I stood there, frozen. I couldn’t speak or move or even think. Paralysis had overtaken my body, and I felt as if I had entered into some sort of existential stasis in which time stopped. Hundreds of people stared at me, waiting for some sort of response. What lasted for a few seconds seemed like minutes. Then the tears began to flow.
I had just heard these words: “Bruxy Cavey, will you marry me?”
Nina and I had been dating for years, and we had been good friends for years before that. I knew I wanted to marry her, but I had been hurt in previous relationships and I was still carrying around those past pains. Having been rejected before, I had started to view myself as undesirable, so I worried that Nina’s professed love for me was really just an act of pity. She must want to rescue me, I thought. So here we were, letting the time pass, almost married but never committing. Thankfully, Nina was secure enough, and knew my heart well enough, to make the move.
At the church I serve as teaching pastor, The Meeting House, we end most Sunday services with a question and answer time. We call it Q & Eh? (after all, we’re Canadians). And on that Sunday, my girlfriend, Nina, came to church with a Q. Turns out it was the Q of all Qs.
Nina raised her hand when I asked, “Who has a question?” When someone handed her the microphone, rather than ask her question sitting in her seat or standing in front of it, she stepped up onto her seat, as if she was about to make some sort of announcement. I remember thinking, Hmm. This is unusual. Maybe this is Pastor Appreciation Day and Nina is about to make a speech?
Right after she popped the question—“Bruxy Cavey, will you marry me?”—friends who were planted in the congregation stood up and waved giant signs. The signs read:
MAKE AN HONEST WOMEN OF HER!
JUST DO IT!
IT’S ABOUT TIME!
IF YOU DON’T I WILL! (I never liked that guy.)
JOHN3:16! (Just because.)
I didn’t know it then, but hundreds of balloons were well hidden and all set to be dropped from the ceiling. (Nina had the foresight to ask the balloon people not to drop them until I said yes or at least showed some positive sign. She could envision the morbidly surreal scene in which I would say “I’m sorry, I can’t”—the room would be filled with gasps, followed by deathly shocked silence; Nina would break into tears; and balloons would fall in the eerie stillness, like giant clown teardrops.)
So there I was, frozen, with the entire church staring at me waiting for my reaction. Then, after what felt like a year or two but may have been less than a second or two, I began to feel something. Warmth. Peace. Value. It was pouring over me. I felt wanted. I felt loved. I felt worth the risk. I ran off the platform down to where Nina was and we hugged for a long time, surrounded by a cheering, applauding crowd. By this point I was crying too much to talk. I finally whispered yes in her ear, and Nina yelled out to everyone else, “He said yes!” (Cue the balloons.)
That Nina wanted to marry me was the best news I could have received at that moment. But it was more than good news: it was absolutely powerful in a way I’d never experienced power. Now, many years later, I can say that moment changed my life. It exploded my lousy concept of myself and my fears about the future. Her risky declaration of love for me was power-full. It brought immediate healing. It was like years of therapy injected into one moment of time.
Here’s a suggestion: Take a moment right now and try to imagine the best news you could ever receive. Visualize the moment, the person giving you the news, and how you react. What, for you, would be the best news possible? Is it about money? Overcoming illness? A reconciled relationship? Does it revolve around possessions, power, or love? How would it change your life for the better? How does it make you feel to picture that coming true?
Whatever your imagination could dream up is still not as good as the good news Jesus proclaimed.
An early church leader, the apostle Paul, once said that he was not ashamed of this good news because the message itself is “the power of God” at work in the hearts of people who really hear it, receive it, and believe it (Romans 1:16). The word power in that verse is a translation of the Greek word dunamis, from which we get our English word dynamite. This good news—the core message about the core mission of Jesus—is God’s explosive energy. There is something about this message of Jesus that is inherently powerful.
But while dynamite explodes and destroys, the power of this good news heals, restores, and reconciles. It can change minds, save lives, and renew relationships. Truth does this. Ultimate truth does this ultimately.
Later in that same writing, the apostle Paul says “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). When we proclaim”the word about Christ”—the gospel message that God has gone on public record through Jesus to declare that he loves us to death—this amazing good news has the power to generate faith in those who truly listen. And when we believe, when we trust that it is true, our hearts are healed.
This coming May, 2017, my book about this explosive, life transforming gospel message called “(re)union” will become available everywhere. For now, you can pre-order it on Amazon. I’m praying it helps many people encounter the power of God’s transforming love for them, a message that has the power to heal our broken hearts. In the meantime, thank you for praying, and for tracking with this blog. Please remember to sign up for the email notifications.
Almost twenty years ago, one person’s love for me, initiated and declared publicly, changed the rest of my life for good. Thank you Nina. And two thousand years ago, one person’s love for me, initiated and declared publicly, changed my life forever. Thank you Jesus.