Reflections on a Joy-Filled Day
By Mark Earley
I rejoiced at the recent wedding of my son to a wonderful Christian woman. And I was reminded how precious the institution of marriage is to our Lord.
Two weeks ago, my wife, Cynthia, and I witnessed the marriage of our son, Mark Jr. He is our third child to be married—we have six. As with the weddings of my other children, it was one of the happiest weekends of my life.
There is little more a father can hope for than to see his children grow to maturity in Jesus and to marry someone who also loves Jesus. Mary Alice’s face was astonishingly radiant as she and Mark stood together at the altar. And Mark’s face was filled with a sense of awe and wonder—as if he were asking, “Do I really deserve this blessing?”
The pastor reminded the young couple that marriage involves submission, humility, respect, and love. (I reminded them that a sense of humor helps a lot!) And we were all reminded that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church—a glimpse of the joy and unity that will one day be made perfect at the coming of His Kingdom.
As I stood there, assuming the position of best man, my thoughts kept flashing back to when Mark Jr. was a baby. Cynthia and I would stand over his crib and pray for his life and destiny. We prayed for a wife who would love God, love him, and love people. Now I was seeing the answer to that prayer some 22 years later. And it gave me renewed confidence in God’s faithfulness over the long haul.
I had recently been reminded by Mike Timmis, the chairman of Prison Fellowship’s board, to reflect upon the fact that Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding. He could have picked the most auspicious public event in the Roman Empire, but He picked a rural wedding. And he turned water into wine. Indeed, weddings, marriage, and all the solemnity and celebration that go with them are important to Jesus.
So now, after our celebration, I go back to praying—praying for my three children yet to be married and praying for our newlyweds. I pray that as romance and roses turn into diapers and dishes, their union would continue to bring honor to God, joy to them, and blessings to others.
But I also have to pray for the institution of marriage itself—especially within the Church. It’s no secret that marriage is on the ropes in this country, with anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. Even worse, divorce rates among born-again Christians are about the same.
And of course, we’re witnessing the reinvention of marriage in America as something other than a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman.
But today, would you join me in praying for marriages around the world? Would you ask God to restore to His people a sense of the sacredness of marriage? Pray that God would defend the institution of marriage.
But most of all, pray for the marriages of your family and friends—and your own. Ask God to rekindle love, fidelity, and servanthood as the cornerstones of these holy relationships.
I know that’s my prayer for Mark, Jr., and Mary Alice.