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Hope Deferred

This Saturday I’ll have the honor of standing next to one of my dearest friends as she says, “I do” to the man of her dreams.  Weddings are often celebratory and joyful, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to contain my exuberance as this beautiful woman walks down the aisle to be joined to her groom.  You see she stood by me when I was married at the age of 25. She’s also been a bridesmaid 10 times and served as a greeter or a Scripture reader in countless other weddings.  She’s spent most of her career serving in college ministry, so the overwhelming majority of the brides with which she stood were younger than her.  But this weekend is Brandi’s weekend.  She’s 36 years old and her long-awaited day has finally arrived.

Thinking about the journey to her wedding day has made me think about Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” in which he poses the question, “What happens to a dream deferred?”  He ponders if it dries up like a raisin in the sun…or festers like a sore…or stinks like rotten meat.  Essentially Hughes states that an unfulfilled dream brings varying levels of frustration and pain.  The Scriptures affirm such a view.  Proverbs 13:12 explains, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.”

Brandi and I have had regular conversations over the last decade about her longing to be married and the struggle of waiting, wondering, and hoping if it would ever happen.  Through tears we’ve talked much about contentment and the goodness of God and the satisfaction that can only be found in Him.  She’s certainly had hope deferred, but she’s never had her hope dashed…because she’s never hoped in a husband.  The object of Brandi’s hope hasn’t been the affection of a man but rather the person of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3 tells us that through the resurrection of Christ God has caused us to be born again to a living hope.  Hope in a heavenly inheritance that will never spoil or fade.  Hope that there is life beyond the grave, that victory over sin and death will be fully realized when this old life is over.  This is the hope that anchors our souls in seasons of waiting and longing and deferred dreams.

Brandi’s single years weren’t spent whining and complaining and chiding after a blessing she didn’t have.  Rather, she was radically others-focused, giving her life away in ministry to younger women.  She’s invested herself in relationships and shared the gospel in a million ways.  She’s trained more women than I can count how to foster their walk with God and cast vision dozens and dozens of times for their lives having eternal impact.  Brandi’s life has shown Jesus as supremely valuable.  In short, she’s mightily leveraged her availability in singleness.  She had such a deep sense of purpose that fueled her contentment.

The second half of Proverbs 13:12 reads, “…but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  This weekend, a deep and God-given longing of Brandi’s will be fulfilled.  I have no doubt that Brandi and Jay’s wedding day and all the days of their life together will nourish many.

Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is the wife of a pastor, mom of two busy little ones, and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. She is passionate about communicating the truths of Scripture to women and magnifying Jesus as the All-Satisfying Treasure and Almighty Redeemer. She has lived in North Carolina for most of her life and loves making the most of the sidewalks and parks in her 1940s neighborhood. Ashlee enjoys healthy eating and exercising, but finds it nearly impossible to resist homemade cookies!

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