love well & deeply & wholly

This past weekend my beautiful friend Kate married the love of her life, and I was asked to share something from my heart for their day. Here, along with a million congratulations, is my hope for them, as well as my wish for you.

There are some days, standing in line at the grocery store, where you have no idea what eternal turn that afternoon will take, no idea that it will be a day you’ll recount to your kids and grandkids.
Because sometimes life is a total surprise.

But today is not one of those days… we know today is weighted deeply with eternity.
Though there are a hundred knots of surprise that stitched together this moment, this being here- standing on a beautiful Tennessee farm, well, this will be a day that is guaranteed to find itself tucked into a thousand stories you will tell for the next fifty years.

This moment.
This moment.

This is what you pray for from the time you’re old enough to twirl around with an apron-turned-veil tied to your head, this is the vision you had when you were crying along to Celine Dion on the Titanic soundtrack or hurting when you felt hope walk out when a break-up broke you.

This moment wrapped in white and wishes-come-true, it’s why we go on first dates and why we suffer through most of them. Until the last one.

The ‘why’ of all of this, is more than just for the “I do’s” … the why of it, the why of the wedding is because of the marriage.
And the marriage is testament to the handiwork of an incredibly good God.
And that good God has one desire for the wedding, one desire for the marriage, one desire for Himself…

That we love well.
That we love with eternity in mind.

I remember after Kate’s first or second trip to Nashville, we were on the phone while she waited for a flight home, and she was so sad to go back to Boston. Attempting to keep her distracted out of that sadness I asked for a full recounting of your time together.
And inside of a lot of details and great memories made, she shared with me that during a tough conversation that had opened her heart to reveal past pain and disappointment- Matt, you hurt that she’d hurt.

And hundreds of miles away on a porch swing in Indiana, I knew it.
You loved her.

Love can look like a vase of ruffled roses or a stack of sloppily penned cards full of sweet sentiment.
But love also looks like hurting when the other hurts.
And rejoicing when the other rejoices.
And carrying something too heavy for one to carry on their own.
That’s loving with eternity in mind.
That’s loving for more than just the feeling of the moment.

We don’t need to be married to survive. We don’t need a ring on our finger to make life worth it.
But when God brings us into relationship, when He chooses to orchestrate a union, romantic or otherwise- it is because we learn more of Him, we become more like Him, and we learn to love like Him.

And so this spring day, promises will be made to each other, but promises will also be made to you both by our Author. Our God who picked up an omniscient pen and decided to write this love, and this life you will share.

He’s writing so that you will grow.
He’s writing so that you will flourish.
He’s writing so that you’ll see more of eternity through the eyes of your lover than you would’ve seen alone.

The guarantee in that promise is that hard is on the horizon.
Those hands you’re holding now, here on your wedding day, will be the same hands you hold when someone you love is in the hospital or when you’re crying with grief or when the envelope has news you don’t want to read stuffed inside.

And, those hands that you’re holding now, here on your wedding day, will be the same hands you hold when you take your sweet babies home from the hospital, when you’re crying with joy, and when the envelope of college admission for those grown babies shows up in the mailbox.

There are a hundred knots of surprise that got you to today, and there will be a million more stitched into this story.

He doesn’t want you guessing what’s around each corner, He only wants you holding tightly to each other and even tighter to Him.

He wants you to kiss slowly, and bring home cold Gatorade when the other of you has strep throat.
He wants you to help the other not get lost, but grow in their identity as a person He’s designed with purpose.
He wants you to speak bold prayers over and with the heart you’re promising to safekeep and He wants you to sit silently beside them when there’s no solution and the day gets dark.

So, as much thoughtful planning as there was for this gorgeous celebration, there was surprise after surprise that got us to the day where the eternal stepped down into this gathering of all your beloveds.
And that is exactly my, and our, wish for your life together-

That you will be surprised.
And that the eternal, that our God Himself, would step into this life you’re starting.
That you would always be surrounded by those you treasure and those that treasure you.
That there would be sweetness and goodness and gorgeous celebration to temper what will be hard.
That the beauty of Kate and the handsome of Matt, that the flutter you feel in today’s kiss would follow you through fifty years.
That you would be delighted in what our Lord has planned.
That you would know Him more intimately than you could’ve possibly imagined.
And that you would learn to love well. Love well and deeply. Love well and deeply and wholly.
And that when you tell the story of today, the overarching theme of every detail would be His love for you…
…and the delight He took in surprising you with this glimpse of eternity’s beauty.

Selah.

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