Emma and I were out this weekend because one of her best friends got married and Emma was a bridesmaid. It was truly a beautiful event. It was an outdoor wedding, which is always nerve-wracking when thinking of weather, but it could not have been more perfect. Clear skies, plenty of shade, and 72 degrees makes for a hard day to beat.
Getting to watch two people commit their lives to one another is one of the small miracles in life. I always enter a wedding feeling the same; wondering what sort of food will be served, or if there will be many people attending that I know, and hoping that the sermon is not too long or too, forgive the pun, preachy. And no matter how routine a wedding can seem at first, I always find myself in a surreal moment when the couple says their vows. Do you promise to love and keep this person, for life? That is a very big question, but when you have found the right person, it is the easiest question there is.
There was something in the wedding sermon that caught my attention. The preacher was telling the couple that love and romance are great, but when you wake up next to each other in ten years, and they are drooling on your pillow, love ain’t enough to cut it. Marriages need more than romance to survive. This type of sentiment has been present in every wedding sermon I can remember. It is good advice. Marriages do need more than love and romance to survive. They need trust, friendship, hope, commitment, support and honesty.
These words struck me, not for their novelty, but because we were sitting outside and I was watching a bird land on a tree nearby. I love trees. I also enjoy birds, but I really love trees. I am not really an outdoorsy person. I prefer air conditioning and the absence of bugs, but I still love trees. There is something romantic about them. Like a classic novel or a bowl of vanilla ice cream, there is something simple about the beauty of a tree. Whenever I am in nature, which is not very often (see the point about air conditioning above) I always think about God. Don’t worry, this is not some heavy-handed sermon about ecology, I just see God in trees, I do not know why. It was in this moment that the preacher’s words made sense to me in a new way.
I know that marriages need more than romance to survive, but I often forget that all relationships need more than romance and excitement to survive, and that includes relationships with God. We are always drawn to the flashy and romantic parts of God. Miracles, creation, floods, burning bushes and plagues. We read the Psalms and the prophets in their beautiful poetry and our souls long to hear that still small voice of God.
But ten years later when your life is falling apart around you, those beautiful poems can feel hollow. The miracles just seem like stories, and if God is speaking, we do not care to listen any longer.
The love of God is deep and strong. Its roots run deep like a tree, and over time it grows tall, providing shelter, fruit and shade. I start most days the same. Looking for the fleeting beauty of a flashy and romantic God-moment, like the bluebonnets on the side of the highway. Here today and gone tomorrow. Those moments are wonderful, but they do not sustain you through the storms. You do not build a house with bluebonnets.
I was reminded this weekend that a relationship with God takes work. It starts by sprouting roots that cannot be seen and it takes years for fruit to arrive. I always want to skip to the end. I believe that this is why God gave me my love for trees.
Do not be fooled by the flowers. Stop and smell them, but do not build your faith upon fleeting moments that feel good. God is more than a feeling. In the end, you will be thankful for the trees.
“Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” –Psalm 1:1-3
Have a wonderful week my friends,