{For those who don’t know, my dad is a pastor, so he is the one who married Grant and me.}

My dad and I slowly approached the large wooden doors of the church sanctuary. I held on tightly to his arm as the beat of my own heart seemed to almost drown out the music that was resonating through the halls.

Then, the music stopped as the last chord of Canon in D was played.

There was a long moment of silence, and then I heard my oldest brother Jeremy say, “All rise.”

I watched from the doorway as people begin to stand. They began turning their heads towards the back of the sanctuary. 

They were looking for me.

I think one of the reasons that a father walks his daughter down the aisle is not just because it’s symbolic, but also to make sure she makes it down the aisle.

I know I couldn’t have made it down on my own.

I heard the piano start to play the strong and thunderous chords of God of Our Fathers.

This was it.

Slowly, my dad and I stepped through the double doors.

I felt my lip and chin begin to quiver as we aligned ourselves with the center aisle.

Was I going to be able to do this?

And then, I saw him. 

Grant looked tall and sharp in his Marine Corps uniform.

His black shoes shined and his golden uniform buttons glimmered.

But nothing could compare to the beam of his face when his eyes met mine.

Grant had the biggest smile on his face that I had ever seen. He didn’t look nervous or apprehensive. He just looked happy. So happy.

And now, I was smiling uncontrollably too.

Suddenly, I could feel and see again.

And I began to not only know how special and important this moment in our lives was, but I began to take it in.

As my dad and I made our way down the long aisle, my eyes were fixated on one person alone: Grant Castleberry.

As we reached the front of the church, the music stopped.

For a long moment, there was dead silence as we stood there at the front of the church. It was almost as if time stood still as everyone held their breath and waited for what was about to take place.

And then my brother asked, “Who gives this bride to be married?

And I heard my dad answer, “Her mother and I.”

My dad lifted my veil and kissed me on the cheek. I couldn’t believe he was giving me away.

As I stood there with the tears falling, my dad gently took my hand and led me to Grant. He placed my hand in Grant’s hand.

I hadn’t expected my dad to do that, to lead me to Grant. It struck me as such a visible symbol of what was taking place.

My dad had protected me and had taken care of me since I was a little girl, and now he was entrusting me to the protection of Grant.

Grant grasped my hand tightly, and I found courage.

Together, we climbed the stairs to the altar.

We faced one another, as my dad’s voice begin to resonate throughout the sanctuary,

Dear friends, we are gathered here together in the presence of Almighty God and His holy angels, to unite Grant Robert Castleberry and GraceAnna Maude Broggi in holy matrimony.”

“At the dawn of human history,” he proceeded, “God saw the need of a man for a woman, and a woman for a man. And after God had evaluated each dimension of His creation, six times over He said it was good. But then after He created Adam, He said it was not good. 

My dad looked down at his open Bible as he continued,

“God said in Genesis 2,  ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,
‘This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

I listened to the words that my dad read from the creation account. And though I had heard them so many times before, it felt like I was hearing it for the very first time.

I thought about the fact that marriage was God’s design from the beginning. It was His idea. And He was the One who performed the very first marriage ceremony.

And God had designed me to be a “helper suitable” for Grant. We were equal, and yet, God had a special role for each of us.

We bowed our heads as my dad thanked God for sovereignly bringing us together. My heart overflowed with gratitude to God, because I knew, that he had indeed brought Grant and I together.

Our hearts joined in worship as we sang one of our favorite hymns, There is a Redeemer.

My brother, Grant, read one of our favorite verses, John 7:37-39.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

Then my dad gave the most encouraging and challenging sermon about the seriousness of the commitment we were about to make to one another and the beauty of marriage as it reflects Christ and the church.

First, my dad looked at me and charged me to be Grant’s helper and to submit to Grant’s leadership. He began to clarify the highly misunderstood term of “submission.” My dad explained that Jesus is our perfect example of submission. He is equal with the Father, and yet He submits to the Father.

“A home needs a head.” My dad continued, “Without a head, its dead, and if there’s two heads, you have a monster.”

He went on to share that submission is necessary in every facet of society in order for it to function in a healthy way.

Then, my dad turned to Grant. He charged him to be a “servant-leader.” He told Grant that his love for me was to be revealed in sacrificial leadership. He was to love me as his own body.

My dad looked directly at Grant as he spoke, “On this day, I am passing the baton with my wife, Audrey. We are giving you now the responsibility to protect her, to nourish her . . .”

My dad’s voice broke for a moment. I felt the tears rising again as I realized what a special moment this was.

My dad continued, “and to take care of her. And I know you will give your very, very best. And when you love GraceAnna, you really love yourself, because the two become one. So really, whatever you do to GraceAnna, you do to yourself.”

My dad went on further to explain the equality of our persons and the differences in the way that God created us from 1 Peter 3:7 which says that the woman is the “weaker vessel.”

He then asked a series of questions to help us understand the passage.

What’s weaker? Fine japanese silk or burlap? Is burlap better than silk?”

“What’s weaker? Cast iron or gold? Is gold inferior to cast iron?”

“What’s weaker? Porcelain or stainless steel?” 

“Now with porcelain you can make a fine china cup and with stainless steel you can make a high quality hammer, but you can’t drink out of a hammer and you can’t drive nails with a cup. 

“God made you different, he gave you different roles that He might make you one.”

And then my dad asked a question that I will never forget, “Why is submission so very important and why is sacrificial love so critical? Because it illustrates the sacrificial love Christ has for His people.”

“As you know,” he went on to explain, “One of the great misconceptions of Christianity is that you can earn your way to heaven. That if somehow the good outweighs the bad, God will say, ‘Come on in!’ But the Apostle Paul said, ‘If a man could be saved by his good deeds, than there was no need for Christ to die.’ Christ’s death was not a mistake, it was not an act of martydom, it was a choice that He made. He chose sacrificially to give himself for us.”

My dad turned to Grant and said, “In the same way you are to sacrificially love GraceAnna.

He turned to me and said, “And you, GraceAnna, are to mimic the Lord Jesus as well.”

“And the only way that you can do that,” he said now, looking at both of us, “is in God’s strength.”

I had thought before the wedding, that I would probably be too nervous to really listen to my dad’s sermon. But I heard every word of my dad’s charge to us. 

It hadn’t been just a few short and sweet words about marriage, it had been a solemn challenge.

As my dad closed his sermon, Grant took my hands in both of his.

And he started to tell me, before God, and everyone present that he would always love me, that he would always take care of me through the good times and the bad, and that the only thing that would ever separate his commitment to me was death.

Grant stared unflinchingly into my eyes as he spoke and I knew that he meant every word.

I watched as he slipped the gold ring onto my finger.

And then it was my turn.

For a moment, the thought crossed my mind . . . Am I ready for this?

I knew that there would be no going back. I was about to make a solemn vow before God to always love the man that stood in front of me until death separated us.

This man, who just a year ago, had seemingly dropped out of nowhere.

This man, who so naturally, had become my best friend.

This man, who God had so clearly brought into my life.

I took Grant’s hand in mine and stared into his eyes.

God, this is it. I prayed silently. I promise to be committed to Grant until death separates us.

Grant’s gaze was still fixated on me. And I began to promise him that I would love him, respect him, submit to him, and take care of him.

I slipped the gold band that had once belonged to Grant’s father onto his finger.

We stood there, staring at one another in astonishment as my dad proclaimed,

“I now pronounce you man and wife. What God has joined together, let no man separate.”

“Now I can’t think,” my dad continued, “of a better way to begin your marriage, than in prayer.”

to be continued…

2 thoughts on “Texas Heart – Part 33 {A Solemn Charge}

  1. Absolutely Beautiful! This is how all marriages should begin…I can’t wait to read the rest!: ) Sorry if you got this comment more than once, for some reason it goes to a different screen after you press the post comment button. If you did then please ignore this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s