When the Apostle Paul described the synergy undergirding his ministry he said, “God’s grace toward me has not been in vain. I worked harder than anyone; nevertheless, it was not I, but the grace of God that was working with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). As my wife and I talked with our children during the celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary last week, this was the text which came to mind. Here’s what they said that made this happen:
One of our daughters wrote: Thank you, Dad, for always loving my mother more than yourself, and loving God more than you loved her. Thank you, Mom, for accepting my father for who he is—with all of his quirks—and helping him grow to be the man he is. May God bless you with many more years together, and may he bless my marriage as he has blessed yours.
At our renewal of vows ceremony, our son said: We are gathered today to celebrate and renew Doug and Maja’s covenant of marriage, which has not changed over the last 40 years. And instead of waxing philosophical, I thought I would take this chance to share some aspects of Doug and Maja’s relationship that have been a blessing to me over the years.
Mom, Dad, Your faithfulness to each other, your kindness toward each other, and respect for each other has been a great encouragement to me as I have grown up in your home and have begun a home of my own.
You are two people who have very different personalities, but you have cultivated an attitude of love for each other, and have not let those differences drive you apart. One of your vows is that you promise to work at understanding each other, and that has taken a lot of work. And you are still working at it, so that today you understand each other with much greater depth than you did when you started many years ago.
You have modeled unity and respect for each other. One of my early memories as a kid is asking to sit in the front seat of the car, and Mom telling me that I couldn’t because you and Dad were a team, and it was important that you not be separated. That made a big impression on me. You were also deliberate in not contradicting or criticizing each other in our presence as kids. Now, as an adult, I realize how difficult and how valuable that was.
You have modeled perseverance. You have had seasons of life where loving and being respectful to each other was very difficult. There have been seasons of unemployment and depression that have tested your love and respect for each other. But you have not wavered in your support for or commitment to each other. And now you are enjoying the fruit of your faithfulness. You have become deeply loyal, affectionate companions for each other, and that is a beautiful thing to behold.
And now I will lead you in repeating the words you spoke to each other 40 years ago today, the words that set you on the course you’ve been traveling, the course in which you have glorified God, and the course through which God has graciously blessed you and many others.
Maja/ Doug, I love you. I delight in you and want only what is best for you. To that end I give you myself for the rest of my life. I promise to work at understanding you and showing you respect. I promise to support and encourage you in your faith. I promise to trust you with myself and to forgive your when you fail. In order to keep these vows, I promise too, that I will strive to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.