“We love Him because He first loved us.”—1 John 4:19.
|my daughter Leah with her niece Abigail|
My nephew Jeremy’s wedding celebration was held this weekend. He and his lovely bride were married in April in a small ceremony out of town–this was the party ‘back home’ for extended family and their hundreds (it seemed!) of friends.
My youngest brother is Jeremy’s father. He did not start out as Jeremy’s father; someone else did, but when Dave married, Jeremy was part of the package.
That package was tried, tossed around and trampled almost to bits over the last 20 years,
but by the grace of God and my brother’s faith and love, it has survived.
|Jeremy and his dad embrace after the toasts…..|
I am the oldest of 5; my brothers and sisters and I shared my stepfather’s name growing up, though he is not our biological father. But when he married my mother, we were part of the package.
That package was severely tested and tried and torn apart by divorce and death. Unfortunately my parents did not survive. I lost my mother at the age of 55 over 25 years ago; my stepfather passed away a few years later.
There is some some sadness in their not being at this celebration–to see their children and their children’s children rejoicing…..and their children’s children’s children–for yes, some of us are grandparents now.
But my brothers and sisters and I are still here and we actually love each other.
We are not only surviving, but thriving. Walking with God.
That is a miracle of the highest degree. We were not raised in a Christian home–with 5 children to deal with, you can be sure my parents only darkened the doors of a church on a few obligatory holidays.
I remember attending a Unitarian church, a Lutheran church (where my second brother and I were briefly enrolled in school), and an Assembly of God Sunday School where the teacher (I swear) looked just like a grown up Shirley Temple.
As I stood back from the spectacle late into the evening–it was out of doors on a lake where the bride’s parents lived–I was overcome with God’s amazing grace and wonder at His intervention in our lives.
My now grown up children, nephews and nieces, were passing around my newest grandson. They were having the time of their lives dancing. The other grands that were (very!) mobile were watched over by their newly protective Uncle Johnathan, my stepfather’s namesake.
There was a ribbon of joyous connection running through the night, a river of joy and grace that could not be contained or captured in words.
At one point in the evening, a bagpiper played the Marine Hymn while Jeremy and his Sergeant (who had given the orders which changed his life forever) stood at attention. The crowd was quiet and I stood between my brothers with tears in my eyes.
For this wedding might never have been; Jeremy was injured in the Iraq War from an IED that blew up his Humvee. He was platoon leader and pulled his buddies and an interpreter from the jeep, severely burning his hands. He was left with every inch of clothing burned from his body, and though he was saved, he lost friends who were closer than brothers to him.
When he went through rehab and came home, healing over a very long time, he walked down some very rough roads. One of them slowly but surely led to his lovely betrothed, ‘the best thing that ever happened to him,’ I heard someone say.
“The best thing that ever happened”–
like the pursuit of a Saviour who held so many of our family members’ lives in His hand,
waiting for us to turn to Him, although we had turned from Him. Who called our names, had His eyes on us from the beginning of time……..
I am still shaking my head in wonder of it all.