Mellisa Ho—Sunter, Indonesia
MY THOUGHTS, NOT GOD’S THOUGHTS
Most of us dream of one day finding that one person we love—the one we will marry and live together with for the rest of our lives. That sense of anticipation culminates on the wedding day, which is the start of a shared life together. It is no surprise that weddings are highly esteemed, pompously celebrated, and planned to perfection. We even imagine the smallest of details, perhaps paying no attention to how much time or money it may cost.
I was no different. A beautiful wedding dress, a wedding venue lavishly decorated with luxurious flowers and sparkling crystal chandeliers, an extravagant wedding cake in the shape of a small white castle, hundreds of lavish and sumptuous banquet dishes, with strains of romantic arias in the background—that was my dream wedding. Such a wedding was not going to be easy to achieve, but my then-fiancé and I were willing to save up to make our dream a reality.
It was a truth universally acknowledged: weddings had to be this way. Or so I thought…
In the months before my wedding, as my fiancé and I were chatting with other brothers and sisters about their wedding experiences, we were astonished to discover that several of them had nothing more extravagant than a simple church ceremony. A preacher even suggested, “Maybe it is not necessary to have a wedding feast.”
No feasting and no banquet? I had always thought that a banquet was an integral part of any wedding—it would be strange not to have one. My wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I thought. It should be perfect!
What should I do? What does God really want me to do? My thoughts were in disarray—torn between having my dream wedding and the simple wedding that everyone around me espoused. I thought that I was not strong enough to let go of my dream wedding. However, as I look back and reflect, I realize the truth of this Bible verse:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8–9)
UNDERSTANDING FROM GOD
These thoughts were running through my mind as I attended several wedding banquets held by relatives and friends. Then, the most peculiar thing happened: my feelings began to change. Attending those banquets, I felt a deep sense of emptiness and lack of meaning. The more banquets I attended, the stronger this feeling grew.
It was confusing and unnerving. I asked myself, Why do I no longer feel the same joy and desire for my own dream wedding? I prayed and asked God what these feelings meant.
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. (Eccl 2:1)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:1–2)
God is truly miraculous. In the midst of my confusion towards my change of heart, He gave me a clearer understanding. I started to question myself: Why did I want a wedding feast? Was it because I wanted to be the “princess of the day,” the fairest of them all? All eyes would be on me, as the center of attention, for all to admire. But if so, where do I place my Lord Jesus?
I came to realize that, after being baptized as God’s child, “I” am no longer the most important. We should always put God first whatever the situation, even on our wedding day. We should walk a God-centered life, “[f]or [we] were bought at a price; therefore [we ought to] glorify God in [our] body and in [our] spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor 6:20). This way, our life will not be empty and full of vanity.
MY WEDDING, A CHANNEL FOR MY GOD
After a great struggle, God finally changed my heart, and I no longer wanted that girlish “dream wedding” anymore. Instead, I wanted to do something meaningful for God.
As I pondered on how to have a meaningful wedding, a thought suddenly came to mind. I recalled a sister and her husband once told me their dream wedding was an “evangelistic wedding service.” This was because, during a matrimonial service, many family members and friends willingly come to church, like “fish happily swimming into the net.” It would be an excellent opportunity to preach the gospel to them. This felt like a eureka moment, as if the Lord Jesus were telling me that this is the type of wedding He wanted me to have.
Moreover, if we did not have a separate banquet in another venue after the wedding service, all of our guests would have to come to church. They can learn about and experience worshipping in the True Jesus Church. As the Bible says:
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Tim 4:2)
My fiancé supported the idea, and we reorganized our plans so that we could have an evangelistic wedding service. Throughout this whole process, it felt like God was guiding us each step of the way.
IMPLEMENTING OUR PLANS
To start off, we had to explain the concept of an evangelistic wedding service to the officiating preacher and the members who would be helping to organize the big day. Firstly, we requested that the sermon message during the ceremony be changed to emphasize how man needs Jesus and the truth. Secondly, we requested that the choir presentation and hymns be themed on God’s love, and man’s need for God. Thirdly, we invited a brother and a sister to share testimonies, under the guise of “speeches from the friends of the bride and groom.” My fiancé even prepared a testimony on how God’s grace had led us to that moment. Fourthly, we prepared evangelistic pamphlets, a ten basic beliefs flyer, and a pen as our wedding souvenirs. Last of all, we recruited brothers and sisters as ushers, to accompany and preach the gospel to our non-believing friends and relatives during the post-ceremony lunch at church. We even went to the extent of preparing seating plans and providing background information on target guests.
Initially, we were really anxious because this evangelistic wedding concept was very different, and had never been done in our local church before. I was afraid to ask the church to help with our plans, but God gave me the courage to go ahead. By the grace of God, the evangelistic team were very supportive and more than willing to assist with our wedding plans. I thank God that He gave me the strength to carry out His will for me.
My fiancé and I pressed on with our plans and, praise the Lord, the wedding went smoothly! Afterwards, one of the non-believing guests shared with one of the ushers that he was touched by the ceremony and would be willing to return to attend church service.
The “evangelistic wedding” also edified the members, and many even started encouraging young couples to do likewise. Rather than spending our money to glorify ourselves, it would be better if we use it to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ instead. Sometimes we have to take a step back and reflect on our true intentions and the underlying desires that we are seeking to satisfy.
Remember, we have all been bought at a price, and our lives are no longer ours (1 Cor 6:19–20). In all that we do, we ought to give glory to God (1 Cor 10:31). May all the glory, honor and praise be unto Him. Amen.