Kristi and the boys and I recently enjoyed dinner on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.
As you can imagine, getting a 5 year-old and a 2 year-old to dinner and back in this setting is kind of an adventure. We parked on Travis Street, took a flight of stairs down to the Riverwalk, and followed the water for what seemed like a pretty good distance.
The boys were well-behaved, but it's still a little nerve-wracking making sure no one gets too close to the water or gets lost in the crowd. On the way back to our car after dinner, we were the classic picture of a family with small children: Daddy holding the hand of the 2 year-old who's had a noticeable accident, Mommy holding the hand of the 5 year-old who would just as soon follow the ducks off the path, both boys clutching their flashing, souvenir cups from the restaurant. Throw in a backpack of "kid stuff" and the picture is complete.
As our rag-tag caravan made its way through a quiet area of the Riverwalk, we came across an unexpected scene: A bride with her father and bridesmaids, gathered together by the water, waiting out the last few moments before her big moment, ready to take a stairway up to an open area where wedding music was playing.
In order to proceed, we had to squeeze right by this group, within inches of them, apologizing and trying not to impose in any way.
It was a chance encounter, but an interesting pair of snapshots to look at side-by-side. This new bride provided us with a visual reminder of where we were seven years ago next month, and, if by any chance she noticed and thought about it, we might have given her a picture of what could be in store for her and her new husband in the coming years.
A preacher I know often points out that a wedding and a marriage have frighteningly little in common, and our two snapshots provide evidence of his claim: The formality, pomp, and idealism of the wedding day, giving way to the all too "down-to-earth" reality of making it all work in a marriage with children.
So, which picture is right?
The perfect wedding dress? Or, a child's wet pants? The strings that serenade the bride coming down the aisle on the day she's dreamt of her entire life? Or, the clatter of cookpots on the kitchen floor, serenading mom on a random Tuesday afternoon? The carefully chosen words of devotion spoken earnestly by bride and groom? Or, the sometimes careless words of hurriedness, spoken over the shoulder or around the corner, by harried husband and wife?
Well, if you've been there awhile, you know they're all right; they're all true. You're not going to have one without the other. It's a mistake to overlook or to exaggerate the importance of either at the expense of the other.
Which picture is more true:
The new creation emerging from the water?
Peace in the face of imminent death?
Moments of intimacy with God that put a lump in your throat and bring a tear to your eye?
Times of everyday ordinariness that leave you wondering if you're missing something?
The clutch of temptation and sin?
The embrace of a forgiving God?
The approval of the like-minded?
The scorn of some who think it's so foolish?
Once again, they're all true. Each one is a part of the deal. None can be ignored or forgotten. Each will have its place in the life of a Christian.
Where is wisdom?
Wisdom lies in seeing one of those pictures while experiencing its opposite.