Last week I discovered some unexpected momentum for our prayer/fasting time. While wondering how I might keep a prayerful focus amid our intensive Living Waters Training week, which ended just in time for my youngest son Sam’s wedding, a team member (thanks Tom Wright!) prophesied: ‘Everything about this training and wedding weekend will remind you of God’s faithfulness to Sam.’
In reflection, prophesy fulfilled. God gave all for my son Sam and gained him. In the process, Annette and I gained Chelsea, an extraordinary daughter-in-law.
While teaching at the onset of training on ‘The Fighting Father’, I recalled how God’s Spirit quickened Annette and I to fight for Sam’s dignity. He strayed far from the Father’s house; I remembered that afternoon on a freezing January morning when I realized how lost Sam was. Somehow God’s grief over the darkness in his life overtook me. I pulled into a nearby Catholic parish, knelt at a pew and prayed out in deep, tearful groans for an hour or so. Annette and I kept praying similarly for Sam throughout the winter.
The following year, Sam came into the light through some tough love on our part and an amazing group of young adults he connected with early on in his repentance. Like any addictive soul, Sam had setbacks en route to holiness and needed to learn the value of living in the light, no matter how painful it is to confess sins to one’s faith community. As I taught on confession at the training, I recalled Sam’s halting willingness to come clean and so break the chains of habitual sin.
Jesse, one of Sam’s amazing Christian friends, shared at the rehearsal dinner of a season when Sam refused to connect with him. Jesse had a dream in which he was trying to speak to Sam but Sam could not hear him, as if he were deaf. Jesse kept trying to connect with Sam unsuccessfully until out-of-the-blue Sam called Jesse, confessed his sins, and enlisted his help in overcoming the sin through their fellowship. Through the prayers of the saints, God quickened Sam to enlist the help of a community. It takes a village to overcome life-defining habits.
Sam kept growing in love with Jesus and soon met his beautiful wife-to-be, Chelsea. Now strengthened in fellowship by a host of great guys, Sam was ready to love a real, dimensional woman. He needed to learn to love a woman in the whole of her being, not just because she’s ‘hot’ but because she is worthy of love. Period. As I taught on true masculinity at the training, I recalled how Sam’s training in faithful fellowship had resulted in his treating Chelsea with dignity. That he does: he helps secure her in love, and she in turn blesses him with honor.
Sam’s strength and Chelsea’s beauty were on vivid display the whole wedding weekend. Radiant in love, they also displayed an ease and familiarity with each other that bodes well for the long haul. They are Christ followers who have committed themselves with eyes wide open to say ‘yes’ to each other daily, in feast and famine.
Everyone who shared in their wedding was somehow brought closer to Jesus. Maybe St. Paul was right when he compared marriage to the wedding of Christ and Church. Sam and Chelsea’s unity ushered us into intimacy with Almighty Beauty Himself.