Taking the Sacred Vows

The conclusion of an 8-part story of a young minister's wife.

ALL was hustle and bustle in, the little white house across the street. Merrilee and her mg mother and Aunt Anne were ji deep in wedding plans.

Only a few days left," sighed Merrilee. "I am afraid we'll never have everything ready."

"Oh, I think we will," comforted Aunt Anne. "The dresses are all finished and everybody knows what he is to do. After we've practiced in the church I think you will feel more calm. We have to get graduation out of the way before we can do much more. I think we should have the reception for your friends and Marc's relatives on Saturday night. Then Sunday morning is graduation, and we'll have time to get the last-minute details out of the way by Monday after­noon."

"Aunt Anne, you make it sound like nothing at all. Why, in between all you've said are countless hours of hard work."

"Yes, I know; but everything is going as we planned. If everyone does his part, it will go smoothly."

"Here comes Marc," Merrilee's mother an­nounced, looking out of the window.

"Yes, it's time," Merrilee said, rising. "Uncle Lan said he wanted to talk to us together before the ceremony, and the only time we could agree upon was now."

"Hello, everybody. Is Uncle Lan in his study?"

"Yes, Marc; he's waiting for us. Let's go right in."

"Good morning, Uncle Lan. Are we on time?"

"Right on time, Marc. Sit down over there, both of you. How's everything going?"

"Well," said Marc, "don't ask me how the wedding plans are going. I am not worrying about them at all. I let Merrilee and Aunt Anne take care of that. But I still have an exam to get out of the way this afternoon."

"I won't keep you long," promised Uncle Lan. "But I do like to have a little talk with the bride and groom before the wedding.

"Marriage today is something that is looked upon very casually, and most people do not take it seriously enough. If two people don't get along, they simply divorce and try again. Even some of our own Adventist young people take marriage too lightly. I know this is not so in your case. You have known each other a long time and have given it serious consideration.

"But even then there is danger. You will not always see eye to eye on everything. Each of you has a different personality; you have different ideas, and there are bound to be times when you will disagree. That is natural and presents no serious problem as long as you conduct your­selves properly. Each must remember that the other has a right to his opinion. Remember the golden rule. And whatever you do, do not take your troubles outside of your own home. Talking to others about your mate's faults and failings will not help. You may get sympathy, but you will not get respect. No one has any re­spect for one who talks behind the other's back.

"Two people who truly love each other will try to control their temper and will try in every way to avoid clashes. There is nothing more sad than a home where there is constant bicker­ing. Someday you will have a family, and it is not fair to children to rob them of a happy, peaceful home simply because one or the other may want his own way. If you have any differ­ences, keep your arguments private, where none can hear or feel the strain. Children love both their parents, and it is confusing to them to hear the two people they love the best arguing.

"I am taking for your sermon text these words: 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' You, Marc, are going into a wonder­ful profession. You will need to keep calm and have great quietness of soul in order to prepare the messages for your congregations that you want them to have. If your home is full of scolding and nagging, you cannot properly pre­pare yourself for the tasks you have to do each day.

"And that brings me to what I wanted to talk to you about. Be sure to build your Bethel. Never let a day pass that you do not have fam­ily worship together. If there are any hard feel­ings or ragged nerves, they will be soothed by the few minutes of quiet Bible reading and prayer together. Begin the day right in the morning and end it right at night. You will have to figure out your own way to do this.

"I was acquainted with a minister's family once who never had family worship. They felt that they were busy with religious activity all day and did not need it. Immediately upon rising, the father went to his study to prepare sermons, and the children had worship at school, so they did not deem it necessary at home. This was a great mistake. And I hope you will not get the idea that because you are engaged in the Lord's work you do not need this time of meditation and quiet. It is even more important for you than for others. You have the spiritual welfare of judgment-bound people in your care, and your life must be calm, steady, and above reproach. You must have the surety that all is right with you and your family every day.

"Let it always be said of your home, as Jacob said when he built his Bethel, 'This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' "

Marc and Merrilee and Uncle Lan knelt on the study floor. Uncle Lan prayed fervently for the young people he was so shortly to unite in holy matrimony. Merrilee's heart was very full, and she prayed silently, "Lord, help ours to be a happy home where the angels can dwell." Marc's face was serious as he rose from his knees. "Thank you, Uncle Lan. We'll try to re­member your wonderful advice, for we both want our marriage to be successful and our home a Christian one."

"Now," said Uncle Lan, "I want to talk a little about the ceremony. If you two are in agreement, I want to make it a bit different from the ordinary. I usually don't follow the book exactly in the reading of the ceremony. First I shall read the regular lines, but in the middle at an appropriate place I would like to insert a few words of my own, along the lines of what I have said to you today. Not only do I think it is good for you to hear it repeated be­fore you take your vows, but I think there are always some present who also may benefit from it."

"I think that will be nice, Uncle Lan," said Merrilee.

"I think so too," agreed Marc.

The afternoon sun streamed through the stained-glass windows of the college chapel and kissed Merrilee's blond curls peeping out from under the snug white cap and veil as she stood waiting on the arm of her father. The strains of the wedding music floated down from the balcony as she and her father stepped through the door and onto the white carpet leading to the altar where Marc and Uncle Lan were waiting.

As she neared the altar and prepared to take Marc's arm, she realized for the first time that she was trembling. Marc looked at her questioningly, then patted her hand and smiled re­assuringly.

Then they stood facing Uncle Lan while someone sang, "Now thank we all our God." Then Uncle Lan's dear voice was beginning: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to unite these two young people in the holy bonds of matrimony. . . ." She watched his face closely. There were lines there, but the little crinkles at the corners of his eyes reminded her that though his life had been hard at times and full of disappointments, there had also been happy times, and he had a smile for everyone, always. And now as he looked at her and Marc, his brown eyes were serious and full of mean­ing as he read their text—"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Then she was whispering "I do," and she no­ticed that Marc's voice was a bit husky as he re­peated it. As they knelt at the close of the prayer, children's voices softly sang "The Lord's Prayer."

Darkness had fallen. The last of the guests had left the garden, and Merrilee had gone to change her clothes. Soon she appeared in the garden wearing her blue suit and pink acces­sories.

Marc took her bag, and they all walked out to the car together. Merrilee took tearful leave of her parents and said good-by to Aunt Anne. "Thanks, Auntie, for all the good advice and help you've given me. 1 only hope I can remem­ber it when I need it, and be as good a shep­herdess as you are."

The young couple then went on their way, trusting God to lead and guide them in their service for Him.

The conclusion of an 8-part story of a young minister's wife.

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December 1960

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