Many of you heard this letter first hand and continue to comment on what was read. There are some of you that are curious about the letter that was read at our wedding. Brody and his family were not able to attend our wedding. This letter was gentle in tone and bold with the challenge of the Gospel:
“Let me start by saying that it is a little unnerving writing to a writer, giving counsel to a counselor, and pastoral direction to a pastor. Thanks for making me loose a little sleep guys. But to be honest, I am honored to take part in this day. I remember doing a wedding of a young couple where I shared in the leading of that wedding with an older pastor. It was one of my first weddings, and I was ready to learn. He was to open up the ceremony with a few comments for the young couple, and I was eager to hear what he had to say. He had been a pastor for years, and I was excited to gain insight from such a seasoned and patriarchal man of The Faith. I had enjoyed spending a little time with him at the rehearsal, and he seemed to possess a wisdom that a younger man like me needed to learn from. As he opened up the ceremony, I was anticipating the wisdom of a half-century of ministry, marriage, and life. He began by saying, “The most important thing you can know and do as you prepare for and head in to this marriage, is communication. Marriages that last, last because of strong communication. Marriages that fail, fail because of a failure to communicate. If you can learn to communicate well, you will be successful in marriage, and will live a long and healthy marriage.” I was confused. Communication? I mean I understand that it is vitally important and that marriages often suffer because of a lack of it. But, the one most important thing to tell someone in preparing them for the most sacred of all earthly institutions? Really? Then, the real bomb:
“And if could give you any advice on solving arguments, I would tell you to always take your clothes off in order to argue. This will make things seem almost ridiculous.”
I am serious. This was his “great” counsel. Ridiculous? I think that word better describes this man’s advice on marriage. As men and women of God, the most important thing we can learn about marriage comes from Christ, and the way he loved the church. He loves the church sacrificially, and gave himself to die and suffer for his bride. If I have learned, and continue to learn, anything about marriage, it is that marriage is a call to die. It is a call to be crucified with Christ, and not to crucify my wife on the altar of my on selfish wants or my own petty needs. If marriage is to be successful in the eyes of God, then it needs to reflect the Gospel. This is what scripture teaches, and scripture is THE authority under which our marriages must live. This is what moves a marriage from surviving, to thriving. The question I would continually challenge you guys with is, “How does our marriage reflect the Gospel-saturated love of Christ?”
Pursue that end. Strive for that kind of marriage. This is our great calling in marriage.
Jeff, I want to challenge you personally, as a man, to realize that you are not Joy, Meighan, and Caid’s personal savior. That job is taken. We are to live, in rebellion against Adam’s rebellion, as men who imitate Christ. Work and keep the garden of your own marriage. This is where the first man failed, and where Christ gives us hope. HE, is the savior of your family. Adam was unable to be or do what Christ did. In fact, it was Adam’s failure as a man and husband that led to Christ’s mission of saving a bride for himself. Live as God’s man for this family. As he leads you, submit daily to his word, and live under that authority. This will enable you and empower you to love Joy and the kids, like Christ. We do not stand in authority over God’s Word, but we live under it. We do not master it, but are mastered by it. Live as a man wrecked by the Gospel, and the Word of God, and you will not wreck you marriage, and family. This family was wounded, and Christ is healing them, and you are a massive part of that. Your submission to The Lord is vital to the completion of that healing. I am excited for you, and so confident that God has called you to this.
Joy, I would say to you that you can unclench your fists. You can stop living in a tense, braced, state. You have had to defend, protect, shelter, and guard your family. You have been both a mother and a father. You have been a pastor and a soldier. You have filled the roles God calls husbands and fathers to, while remaining the caregiver and mother and woman who honors her family by honoring Christ. You have done well. It has been a blessing to take part, in the healing process God has taken you through.
But now you are also a wife. This means you are not only Meighan and Caid’s mom, but you are Jeff’s wife. You have seen God’s faithfulness to your kids. This marriage, I believe, is your picture of God’s faithfulness to you, AND your kids. With Jeff, you will have to let your guard down, and learn to trust in areas of your life where you watched trust murdered and abandoned. But Jesus has taught you what trust really looks like, and, as he has been your true husband, so he must continue to be. Jeff is part of that plan, but he is not THE plan. Christ still is. So surrender yourself daily to Christ, and love your husband and kids, as Christ loves them through you.
And to Meighan and Caid, I want to tell you guys that what you are watching unfold, here, is an answer to a prayer that I have heard you pray and watched you long for, for the last three years. God is healing your family. But it is God who is doing that, not Jeff. He is a gift from the Lord, but he is not THE gift. Jesus is. You have learned, as hard as it has been, that Jesus is enough. And he still is. Long before you met Jeff, you had already seen what marriage is supposed to look like. You saw it in the way Christ loved your mom, and the way He loved both of you. If you continue to put all of your trust in The Lord, then you will enjoy the life he has now led the four of you into. If you do not, you will be disappointed. Because Jeff, your mom, and each of you will make mistakes, but Jesus won’t. He said he would never leave you or forsake you and he won’t. You have watched that become a reality in your life over the last few years.
Lastly, to those of you who are here today, you have a job. You are not here as spectators, or to enjoy a meal at Jeff’s expense, or to compliment or gossip about the choice of colors or dresses. You are here today because as a community of believers, we are saying to Jeff, Joy, Meighan, and Caid, “We agree with this marriage.” With that agreement comes the responsibility to pray for them, support them, and be here for them. Don’t come, watch, leave, and ignore. But rather, let’s love these guys well. They deserve and need it. Anyone who is married knows this.
One day Meighan and her husband, and Caid and his wife will walk down this isle, or one just like it. What they see today, and what they see between now and then will redeem much for them, and show them the way. That is part of our jobs as parents, anyway. We are to show the way. This day is not the beginning of that. From day one Jeff expressed the desire to example godly pursuit and courtship of a woman, by a man. I can give testimony to the faithfulness of that commitment, as so many who are gathered here today can as well.
So from Uganda, Africa, the Holloway family (Planet Holloway) rejoices with you this day. All seven of us. We love you and look forward to the years of sharing ministry and life together.”