My wife Val and I are coming up on our 35th wedding anniversary. There are things about that fact that seem wrong. How could 35 years have gone by already? Then we take a step back and note: our oldest son is 32, we got married during the Carter administration, I still had platform shoes then, and my body seems to be telling me that it's been much longer than 35 years. I mean, there are Major League baseball players whose dads I saw break in to the Major Leagues and now the sons have retired! Ahhhh.
On the other hand, as Val told our kids when they were in school, we seem to be a dying breed and our children were rare. They had parents who were still married. They were a minority in their school classrooms. We hardly take much credit for that. Oh, sure, there was tenacity and hard work on our part to get through the rough patches; first getting acquainted, then raising kids, handling (or mishandling) finances, dealing with lulls in the relationship, facing crisis, all natural parts of marriage but anyone of which can be a deal breaker.
And there seems to be a sense at which, when others throw in the towel and you've outlasted them, some seem to think, "well, at least I outlasted them." And then they bail.
We are certain there are two things (at least) that have held us together, and in fact have helped us to grow more in love over the years. First, we made a promise. No, we didn't cross our fingers behind our backs just in case, and no, we didn't include extra small print below the vows to allow ourselves a few escape clauses, we promised. Before our friends, before our families, before one another and most of all before God, that we would be one, no matter what. And there has been plenty of what. We both felt strongly about keeping our promise to all those people, to one another, and especially to God. But those verses that were read in our ceremony from I Corinthians 13 about love stated that love is a choice, not a feeling. Love is patient, love is kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud or rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrong, rejoices in truth not evil, always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Those aren't feelings, those are actions.
Now, to treat another person like that is not natural. Even if we're head over heals in love with someone, those feelings aren't steady, or eternal, they're subject to the environment we're in, whether or not we're treated in like manner, and can't be manufactured. But with God's help, which is what we've sought over the years, it's possible to love that other person in sickness and in health, if you're rich or if you're poor, as long as you both shall live. The more you learn about God's love and forgiveness towards you, the better able you are to demonstrate that kind of care for someone God has placed in your life. We've prayed, had others pray, and sought wisdom from God's Word to help get us through.
It's still not been easy, at least for Val, I'm sure. But with God's help we've made it this far and with God's help we'll see it through "till death do us part."
God's heart aches when marriages crumble. In some senses to throw in the towel is to say God can't get us through, our problems are too great for Him. Now I'm well aware that the bible allows for some exceptions and I've known folks who had to avail themselves of those exceptions, but I think we can all agree that marriage has taken many unnecessary hits in this day and age.
Bethel Bible Church is hosting an event called "The Art of Marriage" March 23, 24. We're interested in giving you the tools you need to not only survive marriage, but to have your marriage flourish. Produced by Family Life Ministries, this six video series will be helpful in fanning the flame or rekindling the ember that is your marriage.
For more information see the posted event for Bethel Bible Church on March 23, 24 called "The Art of Marriage", or call 708-424-1384 for more details. Registrations are due by Sunday, March 18th.