I watched his shoulders as he walked up the mountain through the fog, hoping his posture would tell me how he was feeling. Raindrops trickled down his suit coat, and I thought to myself, I will never forget watching my son climb this muddy mountain to wait for his bride.
Josh and Brandi had spent weeks looking for the perfect setting for an intimate wedding. Eventually they chose a beautiful mountainous area with hiking trails and gorgeous views. They would say their vows and read their hand-written covenant promises on the peak of a mountain at sunset, with layered ridges in shades of blue as their backdrop.
The forecast had been sunny and clear that day, but as we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway, thick fog settled over the mountain and rain poured from the clouds.
I had envisioned us all in the parking lot greeting each other with hugs and smiles, celebrating this day we had been waiting for. Some would be meeting for the first time as two families became one. Instead, we were all in our separate cars, staying dry as long as we could.
Earlier that morning, Josh told us if it rained, we would follow each other to another parking lot, walk a shorter trail, and squeeze under a gazebo for a wedding without a view. Unfortunately, one of the grandmothers had been taken up the trail before the rain started, and now they needed to get her back down safely.
My husband, J.J., got out of our car to see if he could help while I sat inside shaking my head in disbelief. I silently questioned God, Why did You let this happen? You know how hard they worked to prepare for this day, how little they asked for. Sunshine was all they needed.
I wanted their wedding day to be perfect. I wanted them to feel like God was there with them, taking care of every detail. I wanted beauty and sunshine, smiles and laughter. I never thought it would rain, and I definitely didn’t anticipate fog as thick as cotton.
I pulled out my phone to take a picture, and suddenly I remembered: God knew all along. God knew what their wedding day would look like. I didn’t understand it or like it, but it wasn’t up to me to fix it. It was up to me to decide if I was going to stay stuck in disappointment or trust God with the details.
J.J. knocked on the car window, jolting me out of my bewilderment. He told me we were going up the mountain but not all the way to the top. Josh decided we would walk up the trail together until he found a clearing. Brandi and her dad would wait in their car until the rest of us were in position and ready for the ceremony to begin.
Following behind my son, I noticed how deliberate he was with each step. Eyes on both the path and the horizon, he looked for an open area where we could all fit.
I knew their wedding day could be marked by disappointment, yet I sensed unexpected hope. Somewhere between disappointment and trust, heaven touched earth as God slowly revealed His presence was with us.
Less than halfway up the mountain, Josh stepped into a wide open space, and we all stopped. Thick fog rested on the outer edge of the clearing, but we were all under a covering of light as the sun filtered through a canopy of trees. A small waterfall trickled down rocks to our left, and a huge knotted tree root lay across the forest to our right. This was it!
Standing on the edge of rocks, surrounded by mud, greenery and roots, we waited and listened to a violin playing the bride’s procession as Brandi walked up the mountain through the fog. It became a wedding unlike any other. A scene only God could create.
They stood beside gigantic roots of an ancient tree, beautiful bark woven together by the hand of God, and we stood in awe as our pastor read the passage Josh and Brandi had chosen weeks before, sacred words they wanted as a banner over their marriage:
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us . . .
Ephesians 3:17-20 (NIV)
Not one drop of rain fell during the ceremony, and though it was not at all what they planned, it was better than they could have imagined. God knew all along. And in the end, He gave them more than what they could have given themselves. He gave them Himself and a beautiful wedding, too!
More than anything I was grateful He gave them His peace and evidence of His presence in the midst of disappointment, crumbling plans, and unanswered questions.
He offers us the same today. No matter what disappointment we are facing, God is with us, working in ways we may not yet see.
Photo Credits: David and Sarah Whitlow, Two Cents Photo + Film