His Was A Love Story
Dedicated to Michael P. Serra and Nancyann Serra
Originally written January 10, 2007
Edited December 25, 2020
Life changed for him at thirty-one years of age that Fall while working security at the local marina in West Florida. Her long brown hair, bubbly personality, and a smile that would put the sun to shame captured his attention as she walked into his life. Had he seen the 10-year-old boy successfully playing Hide & Seek, keeping away from her? He had not, but that didn’t keep him from helping her find the little rascal.
The robust Italian security guard intrigued the woman, as well. For weeks after their initial encounter, she would borrow her friend’s dog and take him down to the marina just so she could run into this new interest. Over the course of a month, they talked. They discussed the past and dreams for the future; and, as their feelings grew, single life became lackluster.
In mid-November 1976, the young man could no longer deny God tugging at his heart, so he took the young woman to her hometown church during one of her lunch-hour breaks and sat down with her on the front pew. Looking into her eyes, he took her hands in his and professed his love, asking her to marry him. Of course, she said, “Yes!”
On Christmas Day, that same year, the couple exchanged presents—special watches engraved with 12-25-76 on the back of them. A gift of time. A reminder of cherished moments. A promise for a lifetime of togetherness. An elegant June wedding united the two lovebirds six months later.
As the days following their wedding turned into years, the man started having health challenges. He survived four heart attacks, two triple bi-pass surgeries, and twelve angioplasties, his faithful and beautiful bride always by his side. While the man would tell you “I’m the luckiest man alive to have such a devoted and caring wife,” the woman would tell you, “I am blessed to be serving such a loving husband. God never said life would be easy, only that He’d see us through it, and that’s what He’s doing.” For numerous years, these two beat the odds—sometimes standing on the precipice of death, but always coming back from it.
On December 15, 2006, long-feared news changed this outcome. The man’s doctor came into his hospital room wearing a sullen face. Diagnosis? End-stage congestive heart failure. Outcome? “I’m sorry, but you will never make it to see Christmas this year. Your kidneys have stopped working. It’s only a matter of days—two or three tops.” The husband and wife began praying for a miracle. Christmas meant the world to them.
The two or three days passed, and the man went from lying in bed to sitting up on his own. His breathing improved and his blood pressure stabilized. Tests proved his kidneys had begun functioning again–not great, but well enough for the man to return home in time for Christmas. Reclining in his special chair Christmas morning, a proud smile covered his face. He had proved the doctors wrong. He had lived to see Christmas Day.
Sadly, the couple’s celebration ended that afternoon—thirty years to the day when the man and woman had etched their love on the back of two watches. Their time together had run its course, their love story coming to a close. The skies poured out Heaven’s tears as the woman said her goodbyes–first at home, then at the hospital.
You know, another Man also had a love story. His name? Jesus. He, too, happened to be in his early thirties when the fullness of His love became known. Walking the streets of Jerusalem, Jesus captured many people’s attention with his gentle spirit, calm demeanor, and kind ways. He made time for the less fortunate. He gathered children to Him to share stories of His Father’s love; and He healed the sick, calling sinners His friends. A pure heart made Him unique and sought after as He went about His Father’s business. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a Man like this? But some didn’t. Some people hated Jesus. Some despised His very presence.
Ridiculed. Slandered. Beaten. Jesus became acquainted with the cruelest parts of life on earth. Then they hung Him on a wooden cross and placed a crown of thorns on His head, mocking Him, naming Him KING OF THE JEWS. Imagine the emotion that must have been coursing through Jesus’ veins as He cried out in anguish, “My God, my God! Why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
The universe held its breath as Jesus fought the devil. The bonds of sin bound and suffocated our Lord’s very life. Never had eternity been cloaked in such darkness. Never had circumstances looked so helpless or felt so hopeless. Do you resonate with that feeling? Are you struggling to breathe, to cope, to exist? Jesus has been there. The good news is: the story doesn’t end there.
“The people who walk in darkness shall see a great Light—a Light that will shine on all those who live in the land of the shadow of death,” Isaiah 9:2 (NLT). “For God will break the chains that bind His people and the whip that scourges them….” verse 6. That’s why we celebrate the birth of a baby born in Bethlehem many years ago. He is our Prince of Peace, the air in our lungs. “His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world. This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated Himself to do it!” verse 7. He dedicated Himself to rescuing and saving you…and me. Now THERE’S a Christmas love story. And what a perfect gift!