Imperfect Wedding - Perfect God

Last year my niece and her fiancé planned their outdoor wedding to be as close to perfection as possible. Everything was carefully scripted from the white chairs for the guests to the beautiful arch decorated in flowers to the chamber music. It would be any woman’s dream venue for the special day.

The couple dismissed how weather might be a factor. After all, the average rainfall in Arizona for the month is one inch, and the average temperature is between 54 and 78 degrees. Blue cloudless skies are the expected norm.

The long-anticipated day arrived and promised to be beautiful. The guests were seated while the bride and her father prepared to enter. The green grass and the strewn rose petal carpet created the fairy-tale-like atmosphere.

Dad ushered in the beautiful bride, delivering her to her beloved’s arm. Everyone smiled and breathed a sigh of relief while the service got under way. The pastor began the ceremony.

Being outdoors was a fantastic experience. “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered together before God and these witnesses…” Awww, I thought, what  beautiful picture of Christ and his bride, the church.

The perfect wedding was under way. We settled in for the next forty-five minutes and surveyed the verdant setting, which was quite a sight for many of us who had arrived from below zero Midwest weather the day before.

About a quarter of the way into the service, beyond the platform, however, the puffy white clouds dotting the horizon had turned gray, and then navy. The breeze turned into a cool wind. The air was scented with the unmistakable promise of rain, and the crowd shifted with anticipation as the first speckles of moisture clearly disrupted the bride’s hair, the pastor’s suit, and the smiles on nearly every face.

Soon the few wisely prepared guests had begun to block the view as the umbrellas opened and small groups squeezed under the sparse collection for protection. The sky turned darker, nearly ebony, as angry clouds threatened to ruin the pristine day.

I wiggled closer to my husband to hide under his arm, feeling sorry for my niece and her months of anticipation of this day. Time crawled until the section for the vows approached. As the pastor wiped his dripping face, the bride and groom huddled under the clear plastic covering. They graciously giggled as the rain pushed them closer together.

Just as they got to the “I do’s,” those of us without umbrellas were certain the one-inch state average had been reached. Dresses and shirts soaked and clinging, most everyone attending had a collective thought: the perfect wedding was no longer perfect, marred by the unlikely presence of a steady stream of uncharacteristic rain drops.

And then the Lord intervened.

Over head the promise of God appeared, at first faint, and then bright and clear.

“I do.”

The rain did not stop right away, but the droplets turned into a mist, and the mist subsided. The breathtaking rainbow shouted at us all, the spectrum virtually speaking to this precious couple.

The Lord had made a promise to Noah in the sky. Jesus had made a promise in the sky, too.

“I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Would the perfect wedding consuming hours of careful decisions now be known as the imperfect wedding?

Not a chance! Even though we all got a bit wet during the ceremony, there was no doubting the author of marriage had spoken a blessing on this couple.

When our perfect God intervenes, he makes up for anything lacking. This wedding day wasn't ruined or imperfect in any way. Rather, God sent his dramatic sign of promise in the sky. The bride was thrilled to have God send his beautiful sign of faithfulness for all to see.

Four times during the vows, the last song and the recessional, the rainbows in the sky ebbed and then blazed brighter and clearer. Isn't it just like our amazing Lord to send rain to the desert in March? His ways are far beyond our ability to comprehend. 

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 9-11

Thank you, Lord, for your wonderful promises through Jesus, and the reassurance that you are with us always, even in the rain and storms of life. Your presence makes every moment a celebration of this life and the life to come, no matter what happens. Help us to believe that you do all things well. Amen.

He knew all along

i know the plans hhh In a handful of days, my husband and I will celebrate ten years of moments together since we walked up that church aisle as man and wife. Our marriage hasn't been all wide smiles and and pink peonies and bliss, but it certainly has been blessed. He is my match and living life with him makes me a very happy girl.

I look at this photo and grin back at the blushing, beaming, nerves-a-mile-high bride who was a breath away from saying “I do” and stepping into a life with her groom.

What I love most about this photo is the passage on the classroom bulletin board behind me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11 

I didn't notice the verse on the wall until months later when I saw it in this picture. It's like a little God-wink. That fresh-out-of-college bride had no clue what the future would hold. But her God knew.

God knew every failure, every fall, every heartbreak. And He forgave and carried us.

He knew that we would struggle to have a baby. And He used that time for His glory.

He knew we would grow our family through adoption. And He brought us together with our Josiah.

He knew that Josh would leave his work as a carpenter behind and become a pastor. And He planted us in Michigan to serve our church and community and raise our family.

None of this came as a surprise to Him. He knew all along. 

When the unexpected came and threw us headfirst into the unknown, our edges certainly would've frayed if our Savior had not been woven with us. When we unravel in our brokenness, He pulls and wraps us tight and we draw in close.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~Ecclesiastes 4:12

It sometimes feels as though our wedding day was a lifetime and forever ago - much has happened in the decade since then. There has been great joy and loss and hurt and love. There have been arguments and forgiveness, moves and new experiences, plans and parenthood.

Just like the bride in the photo, we still do not know what will come our way in this lifetime. What do we know? That we're safe in our Father's hands. We are weak, but He is strong. We know His plans are better than ours. We can trust Him. Because the One who knows and controls and provides is the One who holds us. We are in this together. We are to give thanks for today and celebrate the beauty our Creator has filled up our life with. We can embrace the unexpected even when it's scary and hard. We must pray that in both hurt and in joy, we will remember God is always good.

And we cling to the Hope that we have. And the perfection that awaits us because of Him - the most beautiful plan of all.