Last Sunday I officiated at the wedding of two amazing Christians: Wilshaw Stevens, Jr. and Lynn Byers. Both graduates of Pittsburgh, they are pursuing careers in medicine–Wilshaw as a physical therapist for children and Lynn as an RN. I have known Lynn for eleven years as her pastor. Wilshaw, I met after they met in college. In the last year, as he worked with me to do a some pre-engagement counseling, I got to know Wilshaw quite well and I was impressed by the heart for God and the love he possessed for his now bride, Lynn.
You heard me right-pre-engagement counseling. He requested that I spend time with him examining God’s expectations for marriage and his own readiness to be the husband of Lynn Byers. Lynn, at the time, was serving as a nurse on a medical mission assignment in Haiti. Wilshaw was working in Dallas. I was pastoring in Pennsylvania. The work was done by phone and internet. It was a first for me. Later, Lynn would join this pre-engagement reflection. She was in Port-au-Prince, so we needed to do three way conversations by telephone with questions posted over the Net.
In December, when Wilshaw officially proposed to Lynn (who was now home from Haiti); there was no question that they were approaching this relationship out of their understanding of God’s will for them as persons and His desire for them to become one flesh, a new family serving God in a troubled, needy world where the darkness tries to quench the light.
Attending the wedding were family members, friends from the church, from the church they attended in Pittsburgh, and persons they had met on their personal journey–many of whom were Christians serving God in a variety of settings. Their mutual spiritual grandmother made the trip in from Pittsburgh to offer a prayer of blessing.
The music at the wedding reception began with contemporary Christian worship and praise music. (Later the group rocked to the oldies from the 60s and 70s). The spirit of celebration at that party was an infectious and as wholeness as I have ever experienced.
In fact, my memory of that day and of this couple will forever be etched with a powerful sense of joy. Make no mistake, they have chosen to work in hard and difficult places where sin is often strong and victimizes many. They both know what it is to experience deprivation and frustration. But it has not quenched the basic joy that is in them.
I Peter 1:8 comes to my mind when I think of this relationship: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”.