This past week I found myself hiking up Sharp Top Mountain in Jasper, Georgia surrounded by 400 something high schoolers and Young Life leaders, when one of my favorite high school guys asked me to tell them the story of how Christy and I wound up together. It was a hot morning on day five of Young Life’s week long summer camp at Sharp Top Cove and I was glad to have a story to tell and questions to answer, because it made the steep climb that much more enjoyable. Step by step, the story of our life together unfolded in my memory and came out on the trail. I talked about our first kiss and about those two long years dating long distance. I talked about finally living in the same town and then getting engaged... it was at this particular point that we realized the small group of four or five girls hiking in front of us were listening in... I told the part about how I am the only boy my wife has ever kissed and well, they sort of exploded with girly sighs and admitted that they were listening intently to every detail and asked me to please continue.
I told these kids about how almost everyone tried to talk us out of getting married in college but how it wound up being the best decision we ever made. I told them how sweet and fun it was to know you’d never be alone again now that you could have a slumber party with your best friend every night... I thought about the day we were married almost nine years ago, August 3rd, 2001. I remembered being outside at the Museum of Appalachia surrounded by peacocks and sheep and everyone we loved. I remembered how it had rained all morning, but when that hot august sun burst through those clouds, the rain that had fallen became a mist rolling along the tall, green grass. And I still remember the way I felt when my bride appeared at the end of the aisle smiling wide and walking toward me through the mist like a princess from the very best of fairy tales.
I was a man undone by love, gratitude and joy... joy like palpable flame... red hot gladness pouring from my eyes, down past my cheek to my freshly pressed suit. I was happier than I had ever been... happy in my bride. She was all my joy.
This morning I woke reluctantly and dragged my groggy self out of bed early. I opened my journal and started scratching out illegible prayers. I told the Lord that I was about to go to the Scriptures and I needed Him to open my heart to His word and to open His word to my mind. I asked Him to tell me something... to give me something for this day. I turned to Isaiah 62 and read this: “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
Wow. Really, Lord? That’s the way you feel about me? The way I felt that day when Christy came down the aisle? The way I felt last night when I watched her beautiful face fall so sweetly asleep? You feel that way about me?! You love me like that? Oh man... who can bear this? Who can handle it? How can I cope with the gravity of this love, this truth, and yet, how could I ever live without it?