Monday, November 22, 2004

Wedding of a Sometime Prodigal Son

My 26 year old son, Ryan, got married Saturday. My son who has to feel the pain before he changes course; my son who has often not taken the straight and narrow path; my son with the huge, warm heart. My son who has been forgiven much, and who forgives much. My son who has taught me more than I ever needed to learn. My fun-loving, literate, creative, deeply caring son. My sometime Prodigal Son.

The wedding was formal, yet completely out of control. The soloist never showed, yet the traditional wedding march was played on one of the most powerful pipe organs in the US. The florist ran out of red roses. We had to step over beflowered grosgain ribbons to reach the pews. The bride was late because she forgot to arrange for a ride to the church. The reception was 56 miles from the church.

It was vintage Ryan. Keystone Cops on a sacred occasion. Surprises at every turn, yet the sweetest wedding in memory.

He surprised his bilingual, Peruvian bride at the altar by taking his vows in Spanish. The pastor, touched by Ryan's loving gesture, remarked during the ceremony, "That's true love...taking vows in another language." to which my quick-witted son quipped, "That's OK. She's going to say it in English." And she did.

At the last minute before leaving home, I tucked a Bible into my purse. Minutes before the ceremony, the pastor asked "Who's doing the scripture reading." Huh? What scripture reading? Thusly, God blessed me with the great privilege of reading I Corinthians 13 at my son's wedding.

Fifteen minutes before she walked down the aisle, the bride sobbed in my arms from wedding plan burnout and sheer nerves. And then she gave me one of the great gifts of my life.

I have prayed for years and years for Ryan to accept Jesus Christ as his savior. As his mother, I absolutely know it's in his heart, but he avoids church. He won't take his elementary school Bible from me. I hold it, waiting for the day when he'll take it back. (I offer it back to him every Christmas.) He resists God. He won't discuss it with me.

I comforted Giovanna, a staunch, committed Christian. Just'll finally be married to Ryan. Wedding details don't matter. God is blessing you...smiling down on you. And Ryan is getting married in a church. He is a step closer to accepting Jesus Christ.

"He knows it, you know," she gulped between sobs. "He believes."

"Knows what? Huh?"

"The Bible."

I looked at her quizzically.

"We had a fight last year. It was awful...I was crying," she sobbed. I dabbed her tears.

"He said those words.....the ones you're going to say in the wedding. I Corinthians13. And he recited the 23rd Psalm, too. He said them from memory."

Joy leaped in my breast. Real joy. It is in his heart. Hidden in his heart. He relies on the Word.

A few minutes later, I watched my son take his marriage vows before God. He even kneeled and prayed, and he took communion.

As I read I Corinthians 13 to Ryan and Giovanna during their wedding, I paused twice. Tears of profound joy blurred my eyes and choked my throat.......just as they are now as I write these words.

God is so good.

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