It was 41 years ago today, a Friday night at 7:00 pm at Trinity United Methodist Church, on the south side of Chicago, August 24, 1973, that Janet and I exchanged our vows uniting us as husband and wife. We first met back when we were only 6 years old, one Sunday at the same church where our parents attended adult Sunday School together. In fact, back in 1948, my Mom and Dad were married in the same church. Both Janet and I grew up there – baptized as infants (both of us have since been immersed), confirmed in the church, attended youth programs and generally grew up with Trinity as a significant part of our lives.
We fell in love in the summer of 1972 and where engaged on Christmas Eve of that year. Life was so different then. Janet worked in downtown Chicago, helping her father and we were both attending college. I lived at home as our family couldn’t afford for me to go away to stay at school, so I commuted. In fact, I moved in to help my grandmother after the passing of my maternal grandfather in March of 1972. Grandma lived in the house that Mom grew up in, less than a mile from where we lived and about 2 blocks from Janet’s grandparents. As you can tell, we all lived near each other and it was a tight community. I mowed grass to earn a living and Janet’s yard was even one of the ones I worked on when I was a young boy.
So you could say that Janet and I have grown up together in the truest sense of the word. We were engaged at 19 and married at 20. And, like with all married couples, there have been ups and downs. In fact, it has been during the down times in our lives that we have grown the closest. And the adventures we have had could never have been predicted back then. At first I thought I would be a medical doctor – a surgeon, but that never happened. However, my brother Doug made the grade… I have spent most of my life in the business community – building companies and assisting others. And Janet has trusted that uncertain lifestyle since the beginning. We got used to that life…
That is, until I went to seminary – and that was really something that never made it on our “possibilities” list. Janet received her teaching degree and has worked with special needs children at times throughout our marriage. And to think that we have three children and four grandchildren – who knows what the future holds. The big thing to remember here is that it all started on that Friday evening 41 years ago tonight. That was the night that we each said, “I do…”
And you know what? We did… and that hasn’t always been easy. Kids growing up, working excessively, just life in general – the coming of new lives in the family and the loss of older members of our family… yet our commitment to each other has withstood the test of time. But the fact that “we did” and “we do” pales in comparison to the commitment for the future – “we will.” That is what the rest of our lives is all about. We will love each other and stay committed to each other through the end of our lives and then into eternity. That’s the deal – plain and simple.
Now, are there things I do that annoy Janet on occasion – and visa vera? Absolutely, and that’s part of the attraction. Neither of us wants to be married to someone who agrees with our point of view 100% of the time. There has to be give and take in any growing relationship and after all these years, we have it down. Unfortunately, we know a number of couples who were married well over 40 years and decided to end it. That’s a travesty. People become less tolerant of each other and start to believe that they have some special obligation to satisfy themselves without regard to their spouse. After all that time, it’s just wrong – plain and simple.
And from what we have seen one party has been loyal and faithful and the other spouse has gone off the deep end – only worrying about what satisfies them. It is important to know that Janet and I have a commitment to each other that we will stay the course – period. Part of that is because of our faith – we really believe that what God has joined together is permanent – and not to be taken lightly. And with everything that we have been through, it is tough to imagine that we could encounter something that that would tear our union apart. I just don’t buy that… The commitment is too strong.
That’s just the way that God wants our commitment to Him. Somewhere in our past, most of us have made the decision to follow Christ. And even if we have been faithful, God wants us to stay the course and indicate that “we will” love Him and have Him as Lord of our lives for the rest of all eternity. The verse for this evening reflects what God has to say about marriage. We are told, in Mark 10:6-9, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants your word to be your bond. Whether it is to your spouse or to Him, your commitment for the future is important. My prayer is that God will give you the strength to withstand the trials and tribulations that will undoubtedly become challenges to your word. But with God’s help you can persevere. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… And Happy Anniversary, Janet. I love you!