Many years ago while attending a friend’s wedding held in an historic church in an old Southern city, I was touched by the beauty and spirit of the service. However, I couldn’t have imagined how God would speak to my heart at the reception. The bride’s brother ran a restaurant business in a nineteenth century Greek revival house and arranged serving tables throughout the many rooms.
As I traversed the elegant rooms to taste the delicious food, I was delighted to encounter people I didn’t even know were there, many of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. Over and over I experience glad reunions. When I left that evening, my heart was so full of joy, I felt I’d had a little foretaste of heaven. I imagined heaven might be a little like that grand house and we'd spend the first thousand years or so strolling the glittering streets reuniting with people who’ve preceded us, or getting to know those we missed here on earth.
Last night, I again experienced that foretaste of heaven when we attended the nuptials of the daughter of family friends. I had such a sense of anticipation even before we opened the doors of the church.
Once inside, one of the first people we hugged had just traversed the broad circumference of this whirling planet to be there, dear Tammy from Asia.
We caught up a bit and then greeted and embraced other friends, long cherished, and seldom seen.
When we took our seats, I was surprised to find a woman I much admire, singer-songwriter Rita Springer was to sing. Can’t tell you how often I used her song “I Want the Joy” during prison ministry. Later after the wedding, I had the privilege of meeting her and sharing how much God used her music to touch those women’s hearts.
When at last the beautiful bride entered on the arm of her weeping father, the spirit of the Lord was so mightily with us, our hearts almost burst with worship to the one who thought of this sacrament called marriage, and helps us understand that in the larger context, we are the bride and Christ is our bridegroom.
At the reception, we continued to run into folks we’d known many years ago, or made the acquaintance of others with whom we’d like to have spent more time.
But, just as the evening really began, we had to leave, because as my husband said, “Sundays a comin’.” We had a long drive back and an early alarm this morning.
But one day, yes, one day, all of those who belong to Jesus shall have all the time in this world or any other. We’ll chat, sing, embrace, and love on each other in a place where there is no long drive or early alarm. We’ll dance the first dance and never stop. We’ll be endlessly together at that great wedding to come.
But while I’m here, I’m thankful for these grace filled glimpses of glory. These precious moments keep us looking forward and looking up.
Right now, I’m singing in my heart the recessional song used at the wedding, the song with which the newlyweds began their life together—a contemporary version of a nineteenth century gospel song:
"Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!"
When Jesus washed my sins away!"
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (I Corinthians 13:12 Message).
“Hallelujah! The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong! Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:6-7).