The Best Wedding Gift of All

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June is a big month in my life.

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Not just because I married my best friend on June 18, 1994 — a gift for which I am profoundly grateful.  By God’s grace and kindness, after 23 years, Steve and I are still together, and going strong.  Praise God.

But there’s also another anniversary for me to celebrate every June.

I’m talking now about the day I received a wedding gift from the Lord Himself!   Yes, directly from the Lord.

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On June 14, 1994 — just four days before my wedding — He delivered it to me. Miraculously. download (1) And now, in this, my double-anniversary month of June, I’ve just got to tell the story.

Here’s what happened…from the beginning.

In 1993, when my mother died, my dad was devastated.  Daddy and Mummy had built a life together over the course of 45 years, and now that my mother was gone…so was a part of Daddy.

After my mother’s death, when I would invite Daddy over for dinner at my little condo, he would leave at the end of the evening, saying, “I’m going home to be with your mother.”

Of course Mummy wasn’t back there at the house then anymore than she is now.  But somehow, Daddy found a certain solace and comfort sitting quietly inside the cozy kitchen where he and Mummy had whiled away so many evenings together across the years.

In point of fact, I knew my mother was safely and gloriously ensconced in the loving arms of Jesus…as I had had the honor and privilege of leading her to Christ just 13 months before her death.

After my mother died, I would ask Daddy if he wanted to “pray with me the same prayer Mummy did to receive Christ.”

The first time I asked him, he answered simply and bluntly, “No.”

The second time I asked Daddy, he kicked me to the curb with, “My mother taught me how to pray when I was three years old.”

Ok.  Well, clearly Daddy was put off by the notion that he might somehow need any kind of “help” in any kind of way to come to a saving relationship with Christ.  However, from where I sat, it was all too plain to see:

Whereas Daddy may have gotten an “A” in *religion,* he was failing miserably in the relationship-with-Christ department.  And what else is salvation than a relationship with the living Christ?

As the Gospel of John says:

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  ~ John 17:3 NKJV

Daddy was still living as ruler of his own life, and had never surrendered his life to Christ.  And I have often told the Lord that if I only had one prayer in life that could be answered it would be to see every member of my family saved.

Thus, in 1994, when Steve and I were engaged to be married in June of that year, I began to pray this prayer:

“Lord, there is only one wedding present I want.  I couldn’t care less about anything else.  There’s only one gift I’m desperate for.  Before I get married, I want to see Daddy come to Christ.  O Lord, please turn Daddy’s heart to You.”

I knew that in Daddy’s abject grief my approaching marriage actually felt to his heart like a kind of second loss…as he contemplated giving me away.

Yet I knew, too, that no matter how overcome with grief Daddy was, I certainly couldn’t be some kind of Christ-substitute for him.  Sure, I may be an encourager in my family, a nurturer, and so I’m accustomed to being leaned upon, or looked upon for a cheerful word.   I can deal with that.

But a substitute for Christ?  No.  Not gonna happen. I wouldn’t allow it, no matter how desperate my Dad’s state of mind and emotions were, I wouldn’t allow him to believe he could rely on me to be his answer to all his emotional needs —  only Christ is Christ, and Daddy was going to have to come to terms with it.

But true as this was… as his daughter, it just killed me to watched my beloved Dad wrestle against the only One Who could truly save him.

And so as the months ticked by, I kept on praying for his salvation…earnestly… desperately.

I began to take favorite old hymns I grew up with, and insert Daddy’s name in the hymn as I sang them, as a kind of prayer:

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“God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year…

“God is working His purpose out, and the time is drawing near…

“Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be…

“When [Dick Condit] shall be filled with the glory of God…as the waters cover the sea.”

I sang.  I prayed.  I wept.

And Steve joined me in the prayer too:  “Lord save Dick before our wedding day!  This is our prayer!”

As the actual week of our wedding approached, the countdown intensified…and the already urgent prayer now became like a red flare before the throne of God:

“O God, O Lord God – Daddy’s LOST!  He NEEDS You!  Your Word says that the heart of the king is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord, and You can turn it whichever direction You will.  Turn Daddy’s heart to YOU, O God!  O God, do it!  Do it NOW, Lord! I ask this as my wedding gift, Lord…the only one I care about.  Please dear Lord, please bring Daddy to You before I get married this Saturday!  I ask it in the Name of Jesus!”

Seven days before the wedding came and went…six days before the wedding came and went…five days…

”Oh God, oh GOD!  Save Daddy!

Then suddenly!

On Tuesday, June 14th, 1994 — four days before my wedding — I was out doing errands. Tying up loose ends before the Big Day…when suddenly I felt a nudge inside my heart.  A distinct nudge that was unmistakable.

And I heard in my heart:

Go home!  Go home now to your father’s house.  He’s ready.  Go right now.”

Immediately I dropped everything.  Left the mall, hopped in my car, and drove straight to my childhood home, just hoping and praying I was “hearing right.”  Hoping and praying this really and truly was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and not just my own wishful thinking I had fabricated inside my head and heart.

As I drove up Daddy’s driveway, he appeared, ambling slowly down the front slate walk to greet me, his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his khaki pants.  He looked beaten down and completely weary.  I greeted Daddy as he came toward me.

Then I jumped out of my car, and cut right to the chase.

“Daddy,” I said, “I came here because I feel like the Lord told me to come over right now.  I’ve been asking you over and over if you would pray with me to receive Christ, but you were never ready.  But I’m going to ask you one more time. 

 “Are you ready to pray the very same prayer Mummy prayed with me last year, and to receive Christ into your heart?”

Daddy – this time — said, “Yes.”  He said YES!!!

 images (20)I nearly jumped for joy.  I shouted, and said, “You are ready?  Oh Daddy, I’m so excited!  I was out shopping, and the Lord told me to come over right now to pray with you, and I dropped everything to get here!”

We entered the house, and stepped out into the sun porch, sat down, and the Lord allowed me to lead Daddy in the prayer of salvation.  And then, because I wanted to make certain Daddy’s commitment was truly legitimate, I asked him point blank:

“Daddy, I’ve asked you twice before to pray with me, and you never would. What was different about this time?”

Daddy had tears in his eyes as he looked up from our prayer, and he responded simply, “Because I don’t have anywhere else to turn.”

Surrender!

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Daddy knew that in just four days his “baby girl” would be getting married, amplifying his sense of loss as he “gave me away” to Steve.  The Lord used this sense of loss to bring Daddy to his knees.

I will never forget the day my Dad finally humbled himself to receive Christ into his heart.

Tuesday evening,  June 14th 1994…just four days before my wedding.  My dad went from death — to eternal life.

The best wedding gift of all.

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4 thoughts on “The Best Wedding Gift of All

  1. This story is wonderful! I loved reading it and learning how the Lord drew your dad to receive Him. There’s nothing more miraculous than a person’s salvation. Your experience in listening to the Lord is so special and personal. One day your mom and dad will greet you at the pearly gates because you knew how to hear God’s voice. I’m glad you’re my friend.

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    1. Oh, Carolyn, thank you so much. Salvation IS such a miracle and the only one, in the end, that really matters, right? This life is passing away. As Paul said: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18) Whenever I think of that verse, I’m reminded all over again how we just have NO CLUE how glorious heaven is! If we did, we might not take so many supplements so we can stick around here longer, haha. (Just kidding, of course) THANK you for your precious feedback. You know I praise God for your friendship.

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