Looking Back, Ahead

marriage1Tomorrow is Christmas, a wonderful holiday.  I’ve loved celebrating Christmas for years.  I love the music.  I love the time with my family.  I love Christmas morning when everyone opens their gifts, and my dog tears apart the wrapping paper into little pieces.  I love the Christmas Eve church service when we light candles and Reverend Tim speaks of love and peace.  I love the breakfast my mother makes every Christmas morning, a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole.  I love the decorations, the lights and the holly and the stockings and the ornaments on our tree.  But even so, today on Christmas Eve, I can’t help but look back and ahead to other times of celebration.

About 8 months ago, I proposed to my girlfriend, Vicky.  There were decorations then too; our friend Allie made a wonderful banner for us with the verse “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:6)  We (being our friends and me) also covered the walls of my dingy apartment with photos of Vicky and myself, looking back to good times together.  There was food too; my roommates, Kevin and Zach, and our friend Allie (the same great friend who made the banner) were so helpful and made tasty snacks for the engagement party.  There was music as well, and gifts, from me to my fiancée in the form of my grandmother’s ring.  And there was time with my family- that is, my Christian family, all of my best friends (some of whom flew/drove in to Norman that very day to spend the weekend celebrating with us), my brothers and sisters, together in one place.

marriage2That weekend was the best weekend of my life* not because of anything I did, but because of everything else.  Sure, I did some planning, but not all of it even worked out the way I planned it.  The lanterns that were supposed to float totally failed.  The timing all worked out with my friends putting my laptop at the reflection pool so I was able to sing to Vicky, but not without Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” playing over a loudspeaker a few hundred feet away at a free event on campus.  But you know what?  The look on her face of total surprise and pure joy was still real.  The tears that welled up in her eyes were unforgettable, and her laughter as my friends popped out from hiding is forever in my memory.  And not only was that moment special- that moment when she said yes before I even asked, that moment when we laughed and then I asked her and she said yes again, that moment we shared alone and said things no one else will ever know- but every moment after, shared with all of our friends who sacrificed their time and comfort to make the weekend special for us, those moments were equally special.

And now, I can look ahead to 6 months from yesterday when we’ll finally get married.  It feels like it will be the end of a waiting period, of us marking time, but I know it’s only the beginning.  Vicky has been planning most of the wedding; I won’t pretend to have done very much.  She’s a hard worker, a good planner, and she pays great attention to detail.  It will be a great wedding.  Once again, we’ll have friends surrounding us, sacrificing their time to celebrate with us.  What a blessing.  Our families will be there this time; if there’s one thing I could have changed about our engagement, it would have been to have Vicky’s family and my family there, but thank God they’ll be there for our wedding.  There will once again be decorations and food and music and gifts, and much like our engagement and much like Christmas, we’ll probably be swept up in the whirlwind of it all.

marriage3It would be easy to forget the reason we do all of this.  Christ is the reason that Christmas is special, and He’s the reason I proposed, and He’s the reason we’re getting married.  I’m going to enjoy Christmas Eve tonight and Christmas tomorrow because, long ago, God became man so that He could die for our sins and give us eternal life in His glory.  I couldn’t fully enjoy Christmas without that.  Christ is the reason we get married, so that we can live out in our marriage the selfless love that Christ has for His body, the church.  I won’t pretend to understand marriage; I’m sure even years of marriage don’t provide the wisdom necessary to fully comprehend the mysteries of marriage.  But I know what it points to: Christ’s love for us, Christ’s unity with us, Christ’s sanctification of us.  I can’t wait to find out what it looks like to live that out, as difficult as I expect it to be.  I know the Lord has untold blessings in store for us.  I want those to be at the forefront of what Vicky and I do in marriage.  I want to love her for the right reasons.  Today, tomorrow, 6 months from now, I want to celebrate that.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

*I mean, how many weekends in your life can you really remember?  I’ll never forget this one.

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