Chapter 35 The Wedding
After praying about it, we chose April 28 for our wedding date. Barbara’s birthday was on the 28th of September, so that meshed nicely. And it was a Sunday. I didn’t want it on Saturday, because then we would have to close the tire shop and lose a whole day’s business.
We planned to invite lots of friends, many of them not Christians because we wanted to make the wedding a clear witness of God’s work in our lives and of the gospel. However, when we went to talk with the pastor about our plans, he was shocked.
“I plan how the ceremony will go, not you!” he said emphatically. Now we were shocked! This was our wedding, why shouldn’t we be able to plan it? We backed off, prayed about it, asked God for help, and when we talked again with the pastor, we were able to come to a good agreement.
Barbara’s father was unable to travel because of his depression, but her mother definitely wanted to be at the wedding. Being a professional seamstress, she also wanted to make Barbara’s wedding dress and would bring it with her.
This was right in line with my desires for a simple, inexpensive celebration; we planned for frugality, with the reception being held at His Mansion and the food and wedding cake being made by friends.
Instead of renting a tux, I wanted to buy a suit. This, however, proved to be grounds for our first disagreement. I was to find out that Barbara does not like to shop for clothes; her goal in shopping is to get something quickly and come home. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t fit well, or match what her other clothes.
In the first store we visited the salesman pushed me to buy a blue sharkskin suit. I looked like a mafia hit man in it! So I said, “No.” And Barbara cried. I was amazed. What could be wrong in looking for something I liked? In the end we found a nice dark green suit, and I wore it for years. I even still wear the tie occasionally nearly 40 some years later.
The day of the wedding dawned warm and clear. We all went to church, had lunch and got ready for the big event. I encouraged Barbara to put her wedding dress on at the church because I could just see my dog, Isaac, jumping up on her with his muddy paws as she came out of the house to get in the car.
It was a great idea; however, when Barbara got to the church, one of the guests was fixing herself up in the only ladies’ room there and wouldn’t come out! After a nerve-racking wait Barbara was finally able to get in and get herself ready for her wedding.
Meanwhile, I was up in the foyer, having a great time greeting all the guests. But then the pastor came and shooed me and my best man, my brother Sam, up into the little room behind the pulpit. And then the time had come: we stepped out and stood in front.
When the music played and Barbara came walking down the aisle, my heart sank. At the rehearsal the night before she had been all smiles; now she looked grim and unhappy. Had she changed her mind? Was something wrong?
She told me later that her mother had told her not to smile, that it was improper to be so happy as a bride! Strange but very German advice. However, Barbara only heeded it until she had made her way to the altar. When she got to the front and looked up at me, she couldn’t help but smile!
The wedding had roles for all our friends. The youth group sang; one fellow who had become a believer through the coffee house ministry composed a piece of music for trombone, trumpet and piano and Dad played the trumpet part. The kids from His Mansion sang, as did an African friend of Barbara’s.
Our good friends Dr. Ralph Goodell, Stan Farmer and Pastor Carpenter each gave us advice. Both Barbara and I gave our testimonies and the pastor, at our request, gave a very clear gospel message. It was a long and wonderful wedding!
At the end, the pastor had us turn and face the audience, saying, “I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Steve Wibberley!”
As we started down the aisle, Barbara pulled on my arm, and said, “Slow down!” This was the first of many times she would say that in our marriage. We operated at very different speeds and it would take much effort to bring us to a good partnership in that.
As my friend Pastor Carpenter said, it is often the weaknesses of our wives rather than their strengths that God uses to shape us more into the image of Christ. I was fast at everything. Barbara was slow, thorough, careful and didn’t have a lot of physical strength. This is what God used to move my eyes and heart off the goal of getting things done as quickly as possible and onto doing things for God’s glory instead. That meant doing them as quickly as was feasible, but more thoroughly, more carefully.
Picture: “Slow down!” Note the prophetic words behind us: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”