As with many brides, one of the first things Hannah looked for was her dress. We went in large groups and small to every shop within 50 miles, looking for just the perfect dress that would create just the look she wanted. There were many dresses that would have looked very nice but she had to find the one that would define her beauty in just the way she wanted to display it to her groom. She did a wonderful job finding the dress for her and at the price that was right.
But on her day, it wasn't the dress that made her beautiful. It was the radiance that shone from the inside out. It was the joy and anticipation of things to come. It was the thrill of knowing the love of her groom. However, when she prepared to walk down the aisle, my eyes were not on her, they were on the one to whom she was giving herself. It took all of the self control he could muster to stand still. There was no doubt the moment he saw her. His eyes went from anticipation to absolute ecstatic thrill at the beauty that would be his, to have and to hold from this day forward.
The sparkle in our father's eye told everyone that his blessing was on the coming together of these two people as one. It was with pleasure that he put Hannah's hand into Job's, knowing that he was not losing a daughter but gaining a son. Then the pastor pointed out something, I had never thought about before. He said that just as Hannah's father was presenting her to the groom, so also, one day our Heavenly Father will present us (the bride church) to the groom (Christ). That was just a really neat picture and it has since made me wonder if I'm putting enough time and care into preparing for my wedding day as part of the church. Have I even thought about my dress and the beauty that I want to define? Will my beauty shine from within like the radiance of a bride on her day? Do I glow from the love of Jesus? Or do I whine and pout like a child because my house or schedule or car or whatever else still isn't what I want? Hhmm…the Israelites were called children. Maybe it's time I grow up and become a bride instead of a whining child.
My vows to Marty were picked out by Pastor Bob Kutz and I have memorized them and reminded myself many times of what I promised because sometimes marriage is tough. They came right out of I Peter 3, "Marty I promise my beauty will be that of my inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. I am her daughter if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." Am I cultivating the quiet and gentle spirit that is of great worth in the sight of God or am I too busy demanding my rights when life is harder than I want it to be? Am I hoping in God and praying for my husband as I follow him to unknown lands or am I giving way to fear and making the journey more difficult? Tough questions but ones that I need to answer in order to prepare myself for that wonderful day.
Job and Hannah washed each others feet, in a display of what Christ did for his disciples and what He commanded us to do for each other. She was so nervous and grossed out by it. I didn't blame her. Feet are icky. It always sounds nice in the Bible stories we tell but are we really willing to do it? I venture to guess most of us really don't want to because it means to lower ourselves to the status of a servant having no rights. It means considering others better than ourselves and doing the best for them despite what it costs us. What a statement to make in a marriage ceremony as you make vows to each other! Something I noticed when the Bible tells the story in John 13 it says, "3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." Maybe our problem isn't so much being willing to serve but not being confident of who we are in Christ. Jesus knew who He was, He didn't have to prove it to anyone. He didn't risk being thought of as less, because what others thought really didn't matter. Do I focus my worth so much on Christ that I can serve my family selflessly?
My sister Sarah and I did a dance to the song "How Beautiful" by Twila Paris which was to help detract some of the attention off of the foot washing but that also meant the timing had to be just right. Well, Sarah & I practiced and had our timing down and the day before we practiced with Hannah and Job to get that timing right. It all came together perfectly and we were confident that they would finish washing feet and light their unity candle at just the right moment finishing the song with communion. The day of the wedding arrived and a million details had all been sorted through. Many people were working hard to bring everything to that perfect moment but life happens. At the last minute the hall was rented out on the night before the wedding, so decorating fell on new shoulders the morning of. It took longer than we wanted to decipher the plan but very talented friends and family helped to make it stunning. In all the concentration on the hall, the sanctuary details were forgotten. Our Mom and Job's Grandma went up to light their candles and there was no lighter! Chanda had a lighter in her purse but it was in the other room. She ran to get it while everyone giggled and waited. Mom tried and tried but she couldn't get it to light. My brother Josiah leaned over and asked his wife, "That wasn't one that I modified was it?" Finally the candles were lit and the ceremony continued with two worship songs. As we were singing, it was noticed that the wine glass and dish for communion were sitting on the table on the stage - EMPTY! Running into the church kitchen we found two glasses. Hannah had not yet started down the aisle and she directed us to the wine, however, there was no bread. Pizza crust from the rehearsal would have to do. Sarah and I prepared to carry it in as part of our dance. Finally, settling in for the last worship song, I was glad that we had caught those issues before everyone noticed. Chanda tapped me on the shoulder. "There's no water in the foot washing bowl." I could have smacked myself in the forehead. Think fast. Running to the kitchen I found a pitcher and filled it with water. I found a kitchen towel as well. I don't think this is what they had in mind but it would have to do. The water and towel were given to the best man and he carried it in when they all entered the sanctuary. All was settled.
It came time to wash Hannah's feet and Job dipped the towel in the bowl. I hadn't thought about that. I pictured sprinkle and dry. Oh well, it was what it was. The only problem was that Hannah's shoes didn't want to go on wet feet and Job's socks didn't either. This put them behind and the timing was now off. Hannah realized it and tried to move things along. Sarah was concerned about being in front of them during a moment when we shouldn't and tried to correct it but I didn't pick up on it and the two of us nearly collided. In the end, they were pronounced, "Mr and Mrs" so all was still perfect. In fact, few people had any idea anything happened. Even the bride and groom were unaware except that some things were not quite what they had expected.
I wonder do God's angels scramble around us making things be what they should while we are unaware? Maybe those times when we get something unexpected are the times they had to improvise to prevent something much worse. Maybe those times we think they aren't doing anything are the times that we just aren't in the right place to see all that they are doing. Maybe those times when we have nothing to do with a beautiful surprise, is a time when He pulls in friends and family just to give you a special moment to smile.
Due to all the activity preparing for the wedding as well as normal everyday life, Marty and I went quite some time without a moment to speak to each other. We went through the motions of life but there was little connection. One night, I found myself laying awake despite my exhaustion, with fears playing games in my head. By the time Marty came home from work that morning, he had one very tired and upset wife. Finally, I talked to him and looked him in the eye and all of those absurd fears had to flee because they just weren't true and had no hint of truth but in the void they had crept in and tried to divide.
Yet, another way that marriage is a picture of our relationship with Christ. If we don't regularly talk to our Savior, the enemy will sneak in and plant lies in our thoughts that will seem so real that we will act on them as if they are. We will feel disconnected and alone. Problems that are minor will grow into monstrous proportions causing even greater distance and misunderstanding. I have been married for 21 years and even still, if we don't maintain our relationship intentionally, life will pull us apart. We can walk with the Lord for years but if we don't continue to maintain our relationship with Him, we will find ourselves drifting away and being pulled in other directions. It isn't enough to go through the motions of going to church or doing good things, but we need to take the time to connect through the Word and prayer. It is the only way to grow close. I shudder to think of where those pesky fears could have taken us had I not talked to Marty and reconnected. God created us for relationship so why do we think that we can go through motions and not cultivate our relationship with Him but still remain close to Him?
I'm glad God used a bride and groom to give such a sweet picture of His love for us. Job and Hannah did a beautiful job of portraying that in their ceremony and I pray that testimony will only grow stronger in their marriage. Thank you to everyone who helped make the day so perfect!