We did a wedding yesterday. I'm telling you, we were involved every which way in a day that wasn't related to us. SK was the maid-of-honor, E helped the wedding co-ordinator (a job which usually belongs to SK), and even Beve had the monumental task of keeping the ring bearer in line. No small feat, either. The ring bearer practically stole the whole show, once he was let off his leash and went racing down the aisle, tux and tail wagging toward his master, the groom. Said ring bearer is a little black pug named Guinness, and for all that I have little use for small dogs, he's pretty dang cute one. Not to mention VERY well trained! Beve had to hold him, keep him in tow, cart him to and from the groom's mom's house just for the ceremony.
And I was busy doing sound checks and the like. On Friday night, when I was told I'd be miked up for the wedding, all the female/fashion worry in me rose up in horror. I'd already decided on a subtle, sedate outfit, perfect for a wedding officiant, where I wouldn't stand out but wouldn't look too shabby. But that was a dress. And I've preached often enough to know how lapel mics work. So while I was nodding and smiling, agreeing with everything the wedding co-ordinator was telling me, I was wondering, where, for crying out loud, I'd put the transister part of a lapel mic on a dress? I came home, not one bit worried about the ceremony, or my message (which the bride and groom had only asked me to give three days earlier) but, "WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?" These are the things that try women's souls, I'll tell you that right now. And I'm not even all that fashionable. Most of the time, if left to my own devices, I'd just as soon live in pjs (in the winter, anyway). But I've preached a fair bit, and in those situations I'm pretty self conscious. Of course.
It turned out well enough. I dug through my closet, tried on just about every skirt I own (other than the wool ones), and finally wore a black top I bought about 5 years ago but have never found the perfect occasion to wear. It was all good. I know it's ridiculous that such things should matter, and believe me when I tell you, that I'd give my left leg for them not to, but they do. At least until the right decision has been made, and then I can get on with the business at hand, and stop worrying about it.
From where I stood--and I did have a bird's eye view of the whole thing, it was a beautiful wedding. Lovely setting, right on the edge of a lake, on a perfect summer afternoon with nary a cloud in the sky (on this coast, at least). The bride was drop-dead gorgeous in her dress, the groom had cleaned up very well, and they were earnest and teary as they spoke to each other. It was sweet and good to be with them in their day. To be allowed that privilege.
And it gave me the space to think of how God looks at us when we say our vows to each other. In a sense, I was standing in His place yesterday afternoon. I've never quite had the sensation before of 'getting' what He feels like in such a visceral way. We speak from our very human souls promises to love and cherish each other, but He's right there, so close, He's practically on top of us as we speak, not merely listening to every word, but more often than we admit or even know, actually nudging us toward the very words that come out of our mouths. He speaks them first in us and we merely repeat them. It's how He works.
Not merely on our wedding days, but in all kinds of situations, there He is, standing right there, so that it's His microphone we're using when we lift our voices to the world. And when the world listens to our words, it's because He's amplifying them.
These are very old and wise 22 year olds, older than most, due to the specific circumstances of their lives, but for all that, they are still merely 22. And as I listened to them repeating their vows yesterday, I thought of how little they actually understand of what they're pledging. How can they, though? It takes years and years to get what 'sickness and health' can mean in a marriage, even if we somehow manage to see 'better' and 'worse' within the first season. No, if we actually knew what we were pledging to each other, what it would cost us, what it would require of us, how much more slowly would we speak them? He's the one who knows. He's the one who stands there, knowing how close we should stand, when we should hold on tight, and simply hang on for the ride. He knows.
And His knowing is our safe haven. It's our security. Because once we belong to Him, He never lets go. Not that dressed up day until the day we leave every piece of clothing on this earth.
We are, after all, HIS bride.