The wedding was the stuff of fairy tales and Ginger Jones was the beautiful princess. She stood at the back of the chapel with a determined expression on her elegant face, one hand on her father’s arm, and the other clutching a huge bouquet of tiny roses and ribbons.
“Dad,” she cooed softly, “You look so handsome in your tuxedo.”
Camden Jones gazed at the vision of loveliness swathed in white satin and pearls. It seemed like only yesterday she was stomping her little foot and demanding her way. He expected great things out of her choice in a husband.
The processional progressed to the place of the bride’s grand entrance. All the guests stood and turned, as if rehearsed. The music swelled in anticipation of the event. Someone straightened the impressive train on Ginger’s obscenely expensive dress, and the long walk began.
“Left, right, left right,” her father whispered to get them started.
The nervous groom stood at attention like an obedient soldier awaiting orders, yet hardly breathing. It seemed so long since Joe had proposed to Ginger. Planning a wedding was big business and had taken a whole year. He was rarely consulted about any of the details. Most of his pals had jokingly insisted he only had one job: to show up and look wedding-correct.
His eyes scanned the crowd for one brief and fuzzy moment. He almost blurted, “Who ARE all these people?”
The place seemed stuffy; in fact, suffocating. He had to concentrate on not fainting. Ginger would never forgive him for that. He took several deep breaths and shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
Oh Lord, please give me strength to stay on track here. I can’t do this by myself.
The six bridesmaids were carbon copies of each other -- from the cliché dresses, to the dyed shoes, to the baby’s breath stuck in upswept hair. He wasn’t even sure he knew all of their names. His best man was his older brother. The other men were escorts for the females – boyfriends or husbands he supposed. He shuddered.
A still small voice was picking a strange time to keep nagging. Sure she looks terrific, but buddy, this is NO fairytale and you are most certainly NOT the prince. She grew up rich. You want to be a missionary. She wants you to go into business with her father.
Joe shook his head but the voice seemed to shout to the very depths of his being. What are you DOING, man?
The compromised groom was not aware of slumping to the floor, nor the gasp from several hundred fancy strangers seated mostly on the “bride’s side” of the aisle, nor the hysterical wails of his intended as her thin facade cracked to expose a venomous anger that accused his unconscious body of messing up her wedding.
He awoke in a dim room shrouded in unfamiliar beeps and clicks and flavored with antiseptic odors. For a few seconds, he could not figure out why he would be in a hospital. He wasn’t sure if he was still single. His parents were sitting in two chairs pulled close together, holding hands and praying. His stirring alerted them to a change and they both jumped at the same time. His mother’s tear stained face swam into view.
“Son, we’re right here. The doctor says you had some kind of glycemic crisis but a few days of medication and fluids and you’ll be as good as new.”
The pale young man managed a weak smile. “I expect my dramatic exit stopped the big to-do, huh?”
His father, a good man with wisdom and discernment, could not suppress his wit in the face of this resolution to what he knew was an uneven yoking.
“Joe, my boy,” he chuckled, “ No one expected you to keel over. No one expected Miss Ginger to reveal her true personality. No one expected this was a marriage made in heaven; but, I can tell you this: after much intercession and faith, my GREAT expectation has been realized.”
The almost-groom noticed his still ring-less finger and knew exactly what his father meant, especially the next morning when he awoke to find a letter from the Missions Board in reply to his inquiry.
The invitation to apply ended with, “ We have prayed for God to send us the right workers. We have great expectations you will be one.”
Joe sighed contentedly; or maybe it was that still small voice exhaling.
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