Sunday, May 17, 2009

mysterious happenings

If it had been Sunday, the room would have been used for Sunday school. A groom and 8 groomsmen were chilling out, eating nachos and drinking Dr. Peppers. Their room was calm and the atmosphere playful when I entered with a box of boutonnieres.

As I was pinning the boutonniers on to each of the groomsmen’s jackets, the best man poked his head into the room to inform the groom that he had to stay put, the bride was entering the building.

Instead of fidgeting nervously, as I’d seen some grooms do before, this groom calmly pulled out his Bible, took a seat in the corner, and relaxed as he awaited his turn for photographs in the sanctuary and the beginning of one of the most momentous occasions of his life.

The image of the serenity surrounding the groom at that moment remained in my mind throughout the day, as it was the only patch of tranquility during a harried wedding where so many things seemed to have gone wrong.

Every wedding has its mess-ups, it glitches—a missing letter in the program, a grandmother shows up late for her entrance, or the wrong color cake frosting. That’s part of the package and most of the time those aren’t the things we remember. But this particular wedding had several major mishaps that can’t be excused as coincidence.

Though spiritual warfare affecting a wedding sounds shady and unlikely, it cannot be ignored that two sold-out Christians, both members of a church filled to the brim of fireball believers, might be a particular target of the enemy.

Throughout the week leading up to the wedding, it became apparent that not just the wedding, but many people related to wedding were being targeted. Now that I look back, it does not surprise me that Satan would try to rob a small portion of the body of Christ of some of its joy. And it all began with a lingerie shower.

Though the shower in itself was the most enjoyable bridal shower I’d ever been too, there was a small pervading presence of disquiet among the single girls and even some of the girls who were in serious dating relationships. One of these girls mentioned to me that she thought some sort of spiritual battle was going on among the girls at the shower. The laughter and unity of the event was not diminished, but the feeling that Satan was trying to discourage us never left.

Then there was the night before the wedding. My sister, who was the florist and a bridesmaid, came home discouraged and disheartened after a fun evening at the rehearsal dinner. Her discouragement could have been excused as exhaustion, but she claimed not to be tired and her feelings were odd ones to have after laughing and fellowshipping with other believers. Strange things was, I was feeling the same way.

The day of the wedding, the sun was shining. Though rain was predicted, we all felt sure the Lord would hold back the waters for this young couple and all the people gathered to celebrate with them.

I was at the location for the reception, putting together a kissing ball so my sister could get ready with the other bridesmaids. Though I’m not near as skilled at flower arranging as she is, I’d made kissing balls before and did not expect it to be difficult. However, I had to change working locations and call my sister twice to get ideas as the kissing ball wilted and fell apart in my hands.  In the end there was no kissing ball.

After the fiasco with the kissing ball, I prepared to go to the wedding. As I was leaving the reception location, 30 minutes before the wedding began, the storm approached and the rain began to pour. Friends and the kitchen ladies were scurrying around at the outdoor reception area to pull tables and chairs into dry areas.

Next, I was driving back to the church and I came upon a terrible car accident where a car had flipped and hit an electrical pole. This, I heard later, caused the power at the church to go out momentarily. This also caused all the wedding traffic to take a detour on the way to the reception. An inconvenience that, standing alone, may not have drawn so much attention, but joined with the other mysterious happenings, gave more indication of the enemy’s hand.

The rain continued to come down during the final minutes before the ceremony began. The time it was at its worst was the exact time that the bride was being transported by van from her dressing room to the lobby outside the sanctuary.

Despite the rain, however, the ceremony took place and was a joyous, God-honoring celebration. Despite the rain, everyone made it to the reception safely. Despite the rain, the celebration continued during the reception that took place inside a garage and under canopies.

But as the rain did little to diminish the joy, the Devil tried a few other tricks.  A table of food mysteriously collapsed, breaking a score of glasses. Almost as soon as the bride and groom arrived, the power in the house went out and did not return for the rest of the evening.

A groom, reading his Bible on his wedding day, could encourage the one believer who saw it, or it could encourage more. That’s why I’m writing this. That’s why Satan didn’t like the wedding. That’s why the burden that so many people felt leading up to the wedding, during the wedding, and after the wedding were evidences that Satan may have gained a small victory.

But as the story usually goes, he gets his little victories here and there, only to be mightily defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. God allows spiritual warfare because a greater glory and a greater joy will be achieved when it is finished.

It was 11PM. 5 girls gathered together in a living room. They had left a wedding where they had all sensed the devil at work, trying to diminish their joy.

He did get an upper hand at some points during the day. They all admitted it. But the evening ended with prayer. Prayer for the new couple in Christ; prayer for each other; and thanksgiving to a God who displays His power in ways we don’t expect.

It would have been easy for God to hold back the rain. That’s what we would have expected. But the rain, and the other mishaps, made an even greater occasion for God to be glorified, as well as an even greater celebration with a more lasting joy.  

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