We just had the wedding of Phillip Shay and Emmie Wolters. It was an important event for the Sparta church, as Emmie was raised in the church. It was a special wedding in more than one way. Phillip and Emmie would have a real honeymoon after the wedding. Yes, they dated without sleeping together. Most men as teenagers remember discussing the strategies of getting close to girls with the hopes of sexual fulfillment. You do this and then you do this; the baseball analogy was used in terms of getting to first or second base in order to eventually make it to home. There is a book called "Hooked" that describes the physiological workings in our body as we give and receive these touches. Phillip and Emmie understood these dynamics and chose not to let the touches of dating lead them to sexual activity and instead chose to reserve all touching for after the wedding.
Phillip and Emmie have given themselves and incredible head start in the enjoyment of their marriage. They will have an opportunity to live their marriage with the joy God designed into it by both fulfilling the roles that God has for them, thus “the two shall become one”. We had a marriage ceremony blessed by God. Monday after the wedding Phillip received a call letting him know that he had been selected for a new job he had applied for. When you live in right relationship with God, your marriage partner and all of the other relationships of your life you can expect God to open doors again and again. They have an exciting future ahead of them.
The other element of the wedding was the brokenness of many of the attendees. Their marriages hadn’t turned out so well. The dating experiences of many didn’t lead to a beautiful wedding like the one they were witnessing. This fairy tale wedding set against the backdrop of a battlefield of wounded lovers was at times painfully evident. Yes, we had the Macdonald’s coffee club. The men and women from the generation before mine, one of these couples let me know that they had been married over 50 years. Maybe, this wedding was a glance backwards in time to a time…well you find the words.
I felt all of this as I preached; the joy of the wedding party and the sadness of past experiences. The introduction of comparing a marriage with God’s promise “to never leave or forsake” made sense for this couple but how do the people witnessing the ceremony, knowing that they had violated their own marriage vows, how to they digest these words. I preached through the tension trusting God to minister to each heart in attendance. We had an altar call. No response for salvation. With every head bowed and every eye closed I asked for the wounded to raise their hand to God asking him to heal the wounds of their failed marriages and dating experiences. The hands began to go up all through the building.
I cannot say that I handled everything perfectly, but I know God can. Anyone of these people can call out to God and He will be there to heal and save.