A few weeks ago, I witnessed a moment I never should have seen.
But I am really glad I got to see it.
My most beautiful friend got married and I had the honor of standing by her side. The stage was set; bridal party in que; and the bride was patiently waiting for her father in her bridal suite. As the mothers of the bride and groom began to walk down the aisle, I noticed one very proud father without the very beautiful bride.
I panicked and found the wedding coordinator.
“SHOW HIM TO THE BRIDAL SUITE STRAIGHT AWAY.”
We ran clumsily toward the suite. I opened the door and stepped away. This was the first time her father had seen her standing alone in all of her bridal splendor.
And then, I heard the most sincere words ever spoken.
“Oh, honey. You are so beautiful.” Tears welled in his eyes and hers (and if we’re being honest, mine as well.) They hugged and I tried and failed not to be a part of the most beautiful moment between a father and a daughter. All three of us hustled back into line–just in time to walk down the aisle.
In “Let the Journey Begin,” Max Lucado encapsulates this moment like this,
“One thing human love has going for it is that you can see it–in the twinkling of your father’s eye, in the smile of a spouse, in the joy of your children’s voices.”
My friend’s marriage journey is just beginning; but not before her journey as her daddy’s little girl came to an end.
Some endings are beautiful and so obviously promising toward a better future. Some endings are bitter and end in a divided and heart-broken nation.
In fact, my beautiful friend’s wedding was a well-timed celebration in the midst of sorrow as I, along with the rest of our nation, grieved the loss of ten of the most beautiful souls to have ever claimed the name of Jesus. I can’t think about Cynthia, Susie, Ethel, Myra, Tywanza, Reverend Singleton, Reverend Simmons, Reverend Pickeney, and Reverend Middleton-Doctor without crying. And I won’t. And I shouldn’t. There seems to be nothing redeeming about losing my brothers and sisters at the hands of such a racist, vindictive, and horrible human being.
There is nothing except this to be thankful for:
If the grace and forgiveness of the survivors doesn’t paint the most beautiful picture of the character of our savior, nothing will.
I forgive you.
We enjoyed you.
May God have mercy on you.
As Lucado writes in You’ll Get Through This,
“In God’s hands intended evil becomes eventual good.”
The shooter intended to destroy the family of God, and more specifically, the African Americans within the community of God. But the shooter didn’t realize that God can take evil and re-weave it “into something good.”
In the most beautiful and sacred of moments, like the viewing of a beautiful bride for the first time, we want to forget the ugliness of life.
And yet, we must be careful not to forget that in all moments, God is there. He is alpha and omega.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17
Whatever your season of love, whether a peak or a valley, if you’re looking for a solid devotional for a beautiful beginning or words of wisdom through the darkest of times, check out these from Max Lucado.
Let the Journey Begin
By Max Lucado
Review: Great for the start of any faith journey; parenting, marriage, or even a new career. Great, quick “best of” devotionals that are accessible for any person of faith.
You’ll Get Through This
By Max Lucado
Review: If you’re in a real valley and struggling to find Christ at the bottom, this book tells the story of Joseph, one of the many heroes of the old testament who experienced trial after trial and yet God used his perpetual pain for his eternal glory. Along with this old testament reference are modern, relatable (heart-wrenching as they are) stories that prove the goodness of God despite the acuity of their pain. A must-read for anyone experiencing a trial they believe they’ll never escape. The truth remains the same, you’ll get through this and God is with you.