An Epic Love Story With God at the Centre: Mine
A Shattered Heart
My heart lay shattered on the ground. Feelings swept over me of stupidity, heart stabbing pain of regret and betrayal because we would not be able to mend our relationship. My current love story relates back to having my heart shattered by my ex girlfriend. The text which read, “Let’s just be friends” left my heart on the ground of deep regret and loss. The main positive from this severely painful experience was that it led me to cling to Christ and return to Him with even more passion. God's grace would sweep away the deep regret and loss like a cleansing stream.
The Fateful Day!
Fast-forward another 5 years to one fateful date in Manila, Philippines. I visited an adoration chapel which just happened to be just across the road from where I was staying.
I had left New Zealand on the 10thof October 2014, thrilled with what lay ahead, with what doors God would open. I did not know the miracles He would enfold in my life on this missionary journey. It was a journey which would lead me to a printer as well as a larger market for my books and the writing of two new ones.
When I was leaving my country my friend emailed me a prophetic word from the Lord. “I hope you enjoy your trip away and again you WILL impact the nation in the Philippines! There will be many more God encounters, connections and time to invest your heart and your dreams will continue to be fulfilled. Your heart will rejoice. The Philippines is such an amazing nation, they are so hungry for God's love and you're heart for those people is so evident so keep doing the great work you are doing there.”
Wow! My heart raced when I read: “time to invest your heart and your dreams will continue to be fulfilled”. Investing my heart and the fulfilment of dreams I knew related to finding true love and, yes God’s way. OK, so how can I make this happen? I had joined a friendship/dating site. So I had a few dates in Manila. I was also swooning seeing so many beautiful women around me daily. To my detriment I let it go to my head and was even too flirty. The flirtation was from at times a lonely heart, and the long wait to find true love. While I kept myself pure, my actions were not always pure.
I had a wake-up call that I was indeed not trusting in God as I should be. I was not living purity through my actions. God even showed me through Sacred Scripture that I should not be chasing so many women. My heart knew I had to slow down, stop and let God do the work.
It wasn’t like the Bible characters who often were given strict instructions, go to so and so and you will find your wife. I wish it was that easy. Yet I also delight in seeing how God’s master plan actually unfolded piece by piece. Here's how it happened.
Extension of Stay
My host encouraged me to continue longer in the Philippines beyond the intended one month so that I could achieve more in my mission. What persuaded me the most was actually that she offered to cover the costs for extending both my visa and the flight. So I extended my visa for the minimum, one month. When that time came to an end I felt I needed to extend again, especially as the Pope was coming to the Philippines and I planned to return for the CFC Singles For Christ International Conference in February.
So after two extensions that fateful day of 17 December arrived. I don’t know what prompted me to go to the adoration chapel on that specific day and at that specific time. But I know it was the Holy Spirit guiding me as well as guiding someone else.
St Francis Adoration Chapel: Divine Appointment
I entered the adoration chapel, surrounded by the peace of God’s love and divine presence. I bowed before my God and then knelt down on a kneeler. I don’t know if it was as soon as I entered that I looked to my right or after a time of prayer. But I remember beauty assaulting my senses. “She’s very pretty” I thought. Kneeling in adoration of the Lord was this beautiful ‘angel’. I kept stealing glances at her. She was flicking through a prayer journal with screeds of handwritten notes. “Wow, she also keeps a prayer journal!” I thought.
I waited and waited for her to finish her time of prayer. I wanted to say hello and give her my calling card (business card). At least we could be friends. It seemed like an eternity and she was still lost in prayer and her prayer journal. I even went up to the glass cabinet in which the Blessed Sacrament resided. I put my hand on the glass as I had observed many Filipinos doing to demonstrate my love of the Lord and receive His graces.
There were no neon lights, flashes of lighting, or booms of thunder declaring this woman was the one. Actually I looked at that ‘angel’ but she didn’t even seem to notice me. I then went to the back of the chapel and sat down to wait. Big mistake! This was a woman of prayer!
I waited and waited for her to finish her time with the Lord but she still did not budge. I waited for people to leave the chapel. “If only we were the only ones in the chapel it would be easier to talk to her” I thought. Finally realising she wasn’t going to finish anytime soon, I wrote on my calling card. I said I was a Catholic missionary and author and like her I love to keep a journal. I left my cell phone number, Facebook details and email address. LOL, I was giving her the best chance to contact me.
With my heart pounding and nerves galore I approached her. What will she think of me? Will she want to keep in contact? I walked up to her and said, “Excuse me. I’m a Catholic missionary and author. Here are my details if you want to contact me.” I gave her the card. I can’t remember if she smiled at me. I think she just looked at me in surprise. Then I walked out of the chapel and I thought out of her life.
A Surprising Reply
That night I was astounded and delighted when I received a text from her.
“Hi Bro Brendan. I feel so blessed having to cross your path and St Francis adoration chapel. I read from your post that you delivered a talk at Quezon City Feast. I’m serving at Ortigas Feast as a Media-ministry head & editor-in-chief. I love writing that’s why I always have my journal with me. I’m thankful to God beyond words. Thank you for approaching me. God bless. By the way, my name is Elly.”
God brought a lot of joy from the text she sent to me.
God's Master Plan Unfolds
I had no idea what God really had in store for us both through this divine appointment. I was astounded when Elly asked me to be her writing mentor. We quickly became best friends. We began a program of running together almost daily, followed by a time of reflecting on the daily readings, sharing and praying together. This deepened our sense of connection as best friends.
I was delighted that she was into living purity and wanting to inspire others to do so too. She wanted to write a book to inspire women to live a life of purity too. I had forgotten how the previous year I posted in Facebook that I would add to my books to write one for Christian men regarding relationships. There was a big tug in my heart that the book shouldn’t be just for women. Men would be missing out big time! Men really needed a book on God centred relationships.
I encouraged her to write at least 5 pages a day as a goal. This enabled her to finish our first co authored book, and her first book in just six weeks. This book is called “Worth the Chase: Finding Love God’s Way”. We did not know how ironic that book would be in revealing ourselves to each other and evening helping to deepen our friendship.
Worth the Chase features a hilarious experience when I was sharing to Elly following Scripture reflection how I was first flirty when I came to Manila. Then a gorgeous woman walked by in a very tight dress when I said “flirty” and didn’t even look at me or skip a beat in her rhythmic tap dance from stiletto shoes. We both laughed so hard from that episode!
Tragic Loss Leads to Love
Then in May of 2015 I was preaching to a SFC assembly from James 1:2-4: “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance...”
I had no idea how prophetic and close to home the statement would ring in my ears when I said “We are to still to have amidst the deepest tragedies, even when a loved one dies.” I was referring that God is the source of our joy and He will bring joy to our hearts even following the death of someone close to us.
When I got home I found several messages from my home, New Zealand. They were urgent messages so I thought that it was my mother who had died. But when I found out that it was my closest brother my world fell apart. I was in complete shock. But God had one angel in store for me, Elly.
We met in Greenfield, a park. We had had a stupid fight that day and yet she was there to meet me. When I told her my distress she comforted me. She held my hand, interlocking my fingers in hers, which was kilig (heart warming) and she stroked my head on her lap.
This comforting eased the pain. I cried in her arms. Then the next day when we met in public we felt an attraction which had been growing.
Thousands of Miles Makes the Love Grow
However I had to return to New Zealand for my brother’s funeral and had to leave my best friend. I was actually leaving a joy in my heart there in Manila.
While in New Zealand we kept in contact through Skype and Facebook and our feelings continued to deepen until on 20 May I asked her to be my girlfriend. I knew I couldn’t leave our relationship as undefined. It was not fair on her. At first her she gaped at me in utter shock. OMGeee how could she not expect it as we had both admitted that we were falling for each other. Maybe it was as a Filipina she always dreamt of the man of her dreams courting her Filipino-style. However she skipped the normal courting practices and accepted. I was ecstatic!
It is True Love!
It is now November and I am back in the Philippines. I have been able to spend a lot of time with the love of my life. Our feelings have continued to grow stronger with God in the center. There are certainly challenges, but these challenges we work through with the author of our Epic Love Story, God our Loving Father.
How ironic that the time to invest my heart, had been only been with one person. We had both been blind to God’s purpose for the both of us. We were both pining after other people. When we surrendered our pain, hopes and fears and trusted in our loving God He surprised us with the person who had been standing right there for six months. It indeed was worth the wait, because our love had a foundation, best friends with God at the center.