This weekend Bree and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. On one hand, that seems like such a short amount of time, and yet on the other hand, in a day and age where divorce is just as common as holy matrimony, 10 years of commitment to one another feels like quite an accomplishment.
Friday morning, we sat with kids in our laps and watched the video of our wedding together. And as we sat there and watched, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the gift of modern technology and the ability to physically show our children the moment our family began. Even now, ten years later as we watched the video, I still got chills and teared up when I watched the doors open in the back of the room and saw my beautiful bride walk in.
She didn’t walk in to the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” or “Canon In D”. In fact, where in many weddings the music is the biggest and strongest when the bride walks in so as to draw attention to her, Bree walked in to the soft playing of the old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” on the piano. It was subtle and beautiful, and it felt like everything slowed down and almost stood still for a moment. And in that moment, both then and now as I watched her walk in, my eyes were fixed on my bride, but my heart was singing praises to the Fount of Every Blessing. I don’t know of any other song that could better express in words what was happening in that moment.
As we sat there and watched with our kids, Bree and I were reminded of God’s grace in our lives over the past ten years. And as the camera panned around to reveal the faces of those that were there that day to celebrate with us, we were reminded of how much can happen in 10 years. I was caught off guard and brought to tears once again as I watched my grandma and grandpa being ushered to their seats. My grandpa passed away in 2008 when Josie was just 5 months old. My grandma died two years later, less than a week before Charlie was born. Neither of them got to meet the great-grandson who would carry on the Johnson family name. Our hearts broke as Bree and I saw three different musicians in our wedding, each one unaware in that moment of the tragedy that was awaiting them in the coming years – a mother lost to suicide, a sister murdered, and a daughter who died at birth. We saw a man sitting in the crowd, healthy and happy, unsuspecting that a few years later he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life after falling off of a roof. What an eye-opening reminder of the things we can so easily take for granted. It seems that 10 years is long enough to experience a lifetime of heartache and pain.
As we finished the video and once again found ourselves in the present moment, seasoned in the joy and pain that life has sprinkled over us and those nearest to us in the past ten years, we couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the unflinching faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. Those people from our wedding who experienced tragedy firsthand continue to walk closer with the Lord, because He is faithful. We have experienced ups and downs in our marriage over the past 10 years, and Ebenezers have been raised as monuments of God’s faithfulness and help. Because of His faithfulness, everything we’ve gone through together in our marriage has been a blessing that has presented an opportunity for us to deepen our commitment to one another and to God.
I’ve had a lot to be thankful for in the last decade, but no matter how much I have been blessed in my marriage, there is one blessing that will never be surpassed. I have been rescued by the precious blood of Christ! My heart is prone to wander from His grace, and yet His streams of mercy never cease, because He is faithful! Oh, that my heart would be forever tuned to sing His praise!
I don’t know what is yet to come for us, but some day (Lord willing) 50 or even 60 years from now, I hope to be able to sit next to my beautiful bride and look back on all of the things life has handed to us over so many years and speak of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the joy and the pain. Our life together began on May 24, 2003 with a bride walking toward a groom to the rhythm of a gentle yet powerful hymn of prayer and praise. And though life’s tempo may change as the years go by, when that last day comes and death concludes the covenant we made with each other on our wedding day, may we be found together the way it all started, the bride walking toward the Bridegroom to the tune of God’s unending grace.
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothèd then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.