I am standing in the grass in the beautifully groomed yard, with my daughter next to me wearing the dress of her dreams and tugging my arm eagerly. She is twenty, and she is five. She is a woman, and she is a girl.Either way she is beautiful and she cannot wait to step out and turn the corner.
At the end of this short walk is the man of her dreams. They have not seen each other all day, and they have waited almost two years to taste the warm satisfaction of a first kiss. Did I mention she is tugging at my arm eagerly?
Twenty four hours earlier we had stood in this spot to rehearse the order and structure of this short walk and this huge step. The atmosphere was joyful and fun. The bride and groom-to-be couldn’t keep their eyes off each other. And I couldn’t help but notice.
I began to consider the miles of distance covered by this short walk down the aisle. And then it hit me.
I have played almost every role possible in a wedding. I have been a groom, and I have been a musician. I have been a groomsmen, a best man, a casual attender and I have been the preacher. I have pronounced a few “man and wife” in my recent years.
In all these roles I have been increasingly taken with the beautiful picture God has given us in the wedding ceremony and all it’s ritual. And especially recently I have enjoyed the breathless anticipation and final arrival of the Bride. Everyone stands, and the picture of Jesus united with His bride is played out in the hearts of another man and wife.
But these twenty-four hours I was playing a brand new role. At the rehearsal I stood by the side of the much-anticipated, well prepared, radiant bride. I hugged her a lot. I just felt like it. I held her back when it wasn’t time, and I walked when it was. As we practiced walking the aisle together I found myself whispering in her ears. I whispered thoughts about her life, and thoughts about tomorrows ceremony. I told her how proud I was and how beautiful she looked. I told her some things to expect and how to think about these things. I liked it. I could guide her one more time.
The next night arrived and we stood in the same spot. Her dress was beautiful and her mind was on her groom. I hugged her a lot. I just felt like it. She talked eagerly of the next few moments. This was a moment I had always seen from the other side. The bride was about to be revealed. And I was bringing her from here to him.
I realized at that moment, that, although my title was father, I was playing a role I had not seen in this oft-repeated ceremony. In the same way that the anticipation of the bride and groom, and eventual union represented Jesus and His bride, it was my job to walk by her side and guide her until they were together at last. It was my job to whisper in her ear and help her to navigate the path from out-of-sight to in-his-arms. It was my job to hug her a lot.
Jesus said to His disciples, “I am going away and I will prepare for you a place” this statement was a part of the marriage ritual of a young Jewish boy. Chapters later Jesus said this. “I am going to send you another comforter”. In essence He was describing the coming of the Holy Spirit, the on-earth presence of God, walking along side of us and whispering in our ears. He was telling us that someone would walk us from here to there. He sent someone to walk us down the aisle until we arrive at the side of the Bridegroom. I think He feels like hugging us more than we realize. I did.