Stormy beginnings

calm-before-storm-1We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in 2014.  Married life began in a storm, and what a storm.  It was a one in 20 year weather event, apparently.  It had gone on for a week and shown no signs of abating.

The month of February is full on summer in NZ and we thought the weather would be good for our wedding.  Wrong!

I think it was because we had a big  evangelistic crusade in New Zealand at the time, and it had gone to Wellington, our capital which was only two hours away.  The campaign, Impact World Tour was brilliant because all the churches of different denominations came together and worked as one to reach people for the Lord.  We were all involved in different ways.

The devil didn’t like it and tried to rain out all the venues.  It was a spiritual battle.  The only problem was our wedding was being affected by the weather too.  I should have thought about it more when we chose the date.

Everyone asked us what plan B was for the weather.  There was no plan B.  My fiancee decided to go ahead with having the ceremony in the garden.  It had a strange calm about it, even though the wind blew through the trees around this place named Homestead Garden.

There is a scripture in Isaiah 25:4 that describes God as being a refuge in the storm. 

Homestead Garden b&w

Homestead garden

When we got married we invited God to the wedding, which went off without a hitch in an island of calm, with radiant sunshine.  Our guests  got sunburnt.  All the other outdoor weddings that day got rained out and blown out.  People were amazed that the storm didn’t touch us.  I’ve never known such favour.

As we were saying our vows, two Monarch butterflies fluttered their way across the lawn in front of us.  It was a beautiful sign to be given.  The butterfly has turned up at different places in the story.

You’ll see the butterfly emerge in Chapter 5 of my book ‘The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.’.  It flutters into the story again in Chapter 8, ‘Shelter in the Storm.’  This time, it’s not alone.

Here are a few photos of our wedding in the storm.

Windy wedding 2 Our wedding at Homestead Garden 3 resized Windy wedding 1

 

 

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Seven circles

ChuppahEven though the Church was born in Jerusalem, it is separated from Israel – to our loss.  In these troubled and interesting times Messianic Jews (Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah) are bringing back a cultural context to the Bible that was lost to the Church for over a millennia.

For instance, one night the couple who led my home-group decided to present the teaching of a Messianic Jew on the meaning and symbolism of a Jewish wedding ceremony.  This was for general application, to show parallels between a Jewish wedding and the Church’s relationship to Christ, outlined here:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jewish-wedding-traditions.html

The teaching had ties to Jeremiah 31:21, where I had been given a word from Jeremiah about going full circle.  For me it was a Rhema word, that is a word for personal application.  It filled in a lot of blanks for me, as well as confirming the rhema word.

The confirmation on this occasion really amused me, because it was so Jewish. Even though Jesus belongs to us all, it reminded me that He is a Jew.  Jesus talked about the Bridegroom in some of His parables.

Chuppah 1In Jewish wedding tradition, the bride may circle the groom 3 or 7 times under the Chuppah.  This is generally an Ashkenazi practice.  The Ashkenazi Jew comes from Europe.

The Chuppah is a canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during their wedding ceremony.  It consists of a cloth or sheet stretched or supported over four poles.  A traditional chuppah recommends that there be open sky exactly above the chuppah.  So the Ashkenazi custom is to have the Chuppah ceremony outside under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be “as the stars of the heavens” (Genesis 15:5).

Why does the bride circle the groom?

I love this explanation;

The bride, by circling the groom, expresses her awesome power over him.

The seven circuits are reminiscent of the biblical story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. They came to Jericho, a city known as the key to the land – if they could conquer it, the land would be theirs. But Jericho was protected by a big wall. There seemed to be no way in.

Similarly, every man has a wall built around his heart. Men are taught to hide their feelings, to create an impression of impenetrability, to make it seem that they have it all figured out. Men create elaborate defenses to hide any sign of weakness or vulnerability, and fiercely guard their deepest secret – that inside they are sensitive and meek, simple and soft.

But a wise woman can pierce this defensive wall. If she surrounds her husband with the protective aura of her love, if she envelops him with affection, and if she makes him feel that he is the anchor, the center, the focal point of her life, then he can feel safe and comfortable. When that happens, the walls protecting his heart come tumbling down. Then she has conquered him – all of him.

Source: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/586014/jewish/A-Mans-Deepest-Secret.htm

In the next chapter of The Kingdom I had met the man the Lord had promised me, after going around him in a big circle.  This was the third time our paths had crossed.  The trouble was, he didn’t exactly welcome me into his life.  There was a big wall around his heart.  I found him cold and stand-offish, and didn’t know if I liked him all that much.  It wasn’t an auspicious start for us.