A Plan We Hadn't Imagined!
By Carissa Hertel
Twelve months ago, Ryan and I had major plans for 2020. We were about a month away from our wedding, which would be attended by friends and family from across the country. We were planning a honeymoon in Ecuador, where I had worked at a non-profit for five years. We were excited for what the year had in store, and we felt blessed that God had brought us together to begin the adventure of married life.
Then, in the course of a week, COVID shut down all the trappings of regular life. We found ourselves postponing wedding reception plans and cancelling our honeymoon. Even our appointment to apply for a marriage license was cancelled, and I began to doubt whether we would in fact get married on April 25, as originally planned.
Ryan encouraged me to have faith that God would provide a way to get married on our intended date. We worked with Pastor Andrew and others from Bethel to reimagine what a wedding under COVID restrictions could look like, complete with a Zoom feed for our immediate family to watch from their living rooms. In the end, we did get married on April 25 and even had a “drive by reception” with local friends and family outside our house. It was a lovely day that looked nothing like what I had imagined.
When I think about how God has been real in our life over the past year, I’m reminded of Isaiah 55:9, where God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We had thoughts and plans for a big wedding and many other things over the past year. Due to the pandemic, we were forced to ask, “What is most essential in a wedding and in our lives?”
We found that God stripped away many distractions this past year. With so many activities cancelled, Ryan and I were able to invest more in our marriage. With no other Sunday plans, we were able to invest time in co-leading a Church without Walls group. And instead of an international honeymoon, we are savoring each day at home with our newborn son Elijah, who God brought into our life in late February. We are so grateful for the ways our church family has walked with us through this journey. They helped us replan a wedding. We prayed together during weekly Zoom Bible study. They checked in on us when we couldn’t meet in person. And now they shower us with meals as we have become a family of three. God has been good through it all.