There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1, 4.
My oldest daughter is getting married this year. In exactly 5 months and 27 days, Miss Terry will become Mrs. Tew. We are already knee-deep in wedding planning, and to be honest, I’m a little sick of it. It isn’t that I don’t want them to get married: she couldn’t have picked a better man and he’s already so much a part of my family that I think of him as another son. It isn’t that I think it’s wrong. They’ve been dating for years now and are totally committed to each other. No, it isn’t that I don’t want to let my little girl go. She moved out three years ago and has succeeded on her own. And it isn’t that I’m not interested in the plans. We’re having the wedding at a beautiful venue where everything is taken care of and we’ll all have a great time. I want it to go well, so we’re doing it right.
No, I’m sick of it because, to me, it just doesn’t seem like it’s time yet. Get me a little closer and it’ll seem more like time. The date is still far enough away to seem like it’s in the fog of the future. I don’t begrudge oldest daughter her wedding dreams. Every girl dreams of the white dress, the full church, the carriage of pumpkins pulled by former white mice; every girl wants to be a princess for her wedding day and mine is no different. To me, though, it just isn’t time. It’s too far out for me to grasp. My calendar for next week isn’t complete, so putting something on the docket for six months from now seems kind of far away.
Thank God for people who plan better than yours truly. Thank God my daughter, my wife, and a wedding planner at the venue are all heavily involved. I do project planning for a living so by the weekend, I’m a bit done in on it. Thank God that my wife is a great planner, and that our daughter learned well from her. Without them, we wouldn’t have put money down, had our tuxedo fittings, have the dress tailored, and involved daughter and (aspiring) son-in-law who are already working on invitations.
And thank God He knows better, that He gave us times for things. The times He gives us are the proper times, even when we don’t understand why or when.
I think of the play “Our Town.” It’s one of my favorite plays, even if it is darkly pessimistic. Back in high school, we read that play in class; I got to read the role of the Stage Manager. One lesson that comes from Mr. Wilder’s play is that there is a time for everything, and that we should appreciate every time for what it is. It’s a three-act play, with the first act being relatively light, capturing the liveliness of youth, the second act taking on depth as the main characters struggle with decisions that will affect them forever, and a third act in which we contemplate the meaning of life itself. There are times to weep and laugh, and times to mourn and dance. High school, marriage, crisis, pain, eternity: in the lives of the characters, there is a time for everything and everything to be enjoyed.
Very Ecclesiastical, I’d say.
Very much something I’ll keep in mind as we careen through the next few months of planning. Right now is a time to work, to save up and prepare for the celebration at the end of the year. In-between now and then are 25 Sundays in which to go to church, over 125 work days, birthdays for my wife and I both, a vacation in Arizona, a bridal shower in September, the election, six mortgage payments, the start of Christmas shopping, and a Thanksgiving day on which I really think we aren’t going to cook at all (we’ll go out for a fancy dinner instead; hello Ruth’s Chris). Every one of those days, from midnight to midnight, will be chock full of activity, of us using our talents (I hope) to the best of our ability. In every one of them, the God of all eternity who came to us both as the mighty pillar of fire, as the gentle whisper to Elijah, and as the kind Son named Jesus will be present for every second, encouraging us to look, listen, love and live (thank you Pastor Mark). Each one of those days will be filled with moments of individual celebration, individual challenge, and individual grace. Each one will present itself as appropriate for that time. Whether we weep, laugh, mourn, or dance depends on what’s going on in the moment.
Whether we do those things without God depends on us. He’ll be there in them. How about we be still for a few minutes and just know that He is?
I’m looking forward to walking my girl down the aisle even as it still seems pretty far away. Sure, it’ll be here before we know it; all too true. Until then, we all get to go along with plans being set in motion because people with more foresight (and better fashion sense) than me are hard at work planning out the North Texas wedding of the year. I know already that it will be a time to weep, laugh, and dance, and that’s something of which I could never be sick. If there is mourning before we get there, then that too will happen in God’s good time. Either way, thanks to some hard work and some loving effort, we’ll be ready.