open bible

40 Days of Prayer: Day 22

Recently my family and I went to a wedding. The bride and groom had a Bible with wide blank margins opened as you walked into the covered pavilion for the reception. A chalkboard sign read something like: “Please highlight your favorite verse and sign your name beside it for the happy couple…” My first thought was, “Wow! What an amazing idea.” My second thought was, “Wow! Do I have a favorite Bible verse?” I felt so much pressure—especially since I pastor a church—to pick an appropriate verse. What wisdom dripping nugget would I bestow upon the happy couple whom, I was convinced, would assiduously devour the yellow-marked pages of this divine text on their wedding night? 

The people in front of us must have felt the same pressure because they took an excessive amount of time flipping and reflipping the pages. I wanted to scream, “Read it on your own time!” But I was secretly pleased with the extra moments of preparation. As I paced, palms sweating my mind flipped through the holy scriptures. My memorized Bible is not nearly as large as the real one and considerably less accurate, but I finally settled on a verse.

Then it hit me like a cold bucket of water on a cold day. What if someone else had already chosen my verse? You can’t re-highlight something that has been highlighted. It wouldn’t dry quickly enough and the other pages would have yellow smudges. It would look like Gru’s minions had made a slip-n-slide out of it which doesn’t exactly say HAPPY WEDDING! I didn’t want to be responsible for ruining their big day and the Holy Bible! If I got up there and my verse was taken then I would look like a fool and have to scramble for a new verse! It was then that I decided that John 3:16 would probably be taken. The safer bet would be to find a more obscure verse.

It is impossible to exagerate the feeling of helplessness that overwhelmed me in that moment. Being the noble gentleman that I am, I considered that my wife, Jennifer, must have been suffering as well. So, I politely inquired, “what verse are you gonna pick?” with the hopes of encouraging her by admitting my own lack of verse. She smiled confidently and said, “I’m not gonna tell you.” I knew then that I was alone in my struggle. That brief exchange led me to consider John 11:35, “Jesus wept,” because that’s what I felt like doing, but I figured the happy couple may misconstrue the meaning.

Then it happened. As the couple in front of us finished reading the entire Bible and moved on to the hors d’oeuvres, it came to me. I politely stepped in front of my confident wife to get to the opened pages waiting for my majestic stroke of yellow and inked seal of approval. Slowing my breath as I flipped each page I willed my verse to be free of distinguishing marks. Time itself slowed as the final page fell, and there before me, patiently awaiting my attention, rested the words of wisdom worthy of the occasion. If the young couple would live out those words, especially toward each other, I had no doubt that their’s would be a long and happy relationship. 

So, what were the words that could make relationships stronger and marriages happier? “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). 

When we focus on the excellent and praisworthy in others their negatives will begin to grow smaller in our eyes. It’s time to get our heads right and “think about such things” only.

Thank you for reading. Now, please go to our Prayer Wall and pray for the needs there, and add what you are believing God  for. 

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