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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL or DEVOTIONAL piece (04/26/07)

By Mariane Holbrook


When John and I became engaged, I behaved like the average 20-year-old
college student in love. I spoke of no one else, I dreamed of no one else, I preferred
to be with no one else. Our love was wonderfully exclusionary.

I cornered anyone who would listen to my endless recitations of John’s abilities and his sterling
character. In my mind I compared him to every other man on campus and found all the others
remarkably lacking.

Tucked away in a lovely white box with a blue satin ribbon, I kept every love note or missive
that John had ever written to me, memorizing ever endearing phrase, pressing the notepaper
lightly to my lips, taking pleasure with the knowledge that his strong but sensitive hands had
held this same paper only hours before.

Anticipating that great day five months hence when I would become John’s bride, I leafed
endlessly through bridal magazines, desperately wanting to please him on our wedding day,
anticipating the loving expression he would wear when I walked down the aisle toward him.

I printed his name and mine inside a thousand cupid hearts in my spiral notebooks.
Pictures of John decorated the entire wall next to my single bed. My record player droned
all the love songs of the 1950s until my longsuffering roommates sought solace in the empty
classrooms on the first floor of the dormitory where they could study without musical

I was in love.

Then something happened that radically altered my perspective. One morning in chapel, a
visiting speaker quoted something so profound that I quickly wrote it in the back of my
Schofield Bible where it remains to this day:

“Most Christians do not have fellowship WITH God;
they have fellowship with other Christians ABOUT God.”

I bowed my head and wept at the stark realization that I had neglected my Savior and Lord,
Jesus Christ. Completely consumed by my earthly lover, I had ignored the Lover of mySoul.

I had delighted in telling friends that “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was
John.” (John 1:6 NIV) I was the happy recipient of that gift, I’d laugh. I believed then, as I believe
now, that God chose my husband for me. My priorities back then, however, were terribly out of balance.

My dear friends, how many times a day do you and I tell our family or friends about the Lover of our
Souls, about His virtues, His holiness, His power to transform us from abject sinners into men and women
who reflect the character and nature of Jesus Himself?

How many hours do we as born again believers spend alone with Him, telling Him of our love and
devotion to Him, jealously guarding that time together because we feel we cannot face the vagaries of
life without it or without Him?

How many times have we written His holy name in loving script on the tender and fluttering pages
of our hearts, thrilled at just the sight of His name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the most beautiful name on earth.

Until very recently, the preponderance of today’s hymn books were ABOUT God rather than
songs of worship TO God. He, I’m sure, enjoys corporate worship about his attributes but even more
must He thrill to one of His children sequestered in a closet, focused only on Him, singing the love
songs of the Psalms to Him.

How many times do we clutch His Word to our hearts, thrilled at “the wonder of it all.” Such love letters
are beyond our comprehension. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) All we can do is tell Him, “Thank You for loving me and
permitting me to love You in return. With my whole heart, I adore You. I worship You.”

How much time are we setting aside to be clothed in His righteousness, the bridal gowns
that we’ll wear at the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb? How much preparation is being made in
our hearts for this most magnificent of weddings ever known to mankind?

My friends, I don’t want to be ashamed at His coming, wishing I’d spent more time alone
with Him, comfortable in His presence.

Dear Heavenly Father, renew my love for your Son, Jesus Christ, and make me a bride fit for my
bridegroom, for it’s in His holy name I pray. Amen.

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This article has been read 1102 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynn Mosher05/06/07
Beautiful! I loved this piece. I, too, have asked the same questions. Good job.
Betty Castleberry05/06/07
This pack a powerful message. I'm sure at times we are all guilty of not focusing on God as we should. At least I know I am. This is well written, too.
Julie Arduini05/07/07
Very nicely done. You hooked me right away because I certainly could relate, and kept my interest all the way through. Excellent work!
Myrna Noyes05/08/07
Love-ly piece! :) You did an excellent job of comparing our adoration of an earthly lover to our relationship with God. My favorite line was: "How many times have we written His holy name in loving script on the tender and fluttering pages
of our hearts, thrilled at just the sight of His name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the most beautiful name on earth." Your article has sobered and inspired me! Excellent writing!
Cheri Hardaway 05/08/07
A poignant account of what love should be. Until we experience God, we cannot know God as we should. Until He becomes more to us than just an abstract religious concept, something we attend to on Sundays or other special days, we will not know the deep abiding kind of joy and love that He has commanded us to find in His presence. And we are missing out on His grace. Good job. Blessings, Cheri
Sheri Gordon05/08/07
A wonderful comparison of our earthly love vs. heavenly love. I could so relate with the actions of the young bride-to-be, and I smiled remembering. (I've been married 23 yrs now -- and I still feel the same way about my husband.)

Then the message of your story hit me square in the eyes. How much intimate time do I really spend with my one true Love?

Your piece was written very well, and packed a powerful message.
Jan Ackerson 05/09/07
Great hook, and wonderful illustration. I'd like to see this as the devotional for a women's Bible study group.
Jacquelyn Horne05/09/07
Wonderful inspirational article. So true and well written.
Loren T. Lowery05/09/07
Very profound and not an easy lesson to follow. Great job of writing.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 05/09/07
Great comparison. Even though it goes 'ouch' it's a good hurt!
I believe a challenge to change is both inspirational and devotional - thank you
Joanne Sher 05/09/07
Exceptional description in the beginning and wonderful words of lesson throughout (and you can keep your cookies, AND your husband LOL That was admiration, not greed, talking hehe).
Donna Powers 05/09/07
This definitely convicted me. Very clear and profound message. Thanks for sharing it.
Sara Harricharan 05/09/07
The title reminds me of an Elvis song...lol. The message is one I haven't heard in awhile. Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes we all get so caught up in 'life' that we forget who put the 'if' in there. Beautiful writing and a wonderful last paragraph.
Rita Garcia05/09/07
Wonderful, love the ending prayer!
Marilyn Schnepp 05/10/07
A beautiful witnessing statement for all to read and take to heart. A wonderful glimpse of how We Should feel toward the One who holds our very life in His hands. Nicely done! Great Title, And, an awesome and enjoyable read.