For those of you that asked, here is my speech from Elizabeth and Brian's wedding. I'm amazed and humbled at the reactions I have received.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus’ disciple John is trying to describe his vision of Heaven. He is the only man I know of to see Heaven and come back to tell about it. He describes it the best way he knows how, which amounts to a lot of really bizarre metaphors and illustrations. But the one that fills me with the most hope and the most joy is this:
John, trying to cram all of the perfection, beauty and unity he saw up there into our whisperingly fragile language, describes Heaven as a wedding feast.
He describes the meeting of God and His children as what we just saw, what we stood and rejoiced in, what we marvel over time and time again : a bride, making her gorgeous and thrilling walk toward her first love.
There’s not much advice I can give you two. Most of what I know about unconditional love, I learned from you. But there’s something I can tell you about, something I have learned about during this, my first year of marriage. I’m not too proud of it, because I didn’t learn it like a scholar gains knowledge through hard work or as an old man gathers wisdom over time- but more like a drowning person learns to swim: out of savage necessity.
And that is courage.
I’ve learned that there is a dark force in this world that doesn’t want us to live beautiful stories. It doesn’t want us to walk toward Heaven, toward God and toward each other with the love and joy that we celebrate today. "It doesn’t want us to face our issues, to face our fear and bring something lovely into the world."* I think you will learn that marriage is all at once unexpectedly difficult and unexpectedly beautiful because of this force.
So if there’s one thing I know from 385 days of marriage it is this: you have to be really brave.
Because in a world that resists beautiful stories, you constantly have to choose between love and fear. You cannot have a little bit of each. But here’s the wonderful truth, the lovely secret that I beg you to cling to when the promises you make today get hard to keep:
You are fighting for the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven.
When all hell breaks loose against you, that’s when you know you’re in the middle of something eternally right. Because if there’s a dark force resisting beautiful stories, then imagine how ferociously it will resist this, our personal illustration of Heaven on earth.
So, my beautiful friends, wake up every morning and be brave. Root yourselves in His perfect love that is here, around us and within us, driving out our fears and calling us home.
*this is a quote from Don Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years". In a dream world where he actually reads my blog, I wouldn't want him getting pissed...