Each time I perform a wedding ceremony, I give the bride and groom a complimentary copy of my first book, The Last Wedding. It’s a small way of saying thanks for allowing me to be a part of their big day. I also hope they will read it someday and that, maybe, it will touch their lives in a positive way. If nothing else, they can set it on their shelf and point to it as a conversation piece—“We know this guy. He did our wedding. See, he signed our copy of his book.” I don’t know how often any of that has ever happened, but one can hope.
I DO know of one bride who read it for sure. In these days of professional wedding planners, the preacher often doesn’t have to go to the rehearsal. Back in the day, we were in charge of everything that had to do with the ceremony. These days, we just show up, and the wedding planner tells us where to stand. Recently, however, I was asked to participate in a rehearsal. Rather than wait until the wedding day, I presented the happy couple with my book a day early.
She Was Yawning
The next day, I happened to notice that the bride (even as radiant as she was) was yawning. When I teased her about it, she confirmed that she was “dead tired.” When I playfully chided her for not getting enough rest, she said, “I was up half the night reading your book!”
I kiddingly said to her, “Shame on you!” Deep inside, of course, I was quite pleased and gratified that she would take the time on the eve of one of the biggest days of her life to give heed to a few words I had penned. I hope anything she gleaned from those pages made up for her loss of sleep.
The point of all this is the fact that we seldom ever know how our lives have (or will) affect other people. We plod through our days doing the best we can. We try to enjoy life, but also attempt to be a positive influence on others. Sometimes we think we’re accomplishing something. Other times, we’re not so sure.
Don’t Get Too Discouraged
It’s easy to get discouraged. Discouragement has nearly overwhelmed me at times in my life, so I know it’s true. It’s one thing to have a worshipper pat me on the back after a service to say, “Great sermon, Preacher!” It’s another to know I’ve actually touched a soul in an affirmative way—enough to make a difference. I get paid to preach. Actually touching someone in a deep and lasting way is another story—one for which we don’t receive a monetary reward.
Still, our reward is there. Jesus spoke a lot about rewards. In Mark 9:41, he told us that those who belong to him will “not lose their reward.” If we won’t lose it, I guess that means we have one to lose. Thanks be to God!
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]