I was comfortably seated in the lounge of Prior Park, this prestigious mansion where we had gathered for the reception of a very special wedding. But I wondered why a friend was asking if I had been outside? I presumed he wanted me to be part of the taking of photos, but - I was not anxious to be included, even if I did have a new outfit. But once I had stepped outside, I understood. To think I might have missed this magnificent view! As I gazed in awe as the spectacular scene I was reminded of the final book, and indeed final chapter of the Narnia stories.
‘It’s further on!’ This was the cry they heard as having come through the stable door of death, they were urged to run, gallop or fly ever onward, ever upward. Finally they came to realise that this was heaven itself.
For our newly-weds it may have felt like heaven as they stepped outside, but they had not needed to be urged to go further on. As I gazed in awe at the glorious scene of the valley which fell away before us into glorious vistas, I saw that far in the distance, central to the picture, they were already there, with the photographer, of course, to make sure the scene was one never to be forgotten.
What a wonderful day; such a homely, yet awesome service, with friends and family making it a time of joyous celebration, and the newly-weds dancing out of the church together into newness of life. And now enjoying such a wonderful time of fellowship and feasting too in this grand mansion, with old friendships renewed and new ones forged. But we may be assured that neither bride nor groom will have to look back on it as the best day of their lives. I am sure they will remember it as God’s very special gift to them; their entrance into a life of joyful service, but always knowing that God has more, and hearing the call, that it is ‘further on and further up.’
And as I stood there, on the balcony, I knew that God was challenging me to remember we have none of us as yet arrived. There are more mountains to claim, more challenges and difficulties which he wants to turn to a testimony, more weaknesses to be turned into strengths, and above all the promise;- ‘You have shown us the path of life. You will make us full of joy in your presence.’
May God bless our newly-weds as they have stepped into abundant life together and as they, with us, answer the cry, ‘Further on and further up.’