The greatest love story ever told

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My husband and I recently went on a rare (child-free) date to the cinema. We watched a movie that detailed a beautiful story of romance, one that wasn’t without its share of heartbreak, but told the sad and beautiful tale of this couple’s love. 

There are stories of love all around us (especially during the month of February!)—Romeo and Juliet, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, or Meghan and Harry are some that spring to mind. Inspired by all this reflection on stories of romance, I pulled out a handwritten letter my late grandfather sent me about his own tale of love. It sounds like something out of a movie but I promise it’s a true story.

My grandfather served in the field ambulance (a mobile frontline medical unit, not a vehicle) during the Second World War. His unit’s second overseas appointment was on the island of Borneo, where they cared for both wounded soldiers and citizens. One of their most cheerful patients was a local young lady who had received an injury to the brain caused by pieces of bomb shrapnel. Despite this severe injury, she maintained her joy and acted as a translator (she spoke five or six languages) for the variety of patients who passed through the hospital’s doors. This was the young lady my grandfather fell in love with, and he was not willing to leave unless she was able to return to Australia with him. After being declined approval by superiors to marry his love, he found out one night that his unit was due for departure home to Australia the next morning. 

He knew he had to take drastic action. 

Packing some clothes into a bag he snuck away late that night, walking nine hours along train tracks to reach her hometown. After her family’s approval was given, they were married by a local priest that same morning. Eventually, repatriation was organised and they started their lives together in Australia. 

I wish I could give an account of my grandmother’s version of events, but unfortunately her injury proved too severe and she lost almost all cognitive function several years after arriving in Australia. I did however witness my grandfather’s dedication and love as he cared for her for the remainder of his life.

What is your favourite tale of romance? 

One that intrigues me comes from the chapter of Hosea in the Bible. 

Hosea was a prophet instructed by God to marry a “promiscuous woman” by the name of Gomer. Hosea and Gomer’s life together starts out well, but Gomer just couldn’t let her previous line of work go. After three children, she leaves her husband to return to her former life of promiscuity. In his heartbreak, Hosea is asked by God to go and find Gomer and re-marry her. 

Despite the shame and embarrassment Hosea must have felt, he follows God’s directive. He finds Gomer and pays her freedom from the distress she found herself in, even though she did not deserve his love and care at all. Does this story sound familiar . . . ?

February is often known as the month of love. Wherever you look there are red hearts, roses and advertisements for “the perfect gift”. Even the “recommended” shows on streaming platforms feature tales of love and romance; it really can’t be avoided. But for some, this aura of love can have the opposite effect . . .

If this season has you feeling lonely, sad or unloved there is one story that you can focus on. Your own tale of romance with a God whose love and dedication to you trumps all others. Who took drastic action so you did not have to be separated, and paid your freedom from distress, even though it was undeserved. 

This is the greatest love story ever told.

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