One wedding will forever be etched into my heart (beside my own...of course). I was privileged to perform the wedding ceremony of two close friends, one of which I have literally known since birth. The wedding was held at a beautiful ranch in central Texas and the entire wedding party was invited to stay there for the entire weekend. Natalie and I arranged for our daughter to stay with grandparents, and we took Luke with us expecting the weekend to be full of rest and celebration. Some of our closest friends and family were going to be there and we arrived to find spectacular views, plush sleeping arrangements and the anticipation of a wonderful weekend. I can honestly say the weekend was wonderfuljust not in the way I had expected.
Seventy guests were enjoying the rehearsal dinner and sharing words with the bride and groom when things changed. The groom's step-grandmother was going to her room to retire for the evening. She missed a step on the stairs and fell violently to the ground, with her head hitting first. To make a long story short, a few of us rushed her to the hospital where she later passed away. We drove back to the ranch to find that most of the guests had gone to sleep thinking that she only suffered a concussion and expected to wake up with different news. We made another trip to the hospital to take some family members to see her and pray together. I wept in her hospital room as I watched a husband lose a wife, a daughter lose a mom and thought about the bride/groom's wedding the next day. I went to bed around 3:45 a.m. with a heavy heart, but confident the Lord was moving in us to comfort and heal.
So, before the wedding processional began we shared what had happened and how the Lord had spoken to us. The Christian life is a life of tension: grief and joy. The honest believer has to acknowledge the suffering around him/her or the suffering they are personally experiencing. We live in a world broken and fractured by the fall of Adam. Pain, suffering and grief are our companions in this life. But, the believer doesn't live wallowing in suffering; rather, we experience the tension of joy and the confidence of hope. Christ is our hopetherefore our grief is shaded differently. So, we live in tension, and this is healthy for us. In fact, this is exactly what we see on the cross of Jesus Christ. There was intense suffering, pain and anguish. There is remarkable joy, hope and grace. The cross of Christ was the reason we could have a joyful and celebratory wedding without the weight of guilt. Although our circumstances changed, our object of worship did not. Christ was central, and the tension between joy and suffering kept us in balance.
The wedding and reception was one of the best I have ever attended. It was worshipful and celebratory. Although I didn't get the "rest" I had hoped for, I was refreshed in the Lord in a powerful way. I will give up sleep for Jesus any time. The picture that is burned in my memory is a moment on the dance floor when a couple was dancing and crying at the same time. Beautiful tension.