Today is Father’s Day, and it was like no other I have experienced. I had the unique privilege of walking my daughter, Amanda, down the aisle and giving her to her new husband, Phillip. I also had the pleasure of performing the wedding ceremony and pronouncing them husband and wife. I began the ceremony as a proud dad and ended the ceremony as a proud pastor.
In the early part of the wedding ceremony, I made the following comments to Amanda and Phillip.
Manda, I feel a bit like Steve Martin in the movie, “Father of the Bride,” where his daughter tells him she’s getting married. He looks across the dinner table and sees a 6-year old. She says, “Dad, we’re getting married!” When did you grow up?
Phillip, I feel a bit like Chuck Swindoll when he said that giving away a daughter is like giving a Stradivarius violin to a gorilla. Phillip, you are a good gorilla. But I’m entrusting one of my most valuable possessions to your care. Treat. Her. Well.
Manda, mom and I have been praying for this day since you were an infant. We prayed that God would bring the right man to you at the right time. We prayed that he would be a godly man who loved Jesus and loved you. We prayed that he would complement you. We believe that prayer has been answered.
Manda, when you were four months old, mom and I dedicated you to the Lord at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. At the time, Pastor Kent Hughes said this about your name. “Amanda comes from the Latin which means ‘worthy of love.’ Gayle means one who is lively and happy. Amanda Gayle, the Gospel teaches us that we are loved by God. May this be your first understanding of God—and a lifelong awareness as you go through life. May this knowledge animate your life—and fill you with happiness!”
Amanda Gayle, mom and I have prayed and continue to pray that you find your true happiness in the love of God.
Phillip, you have a significant name as well. The name, Phillip, comes from the Greek and means “lover of horses.” Maybe that explains why you like road trips. Horses – horse power; they’re close. There are two significant Philips in the Bible. Philip was one of Jesus’ disciples and later one of the Apostles. The book of Acts mentions another Philip who was an evangelist who helped spread the good news of the gospel. The name, Michael, comes from the Hebrew and means, “Who is like God?” In the Bible, Michael is an archangel who leads the angelic armies against Satan.
Later in the ceremony, I spoke about what Scripture says the roles and responsibilities of a husband and wife are to be. I concluded my message with some thoughts on what type of commitment is required for a successful marriage.
This kind of a marriage is supernatural. It can only be accomplished through God’s grace and in his power. It requires commitment to him and to each other.
Mom and I, or Carol and I, have some good friends, Phil and Ellen Tuttle. During the early years of their marriage, whenever they had an argument, they might throw out the “D” word, Divorce. On one occasion, Phil wanted to make a statement about his commitment to Ellen. So he grabbed the dictionary in their house, took an X-Acto knife, and surgically removed the word “divorce” from their dictionary. Years later, their daughter, Emily, who is your age, Amanda, would show that dictionary to her friends. It gave her a sense of security and pride to know her parents were committed to each other and had removed that word from their vocabulary.
I want to challenge you to make that same commitment to each other today. As you say your vows, you are making a statement to each other in front of us and before God that divorce is not an option. To help signify that, I have a gift for you. It is a dictionary with the word “divorce” removed. The downside is that you also lose whatever is on the other page, on the back side of that word. But it demonstrates that to say, “Yes,” to each other means you have to say, “No,” to other people and other options.
As it turns out, the other side of the word “divorce” in this dictionary is the word, “divide.” By removing both words from the dictionary, you commit to not allowing yourselves to become so divided that you think divorce is the answer.
May God bless Phillip and Amanda Sturgeon!