“What’s the worst that could happen?”
In the days leading up to Annesley’s wedding (and I promise, this will be the last wedding post – at least until September, when Robbie will again fight back the tears as he walks Hillary up the aisle), the “worst case” scenarios were practically all I heard: A wedding dress destroyed by a red wine-sloshing guest. A caterer who left the dinner plates outside in a snowstorm. Chinese lion dancers run amok, towering over the bride and groom in a loud and somewhat sensual frenzy. (They’d been hired as a “fun surprise” by the MOB, since the newlyweds were Beijing-bound. Surprise!)
None of these stories really worried me. I mean, short of being left at the altar, most wedding whoopsies are not really that bad.
Yeah, well. About that.
Okay, yes: Annesley and Geoff were, technically, left at the altar. But let’s look on the bright side. They were not alone. They had each other. And their four siblings.
I’ll spare you the details (partly because I’m not really sure what all went down, but mostly because I am currently incubating in a sort of post-traumatic numbness that God must reserve for MOBs who live through these things), but somewhere amid the post-ceremony photo flurry, everyone left. The locals left in their cars. The out-of-towners left on the shuttle busses. The wedding party got on their bus, found the champagne cooler, and figured, “Mission accomplished!”
Even Robbie and I left, scampering to our car so as to beat the happy couple to the reception.
Imagine our surprise, a few minutes later, when the cell phone rang and it was Virginia: “The wedding shuttle isn’t where you said it would be. I think they left us. We are all alone. And Geoff just told Annesley to get back in the church because no bride should be standing out in the middle of Atlantic Avenue in a giant white dress, looking for a ride.”
(He had a point.)
Thank goodness for my mom and John, who’d hung back to spy on the proceedings and were just getting into their car when they picked up the distress signal. Grabbing his iPhone, John began filming, even as he tried to shoehorn all six kids into his back seat. Robbie and I showed up in time to extract the bride and groom, but the siblings had already piled in. John peeled out of the parking lot, taking selfies the whole way (“Smile kids! When are you gonna have a story like this again?”), while Hillary urged him to “Just drive!” and Geoff’s brother Matt sat there wondering what he had done to deserve our family and feeling certain that it didn’t really matter because, as he told me later, “I was pretty sure we were all gonna die.”
And all of that was before the reception.
But hey, I’m sure nobody noticed the torn wedding dress (we “fixed” it with about 18 staples and a couple of huge binder clips), the girl-fight over the bouquet (those photos are gonna be priceless), or the fact that the band didn’t come back to the stage for the second set (I found ’em watching the NBA Playoffs on the bar TV).
The list goes on. And you know what? It was GREAT.
And you know what else? God knew it would be. He knows what it’s like to throw a wedding – and to have things go awry.
Think about it. He says that the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding where the invited guests don’t come, where they have to fill the banquet hall with street people, and where an ill-clad guest has to be ejected (Matthew 22). He knows all about receptions where they run out of wine (John 2), or fuel for the lanterns (Matthew 25). And what about the truly worst-case scenario, back in Genesis 29, when the groom wakes up the morning after and realizes he’s married the wrong gal? Now there’s a wedding surprise.
Maybe it’s the old misery-and-company thing, but I started reading up on all of these Bible weddings and, truth be told, the only wedding where everything goes right is Christ’s. We can read the press coverage in Revelation 19: The onlookers are pumped (their hallelujahs sound like thunder), the bride is ready (she’s dressed in fine linen), and the whole thing just smacks of utter, limitless joy.
And the best part about this wedding? The bride is us!
It’s true. When we fall in love with Jesus, he gets rid of our ragged clothes. He dresses us in beautiful robes of righteousness. And he changes our name from “Deserted” and “Desolate” to one that means “My Delight” (Isaiah 62). Weddings just don’t get any better than that.
Sure, Annesley’s big day wasn’t perfect, but I’ll tell you this: It gave me a whole new appreciation for the way God feels about us. I read Isaiah 62:5 this week and, after seeing Geoff’s face when he spotted his gal coming up the aisle, the words fairly jumped off the page. I hope you’ll read them with me today and know that, all whoopsies aside, you are utterly, incredibly loved:
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.