Chris and Woodsy

I have neglected this blog for too long, and I apologise for that. The neglect has come about for a variety of reasons - primary among which has been the feeling that I had nothing worth saying - or that, when I did, I didn't seem to be able to get beyond the initial idea or the first few sentences of the 'story'. Here though, is a tale of God's love and grace, which deserves a bit of 'air-time'. And I need to write about it, to get some of it 'out of my system'.

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Chris is a very dear friend, and has been for a very long time - right back to when she was a fairly junior doctor, working all hours at the RLI before she married her first husband. We have a lot of history, Chris, Linda and I. She was there at the still-birth of Charlie, our firstborn; and was a terrific source of God's strength, wisdom and love during those very dark times. I remember too, that she was really sorry that she got pregnant with her eldest, Anna, before Linda became pregnant with Tim - she so wanted us to have a child first. Linda and I feel as though we have journeyed together through life alongside Chris and the girls. Life has never been easy for Chris - for many years she always seemed to have been in the midst of some sort of disaster or problem. But she is full of God's grace and love, and emerged from each battle bruised and hurting, but never bitter and with her love for God and those around her evident. Even when things were at their toughest, she was still looking for ways to help and bless others.

Woodsy - or Steve if we're being formal - hasn't always had an easy life either. I haven't known him as long - only a few years - but I am pleased to count him amongst my friends, and privileged to have him as a dear brother in Christ. I think our teenage years were probably similar - in fact I think we may even have been to some of the same gigs (or at least gigs on the same tours), though we didn't know it at the time. God found me long before he found Woodsy though, and 'lifted me out of the miry clay' as the words of the old chorus so eloquently put it, long before him. To see Woodsy become a Christian, and then to grow in knowledge and love of God has been wonderful.

A fair few of us had been praying for a good husband for Chris for many years; after his divorce, I'd begun to pray for someone to bring joy into Woodsy's life again. Oddly, just before they told us they were seeing each other, I'd found myself praying for both of them at the same time… And then wondering whether they were actually meant for each other - was the answer to my prayers staring me in the face? Was that some sort of vision of things to come? Who knows - I can't take the credit, and I won't take the blame! I certainly didn't share the thought with them until much later. Anyway, they were so obviously suited to each other that the announcement of their engagement was hardly a surprise - though it did give rise to the loudest cheers I think I've ever heard in our church.

So, cutting a long story short, the wedding took place last Saturday (21/6/2014). I've been to a few weddings, but never one like that. It was, by a country mile, the best, most moving, wedding ever. I've never cried at a wedding before - I rarely cry at all, let alone on happy occasions. But somehow, it seemed right - as much as anything, I think they were tears of relief that the years of pain and anguish were finally over. A real fairy-tale celebration of two lives joined together at last; two rocky paths which have joined now to form a highway:

And a highway will be there;

it will be called the Way of Holiness;

 it will be for those who walk on that Way.

The unclean will not journey on it;

 wicked fools will not go about on it.

No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;

they will not be found there.

But only the redeemed will walk there,

and those the Lord has rescued will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35:8-10 (NIV)

It was a marvellous celebration of God's love, and of His timing. I hope their story encourages others in dark places - that God can make things right again, however bad things may seem. However dreadful things may seem, I firmly believe that God has a plan. His timing is different to ours, and sometimes we have to be very patient but, as he said to the Israelites through the prophet Jeremiah when they were in exile in Babylon:

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity." Jeremiah 29:10-14 (NIV)

The photograph above could be said to be what photographers call 'high key' - but really it was just over-exposed. However, in a 'happy accident', it conveys the feel I wanted - that of being bathed in God's marvellous light:

Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11 (NIV)

As I type this, they're away on honeymoon. My prayer for them is that the path they're beginning to travel together would be smooth and a source of great joy for them, their daughters, and those they love and who love them.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2021