Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What I Cherish

A week has passed since our eventful day, but this is the first chance I've had to write about it.  I was caught by surprise as my husband stole me away for several days to celebrate our 25 years of marriage.

I love the off season when everything, even nature, breathes a sigh and rests.  In a town normally filled with hoards of tourists and no place to park, we discovered, instead, real people . . . school children and laborers, mountain natives and grandparents with their little tikes.  At one point we found a fly fisherman practicing his cast while his dog retrieved the flying objects.  Somehow, the town drew me in with its intimacy.

Likewise, as we hiked through the aspen forests, most on the tail end of their glory, I felt the hushed nearness of their leaves under my feet.  And the fragrance, oh my!  There is nothing quite like the scent of fall in the aspens. All of nature settles in for their deep sleep of winter, anticipating their rest . . . gloriously content.

Then we came upon, this.

Appropriately named, Bridal Veil Falls.

The pool could not be seen from the road.  Only those diligent enough to hike up the hill found the treasure.

I am reminded of the beauty of marriage, the covenant we share before God, and its exclusiveness. One man and one woman, joined together to form a new family unit, a picture of the relationship between Christ and His people.

This anniversary we did something we've never done before--attend a marriage conference.  Though risky in the sense that I was not sure what would be required, the rewards far outweighed the fears.  I came away from that conference with one word . . . 'cherish'.

It's easy to joke about what went wrong at the wedding ceremony, or to make fun of the style and design at that time. And in my case, I bemoan the lack of a professional photographer which left me with few quality pictures. But, when all is said and done, it really doesn't matter.  All of that is only fluff and oh so trivial compared to the rich and rewarding treasure I have in my marriage.  I don't want to forget what I have for lack of a perfect photograph.

I cherish the covenant we made before God, because it is the marriage that truly matters, not the wedding celebration and whether everything was in place.  The beauty comes in its committment and exclusiveness, in its boundaries, for a "cord of three strands is not easily broken."  (Eccles.4:12)

My husband and I have something special, sacred, and holy. And like the awe and hush of nature in its rest, there is a contentment which comes from the Lord in the wear and tear of years that cannot be compared.

Recently, as I took some unique pictures of our rings, I noticed something.  They have scratches, nicks, and dings, obviously well worn and seasoned.  But they still matter in that they represent our marriage covenant.  Like any couple, we too have experienced conflict and trials, heartbreak and disappointment, but God has preserved our lives and kept us only unto Him and for each other. Our marriage was founded on Christ as our Solid Rock and continues to do so, providing great stability.

If I had it to do over again, I would still marry this same man.  He is one of the most selfless, capable, and understanding persons I know.  He loves God deeply and is passionate about living in a way that honors His Lord. However, we are not the same people we were when we got married.  And this is by God's design.

When left to ourselves we miss the checks and balances of relationship and can easily fall into extremes. If we are not in fellowship with other believers, it is easy to miss our own blind spots. And marriage, being the closest of relationships, does this the best.  I, for one, would have been steeped in miserable legalism were it not for my husband who lives so free. I love that about him, that he knows such joy and confidence in the Lord.  I shudder to think where I would be today if God had not brought him into my life to turn me away from extremes, and to provide perspective that is broader than it would be on my own.

I cherish my husband who is truly a gift from God.  I cherish the covenant we made before God, and recognize that it is binding, a serious matter, and not to be taken lightly.  I cherish our rings, a symbol of our promise. I cherish our four children and the way they have enriched our lives. I cherish those tiny ones known only from the dark of the womb, who precede us in heaven. And when I think of all we've gone through together, I cherish our marriage of 25 years.  Last, but not least, I cherish our parents, our heritage, where they have both now celebrated 50 years of marriage. What a treasure!  I look forward to the day when we can offer the same to our children.

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  
Your people will be my people and your God my God."  Ruth 1:16b

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