It was 47 years ago tonight that Janet and I had our wedding rehearsal at Trinity Methodist Church – where our families had first met back in 1959 while our Moms were pregnant at the same time. After the rehearsal, the bridal party headed to The Barn, an upscale restaurant relatively close to us that we went to for special occasions. It was my favorite place to dine; and Janet felt the same way.
The next night at 7:00 p.m. we were married, had a wonderful reception at the Beverly Country Club and drove to the Hyatt Regency near O’Hare to spend the week-end before coming back to live in an apartment we had made arrangements to rent. That’s because I had attended summer school at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle that summer and finals were the week after our wedding. After all my exams were completed, Janet and I were off to California, traveling from San Fransisco all the way to San Diego before coming back home to get into the rhythm of starting our regular daily life together.
I had two more quarters of school near downtown Chicago before graduation and Janet also commuted to St. Xavier, a college located in Oak Lawn. By the time we both graduated Janet had finished her student teaching and I had started working with my father in the family wood products business following his cancer diagnosis.
We were pretty young to get married but we both knew that we were destined to be together and that is exactly what has happened throughout the years. We have had great years and some difficult times as well, but we have managed to raise three great children and are now pouring out lives into four grandchildren as well.
As I look back on our lives, we have gone from being “young and dumb” to being the patriarch and matriarch of our extended family. We have suffered the loss of friends and family members – all of our parents are gone now – and we now spend our time infusing our grandchildren with the values that we hope will become part of their DNA as the years roll by.
Janet and I are both healthy, which is a terrific blessing. But the thing that I am most grateful for is the fact that I don’t think that God could have provided me a better partner than Janet. The depth of our love for one another continues to grow year after year and we each bring so much to our marriage. We don’t always agree on everything, and that’s alright. In fact, as long as two people believe in win/win situations, it is refreshing to have such an authentic, genuine relationship that results in our collective input for the best possible solution in any given situation. It has served us well for decades.
Our friends frequently remark that we were made for each other. Neither of us can imagine life without the other. So as another year passes, we will take time to remember the events that we have shared and that mark the passing of our life events – together. We both believe that the best is still to come; and that spending time to review the past is an important thing to do.
I was curious about how the Bible speaks about anniversaries. I found out that there is only one time in the entire Bible that the importance of an anniversary is mentioned. And that is when Moses is recounting the rules to be followed in celebrating the Passover. Moses tells us, in Deuteronomy 16:5-6, “You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt.”
The departure of the people of God from Egypt marked the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. It was one of the most notable and important events in the Old Testament, signifying the fact that God would be with them – not just then, but through everything that they would encounter. And that’s how it has been with Janet and me. God has been with us each step of the way since we started this journey – just like He was with the people who fled Egypt to the Promised Land.
My encouragement tonight is that we are told to mark events and remember our past. That’s one of the things that happen when birthdays and anniversaries come each year. They are times of celebration and reflection – even planning for the future. My prayer is that you will take time to mark the passing of time with those people in your life who are important to you. Relationships are strengthened by spending time together – something Janet and I do even more now that we are entering retirement. Happy anniversary, Janet. I love you and can’t even imagine what God has in store for us in the future. And to all of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…