I'll never forget the feeling that I felt standing in the narrow hallway of the Oregon City Church of the Nazarene on the day of my wedding. I was there watching through the window of the side door with my Pastor, Gary Gleason, and his son and my Best Man, Stan, as the music started and the parents were seated. Before I had an extra second to get prepared, Pastor--in his Gleason-like manner--said, "Let's go!" and led us through the door.
The thoughts in my head were racing as I watched Pastor Gleason pass mine and Stan's appointed place at the foot of the steps. He ascended to the platform, where he would soon address the crowd. Stan and I remained stock still, waiting for our cue, and trying to act natural. The anxiety grew and questions began to fill my mind. "Am I ready for this?" "Do I really have what it takes to make this work?" "I don't have much more time. I wonder..."
Mid-thought, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Kara, made it to the front of the aisle. As tradition goes, my Best Man left my side to escort her, the Matron of Honor, up the steps and onto the platform. As I watched my last bit of moral support disappear behind me, my nerves hit an all-time high. Was I ready for this? I tried--and failed--to look like I was in control.
Then, as I looked down the aisle and through the back doors of the sanctuary, anxiety gave way to anticipation. All that I was worried about disappeared into all that I had been waiting for. Just within sight, at the far end of the room stood my ivory-decked bride. What had I been so worried about? All the stress, work, dreaming, planning, living was put into focus as I became fixed on the true object.
I think that maybe that is just how it felt on that dark night, two thousand years ago. All of the grief, the agony, and the despair was resting on Jesus' shoulders. The fulfillment of the plan was depending on Him, and yet we can see His opposing emotions as He cried, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39)
Somewhere in the middle of all the anxiety and dread, Christ looked through the portals of time and saw the true object: you. As His focus changed, He became something more than just another great man in the pages of a history book. The apostle Paul would describe it like this: "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross." We were that joy.
And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior's blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
- Charles Wesley