by Tim Sweetman
I know I’m going to cry.
If tears don’t run down my face, I will be thoroughly surprised with myself.
As I’m standing there, waiting, watching, thinking, feeling, and rejoicing, the memories will be flashing through my mind. I won’t even see the family and friends gathered around for the special moment. All I will see is a journey I’ve taken. A long, hard, sometimes treacherous journey that has paused just for a moment at a special stop.
The music will play, and she will appear.
I don’t want to get all sappy, but I’m absolutely sure it will be beautiful.
And I’m probably going to cry. Because I know I don’t deserve it, yet God in his grace has blessed me in an incredible way. And I will be totally and completely in love. Starstruck and spellbound. Probably even “twitterpated,” like the cute little bunny rabbits on Bambi.
But I know this single moment won’t last forever.
I was on a vacation recently (sadly, a very short vacation) with my family. We all were up in a part of the country that attracts a lot of older folks, who love the slow pace of life that this particular vacation spot offers.
I really should get this off my chest: Older people once made me angry. I always saw them as the reason that my mom shushed me, or forced me to drag open the door, or forbid me from practicing and performing cannon balls in the swimming pool at the hotel.
Nowadays, when I see older folks, I just can’t help but swell up with joy. And when I see an older couple, well, I just can’t help but smile. Sometimes I want to be just like them. I know it’s weird. The ads lining my Facebook wall are all begging me to jump in and enjoy the “good” life right now. I switch on the television and fun-for-the-moment begs for my attention. The magazines at the store sing out a different and destructive tune.
The lies are everywhere.
But even in the midst of this, I can’t quite get the image of the elderly couple sitting across from each other holding hand at the restaurant last night out of my head. Maybe I’m sentimental. Maybe I’m a little emotional.
Or maybe it just reminds of a deeper truth.
Paul was nearing his final days on this earth. He found himself chained in a damp cell, writing down his last words, which are recorded for us in his letter to his dear young friend and pastor, Timothy. In this book, he tells his dear friend and brother in Christ:
“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
How are we to treat our father and mother? We are, of course, to honor our father and mother. To respect them, to listen to them. Why? First of all God has commanded it. And He knows what He’s doing. If I had no example of how to live or act, I would be totally and completely lost. Paul knew what he was talking about. He knew the older folks in our lives have something special that us young people need to hear and listen to.
It’s called wisdom.
But first, a quick field trip. We find ourselves on a hillside, in darkness.
This is Calvary, this is the cross, there is a man. His name is Jesus. He has lived a perfect life, a life that deserves no punishment. Yet there is he is. Bloodied, bruised, ripped apart in front of our eyes.
And it’s my fault.
I’m the reason He is hanging on that cross like a piece of meat. My sin is what holds Him there. It’s incredible. Paul says “he humbled himself, even to death on a cross.” And I am called to follow that example – humility even to death. I am to called to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Man upon the cross. And because of his example – an example of humility, I am called to be humble as well. I am called to live as he lived, and to follow his example in every aspect of my life.
Back to the godly older couple. I have been called to look to their example like I’m called to look at the example of Christ. They have wisdom that I so desperately need.
Let’s face it, I’m arrogant. I always think that I have it all together. I feel as if I don’t need to worry about the future, because I’ve got it in control right now.
That’s wrong. God has called us to pursue wisdom because in our youth we need it like nothing else. There is not a magical moment where wisdom will suddenly appear in my life.
Maybe you can relate.
And so, when I’m standing there waiting for the bride to come, I want to have a vision not only for that moment. I want that vision to be of years to come, with the wisdom piling up. I’m not scared of gray hair any more. Actually, in some ways, if it meant I had more wisdom, I wish I had a white head.
So often, we as young people have visions and dreams that are so exciting they make us lose sleep and do all kinds of crazy things. It’s the nature of the beast. These early years in our life will define who were are for the rest of our days here on earth. Some of us blow the years. Others of us have vision but lose it when things don’t go our way. A few take advantage.
I want to have a vision with the cross at the center. With faithfulness to God and to my family at it’s heart. It’s easy to get stuck in the excited thrill of the moment. And it’s perfectly normal to enjoy and celebrate during times that call for celebration. But if we live for one moment in our lives, everything will crumble. Marriage is not about a single ceremony, it’s about a lasting covenant. The words “I do” really are just words if we are living for a moment. But if we are living for a lifetime, those words keep ringing in our heart’s and minds when the money is running out, when the car breaks down, when the kids are screaming, when the darkness creeps in, when the job is gone, when the gray hair grows, and when the skin begins to sag. Beauty fades and strength fails.
But a lifetime of service and sacrifice will stand secure when the flames of this world work to ravish the covenant of marriage.
So when I’m standing there ready to make that covenant, I want to think about more than just that moment. I want to think about that older couple at the restaurant. About Paul’s call for young men to look for wisdom from the older men. About Jesus and his ultimate act of selflessness and love. I want that to be me. I want to live a lifetime characterized by service and sacrifice to one special girl.
I can’t wait.
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