Wednesday, September 19, 2007

God blessed the broken road...

Every long lost dream
Led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart
They were like Northern Stars
Pointing me on my way
Into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That lead me straight to you....


(Rascal Flatts, "Bless The Broken Road")

They stood at an altar in a rather untypical country church in Holt, Missouri, north of Kansas City. She was beautiful in a champagne-cream colored pantsuit, and he was clearly a country-boy wearin' a handsome black suit out of deep, deep love. Her Methodist preacher friend and his Baptist pastor stood before them, their family and friends - but you didn't need to have the professional holy folk to know that God's spirit was on that place, and that couple.

Norma and I had started seminary together, way back at St. Paul School of Theology in September, 1997 - almost exactly ten years earlier. Church folk like Tex Sample, Gene Lowry, Warren Carter and Harold Washington were some of the salts-of-the-earth who accompanied us on our way as part-time students. Norma and I walked through the death of her mother, and later her father, and struggles galore. We both have struggled with our faith, our call, and our respective denominations' candidacy processes. And through it all, we have grown as close as friends can be.

There was different times when I think each of us thought that the other might be a candidate for the "Spouse 2.0" program (though it was a number of years before I could admit to myself, let alone tell her, exactly why that wouldn't work). But even that revelation only gave us more to laugh about. We are folks who love to laugh - and there sure was a lot of that this weekend...

Her dear friend and mother-of-the-heart, Gertrude, was there from Marshall MO, as was her daughter Becky from Phoenix, looking lovelier than ever, and her dear friend Rose from St.Paul, MN. As both Norma's parents had died, it was my honor and privilege to fly out from Ohio to walk Norma down the aisle, and to present her to her husband-to-be "on behalf of her family, her friends, and the family of faith."

(To be honest, it was tough to say where one group left off and the next one started...)

I don't know where the first reading came from, but it began with both truth and hope: "This is not my first marriage; but it is my last." One of their marriages had ended in divorce; the other, in death - but on that day, the focus was on new life, new hope, and a love that had grown out of friendship.

And after their vows were exchanged, a handsome young man and his wife sang Rascal Flatt's beautiful ballad, with the chorus that seemed so appropriate. (You can hear the original version over here.)

Earlier that day, as I was visiting with friends in south Overland Park, KS, it had started to pour down rain. Knowing the reception was to be in an outdoor tent, at the end of a long gravel road, my first thoughts were hardly spiritual ones (having a lot to do with raw sewage and unbridled copulation). But almost immediately on the heels of those unholy thoughts was this passage from Scripture: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33(b), NIV).

Once I heard that, I knew it was gonna be all right.

And it was.

From the rehearsal, to the preparation, to the ceremony and the reception, it didn't go exactly as it might have been planned, but it went absolutely beautifully. It did my heart good to see Norma finding peace, friendship and love after seeking it for so long. The whole thing was the answer to a whole bunch of prayers I have prayed for my dear friend.


Norma and Clayton. September 15, 2007. May every good and beautiful thing come your way, my friends. God has indeed blessed every mile of the broken road that has led you to each other.

4 comments:

Poor Mad Peter said...

Let te people say, Amen.

Scott said...

nice reflection... I love weddings!

Im A Foto Nut said...

Steve,

Make certain you listen to Pastor Joe's Sermon from Sunday the 23rd on Atonement's web page!

The whole while I sat there, I kept thinking, "Yeah, and Steve has been living this for many years now. If we all modled ourselves after him we would be doing just as Brother Joe asked.

Definately a don't miss for you dear brother.

Im A Foto Nut said...

Steve,

Just a reminder to listen the the sermon mentioned above if you have yet to do so.

Also, because I am at work, and more because I am just plain lazy, I am pasting a link here to one of my threads on Flickr in a Prayer Request Group. Start at the Bottom of my Post and then read up to take in the updates.

God has worked swiftly in my life over the last two weeks as far as a job is concerned, and there is much cause for Praise and Celebration.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/god-hears/discuss/72157602135524233/