My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary a few days ago. Now, we have certainly changed in 25 years…or have we? I look at him and still see the boy I knew in third grade – that annoying little brat I couldn’t stand until junior high, who then became one of my best friends in high school. Roy was the class-clown and a hot-tempered jock; and I was Miss Congeniality, valedictorian and closet rebel.
After high school, Roy went to college in Texas and found Jesus, while I followed a boyfriend to college and found Jack Daniels. When my boyfriend left, the booze stayed, and my best friend suggested I renew my friendship with Roy. Well, we didn’t just renew our friendship. God did something NEW in both of us. Roy showed me a Jesus I had never known – a real, loving, compassionate, forgiving God, who walks and talks with me every single day. And then Jesus bound our hearts together in love.
When I look at my husband today – 25 years later – I see him as the annoying, curly-haired third grader. I see the cocky, hot-tempered quarterback/basketball player. I see the father of my children, the tireless provider for our family, the servant leader of my heart. But we are both changing, getting older, and each year it’s harder to find something NEW or surprising about each other. Our relationship could easily become stale or commonplace as so many do.
Scripture warns against the temptation to let our hearts wander when the NEWness fades…
Okay, now let me add two more words. Impossible…without Jesus.
Proverbs says that God wishes to “bless your fountain,” but if the water in our fountains comes from human emotional wells, the pools will run dry after a few years. Bitterness, selfish desires and unfulfilled expectations stagnate and poison human wells, causing marriage fountains to spew ugliness and pain.
It is only Living Water from the Eternal Spring that produces a fountain of NEW love daily that never ceases its flow. The LORD alone is the infinite Source of satisfying, captivating love.
I want to share one final story to illustrate the LORD’s provision of NEW ways to love. We, like many of you, are feeling the economic pinch and did not plan a big 25th anniversary celebration. I have always tucked away in my heart a budding hope that someday Roy and I will renew our vows in a church, since our actual wedding took place in a hotel banquet room. For a fleeting moment, I considered unfurling that hope for this special anniversary, but didn’t feel a peace about the timing or circumstances. Maybe for our 30th, I thought, and rolled, tucked and packed away the hope again.
Two weeks before our 25th wedding anniversary, we attended the church where we began our ministry years – 2,200 miles away from home. The pastor was speaking on marriage, and at the end of the service, he opened the altar to any couple who wished to renew their wedding vows. A lump the size of a grapefruit formed in my throat. Not only had my God just provided a vow renewal ceremony in our home church with the people we loved most in the world attending, but I didn’t even have to stress about cake and punch! How awesome is that?
Roy and I gazed into each other’s eyes and again promised to love each other for eternity – with the echo of others’ promises ringing in our ears. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder beside those with whom we’d co-labored in ministry for so many years. Roy and I recommitted our lives to each other as familiar voices rang out, recommitting their hearts to their own marriages. What precious NEWness we experienced that day – our new anniversary date – June 14, 2009 – shared now with so many of our brothers and sisters-in-Christ.