So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.” Ephesians 5:16-17
Forty-four years. 16,071 sunrises and sunsets. That’s the length of the on-going saga of our story. It seems like yesterday but it also seems like another lifetime. We both were young… maybe too young. But we were in love, we wanted to walk together so that day, this day forty-four years later, we started walking and just never stopped.
We were chatting last night before we drifted off to sleep and I told her we were blessed. There have been bumps but not the kind of bumps that come from wanting to quit or wanting something new. They were the kind of bumps that come from life. The death of our parents, starting over when the Air Force or God gave new orders, kids being kids and people being people, and yes, me being me and her being her. But what a journey.
Forty-four years. I remember the excitement of our wedding day. I in my snazzy light-blue tux and patent leather high heeled shoes (hey, cut me some slack…it was the seventies) and her standing at the back of the church in her white wedding dress and long brown hair. Her standing and then walking…walking to me to join me…to start life together. I was marrying up…and well.
Forty-four years. I remember embarking on the first of many great adventures as we flew to Europe not for a honeymoon but to live. The Air Force sent us to live in Germany and while the separation from family was hard…life was enchanting. I remember looking out our apartment window overlooking an alpine valley with the trees covered with a light dusting of snow. I remember our German landlord knocking on our door and presenting my new bride with a freshly skinned rabbit. He was beaming and she was wondering, “What do I do with this?”
Forty-four years. I remember coming back to the USA after three years and seeing our country through new eyes. Leave for a while and you never see it quite the same. Leave for a while and the warts and imperfection all fall into perspective. I remember traveling to the Midwest for the first time and finding out that not everyone liked grits or even knew what they were. I remember the birth of our first daughter and realizing that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Forty-four years. I remember daughter number two surprising us…and what a good surprise it was. Our family was complete (or not) and our future secure in the Air Force…until the Whisperer whispered. So long Air Force and hello pastoring and walking by faith. With a young wife and two kids ages three and two, no insurance and a pastorate that paid $12,000..well, faith was a little harder…a little less sure. About then I began to realize just how big, how sure, God is. I’m still learning that one but He has a perfect track record.
Forty-four years. I remember the day when we had to pack up and leave a bunch of people we loved a lot and that loved us a lot. With a station-wagon and a U-Haul stuffed to the gills we moved to a little town called Cobden. It was new all over again and we fell in love again with another wonderful group of people. It was at Cobden that God surprised us with daughter number three. It was at Cobden we raised our family because God let us stay 14 years. It was at Cobden we learned deep lessons of love and grace. After fourteen years the Whisperer whispered again and we knew we had to obey. It was one of the hardest things we ever did.
Forty-four years. I remember coming to Harrisburg and to Dorrisville Church and wondering how God would write this new part of our story. I remember wondering how long this chapter would be. Well, here we are 20 years into this part of our story—almost half of our married lives—and I am still amazed at God’s grace and His people’s patience. Our kids are grown, we have eight grandkids and Judy and I are experiencing what it is like to grow old together. I highly recommend it.
Forty-four years. James, the half-brother of Jesus tells us that life is like a vapor. In other words it goes by quickly. Remember how you breathe on a cold morning and your breath appears as if smoke? As quickly as it appears…it leaves. That’s life. I am amazed at my age, the length of our marriage and just how awesome life has been been…and is. Paul, another Bible guy, had it right. He says, “So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.” Good advice, Paul, good advice indeed. Forty-Four years. Yup, life is good. I’m still in love with Jesus, still in love with Judy, and still in love with my kids and grandkids. I get up each day just waiting to see what God has in store…waiting for the next whisper…the next great adventure. Till then I bet you can guess what I’m going to do. Yup…I’m going to rest in Him. He’s got this.