Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wedding Witness

Anytime I hear of a marriage falling apart, my heart aches. When did we decide that the wedding comes with a revolving door? Is it really a wonder that people push the thought of this “commitment” far away? Will marriage ever again become what God intended it to be and appeal to us once again?

Recently, my husband and I attended a wedding of a girl I used to babysit when I was a teenager. My emotions got tangled up in the day. From embracing the adults in my past that made such an impact on my life to flashbacks of me as a bride, tears blurred my eyes. It was emotional to see children I babysat for in the current stage of life I was back in the day. The bride’s brother closest in age to her was my own ring bearer so it was especially difficult to prevent my mind from wandering back to my own wedding day.

The most difficult moment for my heart to witness was the father walking his daughter down the aisle. The moment has always choked me up but even more powerfully on this day. Not only did I respect and look up to this man and the role he played in my life, but my own dad is no longer alive. It was heart wrenching to recall the way my daddy fought back his tears as he prepared to give me away on that day some fifteen years ago. Now, here I stood witness to the same raw emotions between a father and his daughter with “Butterfly Kisses” playing in the background.

My heart was present at this wedding ceremony and my ears were attentive to the challenge the pastor would give to the bride and groom. What I did not anticipate was the challenge I would hear for myself that day from God. Have you ever thought about your responsibility at a wedding? Are you simply family or an honored guest? What is your relationship to the bride and groom? In that moment, God impressed upon my heart the responsibility placed on me as one of the witnesses gathered.

Here are two young people making vows for life “before God and these witnesses”. “These witnesses” are referring to those of us watching the intimate moment unveiled. Have you ever thought about the fact that you were not just invited to the wedding to comment on the beauty of the bride? We are not in attendance to smile and clap or even renew our own vows with our spouse. As invited guests, we are there to witness a binding agreement.

Vows are being made for a lifetime. Our challenge is to listen to those vows so that should this couple reach the revolving door, we can stop them before they begin to walk out. We can help them remember that vows made before God and a multitude of witnesses were never meant to be broken. Could it be that we are partly to blame for the failed marriages in this world because we refuse to stand up as witnesses and say “I was there that day you promised to share this life together and I am going to do everything I can to help you keep those vows”?

If we were witnesses to a will signing or some other binding contract, we would be called into court to give testimony of what we witnessed. In the same way, shouldn’t we be there to give testimony of the vows we witnessed in a legal agreement on a wedding day? If we would surround ourselves on the day we say “I do” with witnesses who will encourage us to work on this priceless institution of marriage, wouldn’t we be better off?

I am so grateful to know that my wedding vows were not made with an open door. Had I made the choice to leave my husband at any moment, I would have face repercussions. It would not have been an easy out for me and I’m grateful for that. Because, yes, in the early years of our marriage, I probably would have walked right through that revolving door had it been readily available to me. And if I had, I would have missed out on the many blessings of where hard work and commitment have taken my husband and me in these fifteen years.

Commitment is not a welcome word in our world today. Not with work or church and sadly, not with friendships or family. If we cannot keep our commitments that we make before God and witnesses, how will we ever keep any commitment we make? Yes, commitments take work. Very often, we will look at the long road ahead with all the obstacles in our way and wonder how the work can possibly be worth it. But it is. It is so very much worth every effort we put forth.

I am going to seize the challenge I have as a witness to wedding vows. Take this into consideration if you think of inviting me to your wedding. I will encourage you that the challenges and obstacles ahead are worth the work. Any relationship that endures that kind of testing will be gold in the end!

The relationship between a husband and wife was meant to be so much more than what we have turned it into. God intended for our marriages to be a glimpse into our relationship with Him. Could it be that if marriage is done right we might want more of God as well?

Will you join me and take your responsibility seriously the next time you are invited to be a witness to a couple’s wedding vows?

"Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together." - Matthew 19:6

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