What is your favorite part of a wedding? Is it watching the radiant bride walk down the aisle? The exchange of vows? When the pastor says to the giddy, newly minted husband, “You may kiss the bride!” These are iconic moments. Weddings also provide vital opportunities to seize encouragement we desperately need in a broken world.
Last week, I married off my first child and daughter, Abigail. It was a glorious day filled from beginning to end with joyful celebration… and admittedly, some tears.
As I reflected on this experience, I realized in a fresh way that weddings have incredible power to comfort and embolden us as we face disappointments, fears, and frustrations.
First, our lives find meaning within God’s larger story. Isn’t it easy to get engrossed in the details of our own little lives? When our purpose is defined by the selfish words “me-my-mine” we taste the bitter fruit of self-pity, depression, anger, worry, and other woes. Our world shrivels like a raisin, rigid and dark. We lose sight of God’s broader purpose for our lives which is to be part of his story whose plot is redemption.
We are not our own, we were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our relationships are both an end and a means to the end of redemption in our own lives and the lives of others. We are interdependent. We give and we take. We need each other. Marriage in all its complexity is to be a technicolor picture of how redemption works out in the lives of saved sinners. It points to the much more important and eternal relationship of Christ and his church. As such, weddings remind us of our place within God’s larger story.
Second, we find great peace and rest when we follow God’s plan. It is God’s general plan for men and women to marry (for the good and joy of both). God has demonstrated throughout history that he blesses his people when they follow his plan. Even when we fail, God’s plan provides provision for how to get back on track. We find peace and rest when we follow his plan for our relationships. We can embrace it with the expectation that he will bless it and he will redeem, despite cultural disdain.
Third, God is good. Marriage reminds us of God’s goodness. God created all things good, including man and woman. God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Why argue with The One who made us this way? Men and women are gloriously different but complimentary. Our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical differences were designed to bring us joy. Even the lows; the frustrating struggles of marriage when handled with the grace of the gospel, demonstrate God’s goodness as a redeeming God; restoring us to himself and to each other. We can always build back better (to redeem an otherwise euphemistic political phrase). If we still have a pulse, it is never too late. His attributes of sacrificial love, forgiveness, and oneness (all good) intended to accomplish good are all modeled in marriage.
Now, I would like to make two observations.
Parenting Years Fly by Fast. Enjoy Them.
Life is short and our time with our children is shorter. As I prepared my “father of the bride” speech, I was struck anew with this truth as I considered stories about my time with Abigail as a little girl. Those wonderful years were filled with precious moments. But they flew by so fast and I confess that I did not choose to enjoy those years as much as I could have. We do have jobs that need our attention, but our jobs do not ultimately define us. I’ll never forget these sage words, “When you are on your deathbed you will not be wishing you spent more time at the office.”
As parents, we really are circus stars. Raising children is a balancing act that lasts 20 years, not 20 seconds. Actually, the metaphor of a balancing act isn’t exactly accurate because a job and raising children are not equal. But it does convey the idea that we need to intentionally engage the struggle if we are doing it faithfully. Do we seek ultimate significance in our careers that will often rob others, or do we rest in our significance as redeemed sons of the Most High God freeing us to serve others? If it all seems too easy, perhaps we are “out of balance.”
Be Grateful for Our Relationships.
Weddings (and funerals) help us see that our church relationships matter—a lot. I was looking at the wedding guests and each one has played a significant role in our lives. Some of the people were extended family, but many were fellow church members who have been part of our lives for decades. They were there because they were special. Unfortunately, there were many special people who we could not invite but even that realization was a blessing.
Weddings provide a visible reminder that we are not alone. God has given us a community, an eternal family to help us walk with him, especially when we are struggling, which if we’re honest is often. He has made a way for us to have enduring joy, peace, and purpose in this broken world. Weddings are vital reminders or God’s effervescent love and provision for our joy and redemption.
To hear more from Leslee and me about the wedding and our takeaways, please listen to the Home In Him podcast here.