“Can I have a do-over?” People usually ask that question because they’ve made a mistake of some sort, but sometimes God gives us do-overs because we did everything right!
There I stood in beautiful downtown Brenda AZ in the Rec Hall of the Black Rock RV Park. In front of me were two wonderful people. Rick, a preacher friend that I finally got to see in the flesh after 16 years of Internet tag and Carol, his soon to be wife. They were standing in front of me because I was about to marry them. Rick looked uncomfortable in his “monkey suit” as he called it, but even his crusty cowboy ways couldn’t hide his obvious joy. Carol looked radiant, which is a bit surprising since she had spent the better part of the week running around like a one-armed wallpaper hanger, taking care of all the necessary details to make the wedding happen.
A few minutes earlier, just as the ceremony was about to begin, Rick leaned over to me and said: “Now Grant, make sure there is some laughter in this wedding because the Christian Life is about joy and celebration.” I took that comment to be a first-class challenge, but I really didn’t have to work too hard at bringing any laughter because of Rick’s homemade processional CD.
Carol loves 50’s music, so the processional began with “Earth Angel,” which led into a recording of Rick introducing his bride as only Rick can. Next was the tympani to 20th Century Fox which lead to the bride’s marching orders: “Going to the Chapel”.
The only problem was that it was all recorded as one track so when the sound guy, half way through “Earth Angel,” accidentally started the song over again, there was nothing he could do but speed up the track. That made the remainder of “Earth Angel” sound like it was recorded by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Laughter naturally ensued.
The fact is, I don’t think we could have planned the beginning of the wedding any better. That faux pas perfectly set the tone for the rest of the ceremony. There were still some serious and solemn bits, but Rick was absolutely right, the Christian Life is a celebration.
As I neared the end of the ceremony, I had to weigh how I was going to finish things up. There I stood, a Canadian marrying an honest-to-goodness cowboy preacher, in a place that was as close to the Wild West as I will probably get. Somehow the phrase, “You may kiss your wife” just didn’t seem to cut it, so I breathed in a bit of that warm desert air and improvised the line, “Rick, go ahead and plant one on her.” It may not have been the most dignified conclusion to a wedding ever uttered. I doubt the soon to be wed Prince William and Kate Middleton will have anything similar in their ceremony on April 29th, but that’s OK. After all, Prince William isn’t a cowboy preacher! True to form, Pastor Rick took his cue and he planted several on her—YEEHAW!
Now here is the thing you don’t know about Rick and Carol. Both of them have been married before. Both of them lost their spouses to cancer. In Rick’s case, he spent the better part of twenty years being Helen’s caregiver before she went to be with the Lord.
Let me share with you an excerpt of what I said to the couple during the ceremony:
When Rick first called to ask me about the wedding, I have to say that I was surprised. I know how special his love and devotion was for Helen, but as he talked to me and said, “Grant, you know, no one deserves to be blessed with two angels, but that is exactly what God has given me.” I couldn’t help but smile.
To be honest with you, Carol, the first thing that occurred to me when Rick shared a bit about your life and how you met, and how Helen was the one who first invited you to church, I couldn’t help but think that God was blessing you both with this new life together because you have already shown that you understand what the words, “For better, for worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part” mean.
Here is what I want you to think about as I bring this blog to an end: The Rick that leaned over to me to tell me that the Christian Life is about joy and celebration is the same Rick that took care of his ailing wife for over twenty years. He is the same Rick that has known all about loss and sacrifice and grief, as has Carol. But, I think it is for this very reason that Rick also knows great joy. You see, there is no greater joy than finding out that our God goes with us wherever we go—even into the hardest, darkest places. And sometimes, when God decides it is fitting to do so, we end up walking out of the darkness into one of His greatest surprises—new life, new love, new hope, new blessing, new adventures in service to Him. It is enough to make a cowboy cry, eh Rick?
May God bless you two with all the riches of His grace as you love each other in Him. Amen!