“Friendship is a deep oneness that develops when two people, speaking the truth in love to one another, journey together to the same horizon.” Tim Keller
It is wedding season. Yesterday I did a premarital counseling session after church for one of my favorite couples. This Saturday I’m doing a wedding for two incredible friends from my church. And tonight I did a vow renewal for Patty’s cousin… two of our dearest friends. And I am always so honored to get to be a part of such a sacred moment in two people’s lives.
During the counseling session on Sunday, I was going through the main points of the wedding service, and as we neared the final moments, I described the pronouncement of the couple, and then proceeded to explain the kiss, the introduction of them to the congregation, the recessional…and I looked up at the bride to be and she was just absolutely beaming. And then she said, you’re going to have to go back and say all of that again. I stopped listening after you said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”
It was the sweetest moment I think I’ve ever felt in premarital counseling. Pure joy. All the goodness of what awaited her came flooding in with the reality that it was indeed going to take place. She was caught up in it, for a minute, and I was too. I remembered having that same feeling. So good!
And it reminded me the last time I sat with the couple that I will be marrying this Saturday. For both of them, this is their second marriages, and theirs is one of the most redemptive stories I’ve ever heard. And the first time we met, we prayed about some circumstances that seemed so improbable it was difficult to even hope for. And then, it happened, and all came to pass. And the bride said, “I realize how much God loves marriage.”
And that thought chokes me up. Because the whole thing is such a gift. The gift of children. The amazing shared experiences. The discovery of how to love another more than yourself. The discovery of who you truly are. All of this is God’s amazing school of love. And it is the greatest of gifts.
And tonight, as I performed the renewal ceremony, the vows held such weight. Because the first time we are making them, it is almost completely on faith. Who are we to say, “no matter how hard life gets, I will always be there?” No, it is only with grace that we can utter such a claim.
But ten years down the round, these two know full well what they are recommitting to. And it is deep. And it is beautiful. It has weathered storms, and suffered, and persevered. There are two wonderful children participating in this service, more evidence of the goodness.
And I drive home feeling humbled and honored to officiate. To stand in the midst of this sacred moment and speak of things so far above my pay grade. My heart is filled with gratitude. And I return home, so thankful for Patty, for our kids, and for how much God loves marriage. What an incredible gift.