It was a Friday evening, at 7:00 p.m. to be exact. Janet and I were at Trinity United Methodist Church, on the south side of Chicago about a mile from each of our family homes. Reverend Ross Sweeney and our friend, Reverend Stephen Liddicoat, jointly performed our wedding ceremony. That event took place 18262 days ago – that’s exactly 50 years ago tonight… August 24, 1973. So, tonight we celebrated 100 years of marriage – 50 for Janet and 50 for me!
Who would have ever thought that Janet and I would be sitting here tonight thinking about the start of what we would both say is the greatest adventure of our lives! And to be sure, we could never have predicted or anticipated the lives we have been blessed to have. We didn’t start out on a normal course. We were married on a Friday night and my finals at school were starting on the following Monday… So we stayed two nights at a local hotel and started our life in an apartment on Sunday evening. A week later, after my summer semester finals, we headed to California for our honeymoon – starting in San Fransisco and ending up in San Diego.
Trinity was the church we both grew up in. Our parents met there when both our mothers were pregnant with our youngest siblings in late 1959. That means that we have known each other for about 65 years now. As we look back on the past 50 years of marriage, it has been helpful for both of us to have so many common memories of our neighborhood, school and friends. We grew up in the same circles and so our memories and shared experiences run deep!
I married the perfect partner for me. I can’t help but believe that God had the whole thing planned out and I’m sure that Janet would say the same thing. Has every day been perfect? Of course not. But being married for half a century is like running a marathon – not a sprint. There are inevitably highs and lows – celebrating and grieving. We have celebrated the birth of our three children and four grandsons. On the other hand, we have buried our parents and I lost my youngest brother several years ago. We have had a front row seat watching the circle of life. And now, Janet and I represent the oldest living generation of our family.
We have survived a move away from our hometown of Chicago, started and built several companies, made decisions for me to leave the corporate world and attend seminary; including teaching numerous Bible studies for the past 25 years. We have survived many detours with health issues and the loss of dear friends. We have moved several times and we both believe that our best years are still ahead of us.
We have wrestled with financial issues and tried to figure out how to make ends meet when times were tough. Conversely, we have been blessed beyond measure with the ability to help others and live a lifestyle that, God willing, will continue throughout the rest of our lives. Like the apostle Paul, we have learned to be content in whatever circumstances we are in at the time.
What is more amazing to me than anything is the reality that we have lived when all we had in the beginning were dreams, hopes and aspirations. No way could we have predicted how our lives have turned out fifty years later.
I could go on and on about all the exciting things that have happened to us. And we are both eager with anticipation to see what the future holds. But God already knows the future and has also orchestrated every day of our past. Our verse for tonight comes from Psalm 139. The psalmist tells us, in Psalm 139:15-16, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I am so grateful that God created Janet for me and me for her! I can’t imagine it any other way. My encouragement this evening is that each of us has the ability to choose, for the most part, how we want to live our lives. Janet and I have chosen to live our lives dedicated to God and to one another. My prayer is that God has ordained many more days for us and we will continue to dedicate our lives to serve Him. Janet, I love you and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. To all of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…