By Debra L. M. Sparks
"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land." (Song of Solomon 2:11-12 KJV)
The music resounded to the strains of Jesu’, Joy of Man’s Desiring. She rounded the corner and entered the doorway that would lead her down the aisle to her waiting "prince". The room was awash in candlelight. He stood at the front of the long aisle, just before the flower-laden altar, surrounded by his attendants and hers. He was beautiful, his wavy black hair, his wide shoulders; he was dressed in a gray Victorian day coat and his beautiful hands were covered by white gloves. But mostly, his piercing black eyes are what she noticed. They looked straight at her, past her it seemed, into her very soul; into her heart. They shone like black diamonds and yet held nothing compared to the beauty and passion that flowed out of the depths of him.
Time stopped as she stood quite still in the entryway and took in the scene unfolding before her. And then, she looked once more at him – directly at him – into those eyes, and eternity opened. He stood smiling at her, and yet in awe of her, waiting for her, desiring her, loving her. Their hearts so intertwined, they both knew there was only the two of them and the One who had brought them to this place. The softly lit room seemed to fade into a dreamlike state and her heart told her once again, this was the man that God had selected for her, the man who she had waited for all of her life. And her spirit sang.
Suddenly, the music pierced her inner silence and time started once again as she stepped forward into the room. Over the strains of the music she heard the words, "Please stand in honor of the bride" …
… They stood facing each other, her lacy-gloved hands held in his own, his voice unwavering, despite the tears glistening on his cheeks, and wetting his beard. He spoke loud enough for even those in the back row to hear as his solemn vow rang out. From his own heart and soul unto hers, and unto God he spoke the words, "For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, I love you, I honor you … Forsaking all others … I choose you to be my wife … I WILL ALWAYS BE FAITHFUL TO YOU." He emphasized the last words in a firm voice louder, clearer than the rest of the vows.
She smiled at him through her own tears, knowing how desperately he meant those words, and then reached out to wipe the tears from his cheek before repeating her vows to him and to God in front of their pastor, their family, friends and co-workers who had come not only as witnesses, but to rejoice over the joining of these two who they so loved and respected …
* * *
The scene played out in front of her as if it was truly happening – only now, it was only an illusive memory which came to her on this night, as she lay in her bed – alone.
Today would have been their 15th wedding anniversary, and a day of great rejoicing, dancing, dining and celebration. Instead, it was a day filled with prayers that God would help her to get through it and that the pain and loss would not pierce her to the soul, overtaking her and pushing her into the abyss; to a state of utter despair.
The Hater had come – he had come into their marriage after many years and planted his tiny seeds of destruction. And they had not seen them until the seeds had become cedars, which grew out of the very foundation of their love. The Liar had come, planting deceptions that only a Betrayer uses to divide and separate, if he can, anything that the Master Lover of Our Souls brings together, and sets aside for His purpose and His glory.
It was these deceptions that led to the day of supreme heartbreak – to the day of rejection, abandonment and loss. To the day when her bridegroom had come to say he was leaving. And so, he did. His heart broken, not knowing what else to do, forgetting how much the God who brought them together desired to take the broken and the ruined and revive, renew, to heal, to mend and remake. He walked away, unwilling to submit his wounded heart to the hand of the Healer, leaving her to her own ruptured heart. And the Hater rejoiced, dancing his mad dance of destruction, devastation and despair.
The night encompassed her now, and she lay abed wrapped in her sadness, the sobs catching in her throat as she remembered another time…
* * *
They had determined to hike down to the base of the waterfall. It was July in Yellowstone National Park and they had taken a long weekend just to rejoice in each other’s company and in the miracle of God’s awesome creation. They had started their long, steep, downhill trek some time before they came to this ledge, halfway down to their goal. The ledge was grassy and covered with shrubs and carpeted in wildflowers. The rock wall rose hundreds of feet above them where the water threw itself and in total abandon, came crashing down still more hundreds of feet below them to the river which had cut its way into the awesome terrain of this breathtaking place. They rested, sitting and lying in the cool grass, the spray of the mighty waterfall glistening on their faces. It seemed unbelievable to feel so peaceful in the presence of the mighty crashing sound of the water surrendering itself to the depths below.
Then she noticed it – growing out of the rock wall, just to the side, where only the spray from the water would sometimes hit it, grew a tiny flower. It was lavender with deep violet at its center. She rose from where they were lounging together, and walked over, closer to the cliff, and to the place where the flower grew out of the wall. Reaching up, she touched the flower and noticed how transparent and fragile it seemed and yet it had been persistent enough to go through the trouble of growing seemingly out of solid rock. What determined grace, she thought to herself, and then she could feel his closeness as he came up behind her and encircled her with his strong arms. He looked over her shoulder at the subject of her attention as she cuddled back into him. They stood together in this way, as she spoke to him of amazement to the point of tears at the lesson of the flower piercing its way through rock to come out into the sunshine and to grow in this restful secluded place. They stood together for a long time, marveling, and even thrilling together over the myriad lessons of such a wonder; total intimacy, the joining of two souls, hearts and even minds.
* * *
The quiet weeping turned to sobs as the memory played over in her mind; in her shattered heart. And then, what sounded like a fragile, faint voice of a child cried out into the night, "Lord, come to me. I am hurting and I cannot bear it alone."
And in the midst of her pain and in the darkness of the room she heard, "Little one, it is I who have engraved you in the palm of My hand. I have come to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds." (Isaiah 49:16, Psalm 147:3). "If you will trust Me, I will not allow this shattering of your heart to result in anything other than my glory and my purpose. My child, the greatest loss is not the loss of your loved one – it is the loss of faith."
"Come to me – thou who aren’t afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, for I will set your stones in fair colors and lay your foundations with Sapphires. Your Maker is your Husband . . . for the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed and I will have mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:5, 10-11)
And again, she was back at the waterfall, His arms were around her, and He held her closely; only now, when she looked down at the arms and at the hands that she rested in, she saw that they were not the beautiful hands of the man who had been her husband, they were hands which were scarred, they had been torn, they carried the cruel marks of having been pierced through with stakes. They were hands which carried the calluses of a carpenter … and the glory of a Savior. She nestled back against Him as He encircled her with his arms – arms that had once been stretched out on a cross, as He was lifted up from the earth, and as he bled forth; the Redeemer. His own heart had been shattered within Him – and water and blood had together soaked the spear, which had pierced his side. He had been crucified, beaten, rejected, betrayed, abandoned, wounded, so that she could be healed; so that she could know peace.
She listened as He whispered His love for her – how He loved her – beyond measure. And they stood together, at the waterfall, the Lover and the beloved, the Creator and His creation. He was the Rock – and she, the tiny flower. It was His strength and sufficiency that had brought her forth into the sunlight and it was His arms that now held her. He was the One who had called her, and the One who would complete her. He knew the first word she uttered and He knew the last word that she was to say on this earth. He knew her long before even one day of her life had come to be. He was the One who would bind up her broken heart. He was the one who would present her one day before His Father. She was a bride once more. His bride decked out in white satin, lace and pearls, radiant in innocence, spotlessly pure. Despite her failures, despite her weaknesses, despite the loss of her husband, in the eyes of her Lord, she was perfect, blameless, unblemished, deeply loved and stunningly beautiful; she was His very own. And HE WOULD ALWAYS BE FAITHFUL to her, for He is called Faithful and True (Revelations 19:11).
A Peace beyond understanding flooded the room as her agony transformed into worship. And then, she was asleep – wrapped in the arms of her Lover – her Comforter, Bridegroom, Healer, Restorer, Provider, and Redeemer. He had come to make all things new – He would care for the man who had been her husband and her soul mate AND . . . He would care for her.
Oh! … The sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the LORD. They will sing, `Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good. His faithful love endures forever! (Jeremiah 33:11)
I will restore to you the years which the locust (the destroyer) has eaten… (Joel 2:25)
Debra is native Montanan presently living in the southwest high desert of New Mexico. My most recently published piece is SUNSET ON THE GULF OF NEW MEXICO published in God's Way for Couples, 2004 - released by Harrison House Publishers. I may be contacted via Faithwriters, or by writing to WINTERPAST WRITINGS, 17 Via De Miguel NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.
LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I’ve learned that love can grow beyond your wildest expectations. My love for my wife, Trish, has crashed the exponential scale.
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