be, what God wants it to be, what I want it to be.
As we put God in the center of our lives and our relationship, we saw our faith transform us. We sought God together and in our individual lives as we learned to obey and trust in His ways. We knew that as we walked in faith God’s way, He would show us His plan for our future. Now we use what God has done in our lives to show people what a godly relationship looks like.
When I first met Cole it seemed like a random thing, although something inside me felt it was more. Now I know that something was God. This random meeting wasn’t random to Him. I wasn’t looking for a new boyfriend even though I constantly asked God to someday bring that perfect guy into my life. I was simply praying and trusting that someday He might answer my prayers. At first, I never imagined Cole might be the answer to that prayer.
Before I met Cole, I had a broken notion of who God is. I knew that He’s our Father, and even though I felt my own father loved me, he was imperfect in the way he loved our family. The wounds from that affected how I perceived my heavenly Father. I watched how Cole talked about God and prayed — it was natural, like he was talking to a friend. This was new to me, and I liked how genuine his faith was.
Cole helped me see the truth about how God loves me and He used Cole to draw me back to Him.
Once I started trusting God again, He did all this amazing stuff in my life. I saw what a relationship should be like and the kind of person God wanted for me: someone who brought out the best in me, didn’t judge me for my mistakes, and drew me closer to God. This was God’s way of showing me what I deserve.
Just being around Cole made me want to be a better person. At first, I made changes in my life because I wanted to please Cole. As my commitment to God grew, I surrendered everything to God because I wanted to live like Jesus. I wanted to know Him and get close to Him and live for Him. Although Cole led me closer to God, Cole did not save me. God used him to show me the truth about how God loves me. Then I could open my heart up to God with nothing held back. I could now thank God for my past because it let others see how awesome God’s love and grace really are. God forgave me of everything and not only gave me a fresh start, but He now uses my story to help others find freedom in Him. Only God can do that — He is just so amazing!
To build a relationship centered on God, Cole and I set aside time to attend conferences that would build our faith and draw us closer to God and each other. It was amazing to stand beside Cole, worshipping God, and realizing that this godly guy loves God more than he loves me, and he loves me a lot! We also talked about God on the phone, studied the Bible and discussed questions we had. When we had concerns, we prayed together, bringing everything to God. We talked through everything, cried a lot, and held each other. We kept no secrets from each other. We learned how to communicate through pain and hurt and come out on the other side more committed to God and each other than ever.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. — Ephesians 5:8-10
Lord, You are so amazing! Thank you for the way you draw me closer to you. You use people, circumstances, everything, to help me know you better. Thank you for wanting what is best for me and for your grace and forgiveness that frees me to live your way. Help me to always put you first in my life, and remove anything that stands in the way of me living for you. Use my story to encourage others to trust in you, and thank you for the awesome adventure of being your child! Amen!
Excerpted with permission from Cole & Sav: Our Surprising Love Story by Cole and Savannah LaBrant, copyright Sunshine and Faith, Inc.
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Do you have past pain that keeps you from putting God first in your life? Do you have relationships that don’t have God in the center? Instead of being stuck in an unhealthy place, invite God to take His rightful place in your life. Surrender your past, present, and future to Him, knowing that He loves you, forgives you, and has great plans for your life. Give God your relationships and ask Him to give you the strength to stand for Him—even if it means ending an unhealthy relationship. Know that putting God first in your life means no regrets. He can use your story to encourage others and He is ready and willing to answer your prayers!