Tending the Heart on Slow Mornings and Wedding Days
It was wedding day—the one we thought about and worried over for months.
After coffee, and later scrambled eggs and toast with strawberry jam, we unloaded the paraphernalia from the rehearsal party we had been responsible for the night before. As parents of the groom, we had the privilege of sitting long and watching the sun make it’s way across a cloudless sky. Occasional texts came through from Luke to send this or that up to the wedding venue, for help in confirmations on flights; and there were best wishes from friends. The beautiful day and the slow morning took us around back to the garden.
I hadn’t been down there yet this spring though I'd been eating the fresh greens Jeff had harvested throughout the week. The dirt is better this year he told me. The peat and soil he’d mixed last year had settled. He took the hoe to various weeds popping up around the tomatoes---Cherokee purples, a pink heirloom variety, and my favorite, yellow cherry tomatoes. He planted onions in two different spots and asked again rhetorically how one is supposed to know when onions are ready.
He’s proud of his garden and I’m proud for him. I describe it as peaceful. We all need a place to find some peace in this spinning world.
I was wandering around the yard in my gown-tail and robe, barefooted. I told Jeff as we made our way back up to the house across pine straw and pine cones and weeds of various kinds that grow out under the big evergreens, I would have never dreamed I would have been so tender-footed. Tender feet are only a problem if you are walking around the backyard in your gown-tail on your son’s wedding day. Another thing that I’d be dealing with later would be a tender heart. That was okay too because I wanted it that way.
The Bible warns about hardheartedness, the antithesis to a tender heart.
It’s a fairly simple process to keep your feet tender—wear shoes! But what about our hearts? What are we to do to keep our hearts tender? What causes a hard heart and what is the way to avoid having one?
The Bible teaches about the importance of today. In the book of Hebrews, the writer exhorts the readers to not put off obedience in following the direction of the Lord so that their hearts will not be hardened. When we push aside listening to God’s direction in our lives and cast aside our intention to obey and follow him into the future, we risk becoming hardhearted. When we are unwilling to be vulnerable—when we hesitate, our hearts begin to harden. We can choose instead to slowly pick our way through this world one step at a time, knowing some steps will cause us to suffer. The choice will require vision and trust, faith.
We all know that our sincere intentions to follow God’s plan fade to the background of our lives when we don’t act immediately at His prompting. Over time, our pushing aside and putting off until another day forms a thick callus on our hearts. We lose our tenderness. We also lose our truest connection to ourselves, the part God desires to transform, the part of ourselves that matters most—our hearts.
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b ESV)
On Saturday night on a ridge overlooking fields and farmland, just as Luke and Alicia read from folded papers their written vows to one another, the honking notes of a pair of geese heralded that a sacred moment was taking place. The geese flew with their wings outspread straight into the breeze toward the still water of a pond. Canadians mate for life. The beauty of that moment was not lost on those who witnessed it, especially those with tender hearts.
It is a real temptation to become jaded and hardened by the state of marriage in our culture. We’ve all experienced the pain of the brokenness that can come when the sacred covenant is broken. What if we sat as witnesses to a marriage and saw it as an opportunity for hope? When we are able to understand the significance of the fact that Jesus has betrothed Himself to us not just for a lifetime but forever, we can love and obey him. We can give our hearts to Him completely as we receive his unconditional love for us. Jesus is absolutely committed to us as a groom to his bride. Because of his love, we can trust his way as the way to the good life.
If our hearts are never pricked by beauty or pain, we need to ask God to search them, no doubt. (Psalm 139) In seeking Him, we find He wants to give us the kind of heart that is ready to receive his promises.
Luke and Alicia did not walk an easy path to stand before each other during that beautiful golden hour. Many who witnessed those tenderfeet at the altar have lived through many seasons. We all know they’ll face challenges in the days ahead. Maybe their greatest challenge will be to keep a tender heart? Is it not the challenge we all face?
Colossians 3:12-15 are verses I’ve meditated on in the recent past. I thought of them again from my place on the front row, the sun setting on another season of life.
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones,
holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
bearing with one another and, if one has
a complaint against another, forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
And thankful, we are.Thanks to the family for pics to share!
Video of wedding night send-off :)