by Pastor Mark Shupe
My daughter Rachel is getting married in a little over a week and the whole wedding planning process has often left me feeling like the words of the t-shirt in the picture above. I have become way too “Steve Martin”- like (think Father of the Bride movie), as I am informed of what “needed” items cost in what I have come to experience as the wedding industry racket. It seems all the wedding venues, caterers, photographers, videographers, dress shops and dress alteration shops all got together and decided to charge exuberant fees for this once in a lifetime event. All of this has, at times, left me with the empty feeling of “scan for payment.”
Given all the stress and chaos of planning and facilitating a wedding, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and purpose of the holy bond of marriage. In my calmer and more reflective moments, there are some wonderful and deeply meaningful thoughts that I find are truly worth treasuring.
- God’s Provision
As much as anything else, a wedding is meant to be a recognition of and celebration of the goodness and sufficiency of God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).” Rachel and Taylor’s wedding is the relational provision of our good God of each one for the other, and for that I am truly grateful.
- Answered Prayer
The joining of Rachel and Taylor in a marriage relationship is the culmination of a lifetime of prayers. Since Rachel was a little girl, Leza and I have consistently prayed that God in His Sovereign timing would provide the man of His choosing to be Rachel’s husband. We also, not knowing who this person was or would be, were praying for his personal and spiritual growth and development over those years. Once meeting Taylor’s parents, we found out they were praying similar prayers over a similar time frame for Taylor’s future wife who happens to be our daughter. I give thanks to God for answering the lifelong prayers of both sets of parents.
- Reflection of God
In wedding ceremonies that I officiate, I tell the couple that marriage is a place to reflect the relational nature of God. I also mention that a good short job description for their marriage would be “to show off God.” No pressure, but a good marriage is a place where the husband and wife are meant to relate to each other in a manner that mirrors how God the Father, Son and Spirit interrelate with one another. In other words, marriage is a place to live out the Gospel (giving and sacrificing on behalf of the other while extending grace and mercy) each and every day. As I think of Rachel and Taylor’s wedding, I am reminded and challenged to make sure I am relating to my wife in a manner that reflects God’s loving and sacrificial heart.
- Picture of Christ and the Church
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great: but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32).” In addition to showcasing God, the marriage relationship is meant to be a reflection of the intimate and connected relationship between Christ and the church. That one flesh relationship is mysterious and magnificent. This upcoming wedding reminds me of how much Christ loves and pursues His bride, the church, of which I am a part. What a beautiful reminder of such incredible and indescribable love.
Pondering these thoughts, I have been reminded by God to fully engage my heart and mind in the moment. I don’t want to miss what God wants me to experience and express through this wedding celebration. Everything from the emotional tears to the heartfelt prayers of gratitude are part of the celebration worshipping our good and gracious God. That learning is one that applies to all our lives in all situations. Let’s not get too caught up in the chaotic and stressful details of life that we miss the treasurable, life-enriching lessons God wants us to embrace.