This morning I had the privilege and honor of attending the Baby Dedication of Bree Smith. I love baby dedications, but it is always a more special event when you are personally involved in the lives of the family. Recently, in a hair emergency, Alex, the father, made a midnight run to Wal-Mart for hair dye for me and Leah, the mother, skillfully applied it. The way to a man's heart may be food, but the way to a woman's heart? Make her look good. Those two worked their way to top of my list when they sacrificed sleep to repair my hair. (You know it's a bad hair do when a MAN feels compelled to get involved in fixing it.) So needlesss to say, I have some history with these two, that blossomed out of a close friendship with Leah's mom Heidi.
As the ceremony began, I watched Leah, Bree's mommy, who it seemed like only yesterday was a young teenager desperate to be allowed in the youth group, confidently carry her daughter to the alter to be dedicated to God. She was the ONLY teenager my husband and I have ever trusted to watch our three children. Our only regret is that we didn't start using her sooner. Leah has that rare quality of fun that is tempered with responsibility. She has the gift of being able to get on a child's level with creative imaginative play while never losing her authority as the adult. She was a skilled babysitter, but that was just how God allowed her to use her gifts until it was time for her true calling- Motherhood. I always knew this was Leah's destiny, but watching it unfold has been a precious journey. She approached the Pastor, no longer a little girl, but a woman on a mission, unwavering at the task before her, uneffected by the mass of people behind her.
And then came the second half of this parenting team. Daddy Alex followed, taking his place. As he stood opposite Leah, facing her as the Pastor read the responsibilities of a parent, it was so obvious the speech was a needless part of the ceremony. These two knew their responsibilities long before they entered the sanctuary that morning. They knew long before they said, "I Do." But the value of the ceremony was not in what was heard, but what I saw.
I watched Alex's face transfixed by what I saw. It was the one moment that will forever define him in my eyes. He will never fall or excel beyond what I saw in him this morning. If Leah or Bree were ever to come to me voicing their displeasure in their husband or daddy, I will remember this moment, take a deep breath, and valiantly defend this man. I saw his heart.
I watched Alex's face as he found himself in a dilemma. His heart of so full, his eyes couldn't keep up with his emotions. He would look at Bree, his eyes tender, as if to say, "Wow, that's my daughter." But then his eyes would quickly travel upward locking eyes with Leah, and his eyes would radiate as if to say in awe, "Wow. She's my wife." Then he would look back at Bree, as if to say, "She's beautiful". Quickly, his eyes found Leah's face, again, as if to say, "Of course, she's pretty. Look at her mama." His eyes darted back and forth, as if his eyes lingering on one of his girls too long, made him miss his other girl. It was clearly not just Bree's day. Alex was as proud of his wife as he was his daughter. Leah was not replaced by this tiny new little female who joined their still new nest. She had been elevated to a new level in Alex's heart reserved only for the love of his life, the most priceless of his treasures.
And then came yet another moment that brought the tears streaming down my cheeks. As the Pastor asked them to face him so they could take their vows, Alex placed his arm around Leah and gently placed his hand at the small of her back. I know, you're thinking, "You Sap! What is the big deal!" Well, here's the big deal. That small gesture spoke volumes. I have been to MANY baby dedications and if you review the tapes, you will find very few where there is any physical contact between the parents. Usually one parent holds the baby. The other parent stands by in case the baby gets fussy and needs to change parents. This was different. Alex wasn't concerned about the congregation knowing he meant what he said. He wasn't worried about the Pastor believing he meant his vows. Before God, his gesture spoke louder than his words. Alex was saying, "We will do it, God. We will do it together, Leah. I will be here for both of you through every step. " He made his vows this morning not just to Bree before God. Alex renewed his vows to Leah before God.
Bree may have her daddy wrapped around her little finger, but the ring on Alex's hand that glistened against the fabric of Leah's shirt as he held her close, declared his life was wrapped around another beautiful woman's life first and foremost- his wife Leah. Bree was tenderly knit together in her mother's womb by God, but that fabric is only made stronger by her two parents who have allowed God to knit them together as one first.
If you're reading this, and you're thinking, "How Sweet", or "I wish I could have someone look at me that way,", I want you to know, you do. You are the Apple of God's Eye. The love I saw in Alex's eyes this morning was boundless by man's standards. Yet it was limited by Heaven's standard because he is still a mortal man unable to love anyone as much as God does. If you could catch one glimpse of the Father's eyes as He looks at you, you would forever be unsatisfied with only the love any mortal could give. Your heavenly Father loves you, adores you, and desires you. His vows of dedication to you are written in His Word. His love for you cannot be wrapped around your little finger....His love is measured by the hands of His son as they stretched from East to West as His love for you was wrapped around a cross.
I think I would have been stunned this morning had Leah pulled away from Alex's embrace, or refused to look at him, especially after I had seen the love on his face for her. If you are not saved, everyday you are shrugging off the arms of God that only want to embrace you. You are turning your back on the one whose back was scarred for you as he was whipped beyond recognition. And through every shrug, act of defiance, rebellion, and rejection, His unfailing and unfaltering love for you has not changed. And on the day you accept Him as Savior, you are born again. You become an infant in the arms of Jesus and He presents you to the Father. You begin again, a clean slate, a fresh start with a Father who beams and proclaims to all of Heaven, "This is MY child in whom I am well pleased." Alex was a wonderful picture of Christ this morning.
Maybe you were there, and you're thinking. "I didn't see all that." Yeah, well, you didn't have my seat. And I might add if you choose to criticize this couple from your seat, as we sometimes do out of ignorance or a false security in our own knowledge, on their decisions, or parenting choices, and try to shake the confidance they have in God and one another right now, you might find God telling you, "Hush..You don't have MY seat. From here, I am well pleased in what I see in my son and daughter." And if I were to discover anyone discouraging, judging, or hindering this little family in their pursuit of building a godly home, I just might have to eject you from your seat, and I can't promise you'll see any love in my eyes when I do it.
I had the best seat in the house this morning, and it didn't cost me anything, but what I saw was priceless.