What is on the mind of a young man who has just graduated from college and started working full-time? Definitely anything but marriage! Yet, here I am engaged to be married to a bride who is 10,000 miles away! God has a strange sense of humor!
The summer after my graduation, my family and I were planning a three-week vacation to India. Before leaving, my parents had joked with me about finding me a girl in India, and I had firmly said “NO”. The idea was unthinkable because I had lived most of my life in the US, and hardly had a connection to India. This trip was to be a fun vacation exploring Bangalore the home town of my parents, and visiting friends.
Near the end of an enjoyable stay in India, a family friend invited me to share my life story in her church small group. This was just two days before our family was returning back to the US. After I spoke, another young lady named Shirley also shared about her experiences during a summer internship she had returned from in Germany. She was excited about how God had been leading her, and mentioned that she had been accepted into the PhD program there. This did not seem particularly extraordinary because many people go abroad from India to study. However, soon after that, her mother also shared their family’s story, talking about their struggle after her husband had suffered a stroke 13 years prior, which had left him semi-paralyzed. This made me look at Shirley’s story in a whole new light. She was different to most young people I had met thus far. I was amazed at this family’s faith and trust in the Lord Jesus despite their extremely tough circumstances. I believe it was their sufferings that refined their faith: I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10). Incidentally, my parents were impressed too and nudged me, saying that this was the kind of girl they would like me to find as my future wife!
We ran into each other during dinner and we had a short conversation, along with a few other young people there. Shirley intrigued me that evening. I really wanted to get to know her more. She was not on social media at that time, so I gave her my number just before the evening ended. Though our family needed to leave India the following Sunday, we stayed in touch by texting. After I returned to the US, I started communicating more purposefully with my parents’ permission and blessing. Fast-forward to a month later – after innumerable conversations, a lot of prayer, and our parents’ guidance, I asked Shirley to marry me. By now I had come to know that she was beautiful inside and out, refined through the furnace of suffering and sorrow by God. This may seem unusual to many. But as the Bible says, I had an intimate relationship with God as my Father, when I put my trust in Jesus. So you are … a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:7). I had really prayed and asked God to lead me, and was confident that I could trust my Heavenly Father, to give only what was best for me. The Bible promises: And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it”, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left (Isaiah 30:21). So when I proposed to Shirley, I trusted that God would lead me through her response on whether He wanted me to marry her or not. To my delight, Shirley accepted! We went back to India on a very short trip where I formally got her Dad’s permission and proposed to her on one knee with all our family around us! We had a wonderful formal engagement on October 31, 2015 with many family and friends as our witnesses, celebrating the commitment we were making to each other before God.
It’s been a whole year of patiently waiting and living continents apart. Thanks to Skype and WhatsApp, our love has continued to blossom and grow. I long for the day when my beloved bride will arrive here in the US for our wedding, and our future life together.