(a longer post)
My oldest daughter was married a couple of weekends ago at a beautiful outdoor venue. God allowed it to be an absolutely perfect day on many different levels. However, when we started planning this celebration, there were three major concerns. The first was the potential for conflict between myself and my daughter. The second was the possibility for bad weather. Last but by no means least, was the fact that it was Easter weekend. These three factors initially caused me great stress but God turned them into invitations to intimacy with Him.
Conflict. If I had to use one word to describe my past relationship with my eldest daughter, it would be conflict. We clashed over almost everything and thru the years there had been deep hurt and wounds inflicted by both of us. While I knew that we loved each other, we just could not seem to give or receive any affection because of all the pain. We both came out of her teen years shell-shocked and on the verge of estrangement. This situation seemed to climax with her moving out shortly after her HS graduation to live with her boyfriend’s family in another state. I would be dishonest if I said that I was saddened over her departure. My husband and I were greatly relieved that a major source of conflict had moved out. While I hated the manner in which she left, deep down I knew we both needed the separation. If we were ever going to have a chance for healing, we needed to be apart. I was very thankful that her boyfriend’s family had opened not only their home to our daughter, but also their hearts. They genuinely loved her and saw the beautiful person she is. I am forever grateful to them for giving her a safe and loving place to be. Little by little, God began to give me a hope that He could restore our broken relationship. He even provided for us to take a trip last summer together with her boyfriend (who shortly thereafter became her fiance) and one of her older brothers that has set us on a journey of healing. (that trip is a story in itself that perhaps I will tell someday)
All that being said, when my daughter asked me to bring her wedding dream to fruition, I had MAJOR reservations. Even tho we were in a much better place, I did not want for us to be in a position for potential conflict. I knew that I could do the job as I had been in event planning and catering for years, but this was different. This was my daughter’s wedding and there was every possibility for turmoil. God, however, would reveal that there was also every possibility for joy and beauty. After all, He is the living God that gives beauty for ashes. My daughter had a very detailed outline of what she wanted and with a deep sense of humility and honor, I started praying and planning. I prayed that God would take my efforts and fashion something beautiful for His glory and a gift for my daughter. I sent her pictures of everything I was making and creating for her and her fiance to approve of. Without exception, she loved everything!! I was truly overwhelmed and God began to give me incredible joy in the process. I would have NEVER thought it possible. I was given a free hand to be creative and artistic and present my efforts as a gift of love to her and her fiance. The true joy was that she was received everything in the spirit and love in which they had been created. There were no conflicts, no clashes, no arguments. We respectfully and lovingly traded ideas and plans and God honored my prayer. He made it beautiful.
The second concern was the weather factor. A South Carolina Spring can have you wearing flip-flops one day and a parka the next. This spring mostly had us under umbrellas and wondering when the monsoon would end. I enlisted anyone and everyone to pray for good weather but the closer we got to the wedding weekend, the worse the forecast became. I became bold in my prayers and specifically asked for sunshine and 70 degrees for our celebration. However, rain, rain, and more rain and unseasonably cold weather preceded the weeks before the big day. Our only ‘Plan B’ was to rent a large tent which really wasn’t in the budget. Being two weeks out, I cried out again to the Lord.
“Lord, you are still the same all-powerful God who spoke a word and calmed a raging storm. You know our needs and our budget. Help me to trust you now. Help me to rest in your faithfulness to provide.”
I went to bed one night with God convicting me how narrow I had made my focus. I had become fixated on the weather and was trusting in it to determine the “success” of the wedding day. I had forgotten what this marriage was truly all about. He also impressed upon me to turn my requests into praises. I began to thank Him for all that he had done during so far during this journey. I thanked Him for the gift of marriage and that intimate relationship was His idea and intent. I thanked Him that marriage ultimately is a picture of His intimate love toward His children and the covenant He made with us to be our God and us to be His people. I thanked him for my son-in-law. In the past year, I had grown not only to know this young man better but to truly cherish him. He is everything a mother could hope for in a husband for our daughter and I was so thrilled for them both. I thanked Him for my own marriage and the picture of redemption it represented. I repented that I had made an idol out of the weather and determined from that moment, that we would and could have full joy no matter the forecast.
The next morning, a friend of mine from California called to say she had a specific word from the Lord for me,
“Angie, God wants you to know that He has seen your efforts and He is going to give you a beautiful day!”
I could not believe it! God was speaking directly to me thru my dear friend and blessing my soul with himself! In addition to this incredible intimacy, was He going to clear the clouds? I FULLY believed and trusted that He would. Later that same day, my daughter texted me with a verse that had popped on her phone,
“At the right, I the Lord will make it happen!” Is. 60:22b (The Message)
We both could not believe it! God had spoken directly to us again! A little later on, she shared an updated weather forecast with me. In the midst of 10 chilly and rain filled days, God had cleared the day of her wedding and it was going to be 70 degrees and sunny!
That brings us to the fact that their wedding celebration was going to be on Easter weekend. We knew that would affect attendance and tried to focus on the fact that it would be a joyous celebration no matter what. During the ceremony itself, God impressed upon me that my daughter being married at Easter was NO coincidence. Easter represents redemption and the possibility of reconciliation. Redemption is the taking of something broken and of no value and restoring it to its original worth. On that first Easter, God took broken humanity and our sin to the cross. His own son bore the penalty of death that sin deserves. He made it possible for us to be restored to our original worth and to be reconciled to Him. On this Easter, He reminded me of the restoration that had taken place in my relationship with my daughter. God had made reconciliation possible against all odds. God had truly taken something that was broken and made it beautiful.
God is the faithful one. He is the healer. He is the redeemer and at the right time, He made it happen!