As someone with a licence to marry within the Province of Ontario, you might imagine that I have been to a few weddings in my day – and that would be true. Comparatively rare, however, is the treat my wife and I receive when we get to attend a wedding simply as guests. We had that pleasure back in June when we attended a wedding for the firstborn daughter of some cherished friends.
While no two weddings or wedding receptions are alike, it’s not hard to admit that some are better than others. The one we attended in June was among the best we’ve ever been to. The excellent company aside, what set this one apart was principally the quality of the speeches.
Now, I never met a microphone I didn’t like, so I tend to be pretty critical of anybody who engages in public address. Often, speeches at weddings are almost interminable, sometimes sappy, and periodically offered under the influence of a controlled substance. So I tend to get excited about speeches that do not touch on these characteristics.
At the wedding reception of which I spoke earlier, my friend, the father of the bride, gave a speech which was among the most moving I have ever heard from a Daddy to his Girl. It was emotional, without succumbing to the “Butterfly Kisses” garden-variety of father-daughter discourse. It was heartfelt, meaningful, and significant.
What struck me about it – and while I know my friend was speaking for both he and his wife, he used the first person singular – was his use of those three little words: I love you.
Those three little words, from the mouth and heart of a parent to a child, hold more meaning than words can describe. And in today’s society, those three little words, from the mouth and heart of a father to a child, are pure gold. Those three little words, in the right context, can change a life.
So when I heard my friend say to his daughter, “I love you”, without qualifier, seriously, and in a stand-alone sentence, I was deeply moved. Would to God that more fathers would say that to their children!
It should come as no surprise that my friend is a follower of Jesus. He is able to tell his daughters that he loves them so freely because he has experienced the love of God, made known in Jesus. Because he is loved – because he knows he is loved – he can love.
“This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us” (1 John 4.10-12, NLT).