I get lost in his picture. It instantly transports me to the front porch of the 3-story Empire Victorian home where David grew up in Cheyney, PA. If I could step back in time, I imagine myself walking towards him, quietly taking my place at his side, slipping my arm inside his and catching his eye in a comfortable glance. I can almost feel myself resting my head on his shoulder, settling into his embrace, soaking in a ray of warm sunshine or the touch of a gentle breeze. David in his button-down Oxford and V-neck sweater, jeans and dock-siders… and even though his picture was taken in the fall, I imagine myself in my favorite white islet dress – the one I wore for senior dinner and graduation.
We were both seniors in high school, both living in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I attended a big public high school northwest of the city. He attended a small private Christian school on the southwest side. Our church picnic every June was on the grounds of that same Christian school, so I knew his campus well. One of my closest friends from church was a member of his graduating class of about 50. Through her introduction I met and dated one of David’s friends for two years, went to their senior dinner, and was present at his graduation! But… we never met. Not then. Not on any of those occasions.
While David went to college in Boston, I attended the University of Delaware for two years, very close to his home in southwest PA. I considered visiting his church in Wilmington, DE, from school many times… but never went. David’s sisters came to a Bible conference at my church in Bryn Mawr, PA, more than once… but David never came. There were so many times that we could have met, times that we might have considered to be perfectly orchestrated by God to bring us together. But we didn’t. Because God’s perfect timing was so different.
In the years before we met, the Lord was walking each of us through experiences that would touch us deeply, rewire our hearts, and draw us closer to Him first. He used those years to bring us to the place where we could truly value and treasure one another. In His divine plan, it was ten more years before He caused our paths to meet – at a Bible conference at David’s church. Ten years after first thinking of visiting the Brandywine Chapel, I finally stepped inside those doors!
David would say that he knew the first day we met that he wanted to marry me. Haunted by heartache, I was the harder one to convince! But he patiently waited three more years while the Lord continued to heal my heart and open my eyes to just how attractive a heart for God can be! By the time I realized that the Lord was bringing us together with a beautiful future in mind, David was graduating from law school and we were both ready to take an exciting step forward… together!
Without even realizing it, I selected another favorite white islet dress – my wedding gown! As I slipped my arm into his on our wedding day, I never remember feeling more at peace, more spoiled, loved or provided for. Our gracious God, in His perfect time, had orchestrated our beautiful day – clear, crisp autumn air with bright yellow maple leaves and blue sky, David in his handsome tux and me in my dress, feeling warm sunshine on our faces and the touch of a gentle breeze! We caught each other’s eye more than once in private conversation that didn’t need words. We were overjoyed to express our love for each other… and for the Lord Jesus who died to save us and lovingly guide us to that day.
from our wedding processional:
“O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted, more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean’s fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.
With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned
When throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.”
Imagining us on that front porch as seniors in high school seems so carefree – young, energetic, filled with hopes and dreams, so unencumbered with real life responsibilities. I picture smiles that are bright and free, an easy playfulness that is just fun and maybe a little daring. The crazy thing is this – David has this way of leading me to believe that he still sees me that way! Despite my always being too serious (about everything!) and the years not being so kind to my physical body, he sees me as fresh and beautiful as 18. He brings out that fun and playful side the way no one else can. His love for me, deep and constant, is one of the reasons I love this man. He only ever sees me in the best light. Even when real life crashes in and we both feel genuine stress, he can instantly become 18 again when he catches my eye, scoops me into his arms, and makes it all melt away.
When I take time to think about it, I believe it has something to do with the long, hard road that brought us together. We know what it is like to be alone, and worse – to be rejected, cast aside. Past disappointments and heartache have given us the perspective to treasure the gift of our marriage. We fiercely guard and defend it. And we are both SO grateful that we get to live life together!
So even now, 30 years after that picture was taken, and approaching 20 years of marriage, there is still nothing sweeter to me than to quietly take my place at David’s side, slip my arm into his, put my head on his shoulder and feel him pull me close. Together, we still hope and dream, and let our eyes dance as we look to the future. The Lord has done great things for us and we have every reason to look forward with excitement and gratitude… together!
from our wedding recessional:
Praise to the Lord, Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with His love He befriend thee.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; with loving kindness have I drawn you; I will build you up again. ~ Jeremiah 31:3-4
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy! ~ Psalm 126:3