This afternoon, I walked my youngest daughter, Caitlin, down the aisle and gave her to her new husband, Andrew. As a dad who is also a pastor, I had the privilege of sharing in part of the ceremony. I gave a brief message before leading the couple through their declarations. Here are the thoughts I shared with Caitlin and Andrew. Some of which were also shared with Amanda & Phillip, our oldest daughter and her husband, when I performed their wedding in June 2015.
Caitlin, when I stood before Amanda and Phillip on their wedding day, I said that I felt 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!” I have that same feeling today on your wedding day. When did you grow up and become a young woman?
Andrew, when Amanda and Phillip were married, I told Phillip that I felt a bit like Pastor Chuck Swindoll when he said that giving away a daughter is like giving a Stradivarius violin to a gorilla. I have that same feeling again. Andrew, you are a good gorilla. But I’m entrusting one of my most valuable possessions to your care. Treat. Her. Well.
Caitlin, 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.
Caitlin Rose, you have a significant name. Caitlin is a Celtic name that means pure. Rose comes from the beautiful flower. We chose it as a shortened form of your grandmother Lena’s last name, Rosenquist. Caitlin Rose, mom and I pray that you will have a pure heart for God and that you will bring beauty into the world.
Andrew Neal, you also have a significant name. Andrew is a Greek name that means manly. Andrew was one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Neal is an Irish Gaelic name that means champion. Andrew, my prayer for you is that you will discover what it means to be a man of God and that you will be a champion who follows Jesus Christ.
My prayer for both of you is that you will put into practice the verses that were read earlier in Colossians 3:12-17. May the peace of Christ rule your lives. Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly. Let all you do be done in the name of Jesus. It is only when you center your lives on Jesus that you can fulfill the instructions in verses 12-13. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
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 Amanda’s age, 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 the same gift I gave Amanda and Phillip at their wedding. 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 your vocabulary, you commit to not allowing yourselves to become so divided that you think divorce is the answer.
When I was asked to give a toast to Caitlin and Andrew during the reception, I thought, “What can I say that hasn’t been said over the past 27 years?” Then I thought, “What blessing can I give them on their wedding day?”
I went for a walk this morning to think and pray about what to say. I passed the fruit trees on the road. I saw apple, apricot, and another one that I didn’t recognize. I was struck with one thought. It is the toast I want to give and the blessing I want to pass on to the two of you.
My toast is one phrase, “May you be fruitful.”
May you be fruitful in your character. May you develop and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit—the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—that comes as you center your life on Jesus Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. May you bear the fruit of righteousness.
May you be fruitful in your careers. May you discover your passion and find success in your field of endeavor.
May you be fruitful in your marriage and family. May you grow more in love with each other through each passing day. May God grant you children in his time and may you raise them to know and love Jesus.
May you be fruitful in your witness. May you live as salt and light in the world. May you create a hunger and a thirst in others to know Jesus because they see a difference in your lives. May others come to know him as savior and Lord because of your witness.
Caitlin and Andrew, may God bless you and cause you to be fruitful.
May God richly bless Andrew & Caitlin Gosnell!