Dave Brown lay in a fetal position on a Las Vegas hotel shower surrounded by a cloud of steam and despair. The water on his body was hot enough to cause pain, but not enough for Dave. He had disappointed himself and God one too many times.
The road that led the 32-year old to this place began long ago, when as a young man he continually pushed the limits: drugs, alcohol, women, and the party life. He played soccer in Europe, partied with abandon, hustled, bought multiple properties, and amassed a portfolio valued at $4.5 million. He was only 29.
He would head to the bars every Friday after work and start buying rounds for everyone as he eyed women, in search of his next conquest. A friend suggested he was addicted to both drinking and sex. Dave’s response: “Gee. Ya think?”
On Monday morning, he would stumble into work with a splitter and dial his credit card company to cancel his cards; invariably they’d be missing from his wallet. Somewhere along the weekend—a two and a half day black out—he would lose them as he passed them around to his friends at the bar.
Typically, he would feel like himself again by Wednesdays. This gave him three days to work himself to death. No matter how successful Dave was, it never felt like enough. His drinking reached a ridiculous level. Each drink no longer provided the thrill he sought and made his emptiness more pronounced. Where before the ache in his heart lasted for a spell here and there, it was now constant. He hurt all over.
Where before the ache in his heart lasted for a spell here and there, it was now constant. He hurt all over.
His mother suggested he attend a Bible study and get back to his roots. Desperate, Dave agreed. Studying the Bible was life-altering; Dave beamed with hope for a new life. He was feeling confident about his relationship with God as he walked down a Las Vegas street one particular day. He stopped for a bite to eat when he noticed the face of a pretty young woman sitting alone. She noticed him too.
When she approached him, he felt an immediate connection. She’s nice,’ he thought. I wonder why she’s so interested in me.
The water pouring on Dave as he lay on the wet tile provided no relief for what he had just done. Sleeping with a prostitute brought the pain back; it was soul-crushing. He was done. He stood up. “God, I’m yours!” he yelled. “I can’t stand this ache one more day. You’ve got to save me from me!” The love of God came flooding over him. He screamed the name of Jesus and fell to his knees.
Three years later, Dave was a student at the Rock School of Ministry. Sitting around with his classmates one day, he heard a girl say that she would always try to spend time with God at 5am but could never pull herself out of bed.
Dave lived along the same beach and offered to meet and pray for Melissa if she would get out of bed and meet him at 5am. It worked. Each morning she would meet him on the sand where he would ask God to bless her day, and then he’d leave. Total time: approximately 1 minute.
Each morning she would meet him on the sand where he would ask God to bless her day, and then he’d leave. Total time: approximately 1 minute.
It began as a friendship and remained that way. Dave had not dated in years and had decided to remain single for the rest of his life for God. And yet, about 14 months later, Dave came to the realization that something had been stirring inside him for some time: Melissa was on his mind.
He called and asked her to meet him at the beach at sunset. The two friends walked the sand and talked about nothing in particular. As they strolled the pier, Melissa noticed a table with a white tablecloth and flowers. Her heart started to race. When they got to the table, Dave got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage. Secretly in love with Dave, Melissa said yes.
Immediately, Dave felt obliged to tell her something she didn’t know. He was committed to not kissing her until the day they were married. “I’m not trying to get anything from you,“ he told her. “Love does not seek its own. Love is most revealed by sacrifice.” He even tried not holding her hand but Melissa put her foot down. “I want you to hold my hand,” she said in no uncertain terms. He held her hand.
“But you can see what I’m trying to do here, right?” Dave said. “All of the glory of Jesus joining together in purity with His church—I want us to experience that on our wedding day. When the pastor says to me, ‘You may now kiss your bride,’ I want to feel the holiness of that moment.” And so, Melissa and Dave would wait for the big day, 11 months away, to have their first kiss as a way of not blemishing the holiness of the covenant.
As guests arrived to witness Dave and Melissa’s nuptials, “the kiss” was on everyone’s mind. The wedding felt less like a wedding and more like an event.
“The kiss” was on everyone’s mind. The wedding felt less like a wedding and more like an event.
While everyone knew what a kiss looked like, there wasn’t a single person who didn’t feel they had to be there for this particular one. This was quite the couple; Dave and Melissa had chosen to serve their God before serving themselves.
Everyone was breathless with anticipation towards the end of the ceremony. Finally, the moment came. “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the pastor announced. A murmur of excitement filled the air. “You may now kiss your bride.”
As Dave and Melissa leaned in and their lips met, the moment was electric. People clapped, cameras snapped, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Unlike other weddings, guests thought just as much about Jesus taking His Bride as the actual bride and groom at center stage.
Above all, Dave and Melissa felt the full weight of God’s blessing. The joy of this moment was greater than they had ever anticipated. “I have no regrets,” Dave said later. “I have a lifetime to hold and kiss my bride. And I intend to do just that.”