Photo by Jennifer Buehrer.
I had the privilege of officiating at my son Michael’s wedding last week. Here is what I said.
Karina, we knew you before you knew Michael, and we loved you even then. You would have been remarkable, even if you did not like grits or laugh at my jokes. From the start we knew you as a gracious, diligent woman, a credit to godly parents who taught you to work hard and obey God.
And Michael, you came into our life speaking in full sentences at 18 months, articulate and sensitive beyond your years—Michael Joel Metts, the prophet of the day of the Lord, we called you.
So first of all, I’d like to say how honored I am that you asked me to perform this ceremony. In fact, you have both honored your parents in every way, so that you arrive at this moment with our full blessing and to our great joy.
Together you now embark on a grand adventure, one through which such honor will mean more and more, as you honor each other in ways you have yet to understand and for reasons you can not yet comprehend.
You will learn about each other’s strengths, and you will accept each other’s weakness. Each day you will be conformed more and more to the image of God’s own Son. You will not be conformed at the same rate and in the same ways, however, so you must be patient with each other and gracious to each other.
But you cannot expect to get through the hard times by trying harder. You cannot overcome the challenges merely through the grace you give each other and receive from each other, despite your many gifts. Michael you can see things see things the way they are and you can see them as they should be. And Karina, you are generous and good, a delight to behold.
But of the many gifts you have received, including churches to nurture you and families to love you, this marriage will be the greatest of all, save that of Christ himself.
For marriage, like every blessing, is a great gift. Like every good and perfect gift, it comes down from the Father of lights in whom is no variableness or shadow of turning. Your marriage can no more succeed through your effort than you can save yourself or change yourself outside of the free and abundant grace of God.
That’s because in every aspect of your lives together, God is glorified, both in your strengths and in your weaknesses. You must find your contentment in Him, your purpose in him, your strength in him and your joy in him. To try and find these in each other is idolatry.
Marriage is after all just a picture of greater truths. A mystery we are told. God’s faithfulness to His people, Christ’s sacrifice for his church—these are the things we understand and appreciate as we learn to love and serve each other in marriage.
Thus every single success brings God glory. The strength, the courage, the wisdom we exercise in marriage comes from Him, just as does the faith to believe Him and the will to obey Him. And when we fail, we learn the things we need to learn- humility, patience and grace. This too is his gift and this too his glory.
You have been taught to rest in the sovereignty of God and to glory in the grace of God. But these are truths you will forget a dozen times before the week is up. And when you forget, the solution is not to try harder, but to seek mercy and ask for forgiveness.
You will learn to do this with each other as you learn to do it with God. Or you will learn to do it with God as your learn to do it with each other. The order doesn’t matter, you will learn to do it one way or the other. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
This is how we are sanctified through marriage, just as we are sanctified in Christ. We get over ourselves, we surrender our pride, we lay down our life, we rest in his grace. And when we do all these things, we finally understand that we did none of them. That Christ did them in us.
In this then our praise is perfected, our joy is complete, our worship is accepted and our God is glorified.
Michael, this woman is God’s gift to you. You must lay down your life for her, as Christ loved the church. Every sacrifice is an act of worship. As you learn to love her, God is glorified in you and before all.
Karina, this man is God’s gift to you. You must honor him, as Sarah did Abraham, whose daughter you are. Every obedience is an act of worship. As you learn to respect him, God is glorified in you and before all.
Now blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,…. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1