Becky and I are grateful to God today to celebrate 16 years of marriage. June 29, 1996 we said “I do,” on the third anniversary of our first date. After now nineteen years as an “item,” sixteen in covenant together, I am bolstered in my belief in God’s persevering of the saints.
I tried to kill our marriage several times, steadily over the course of several years. Actually, I wasn’t really trying to; I just was. Marriage puts two sinners in close quarters under the commitment neither will try to escape. We trust each other and exchange expectations. Every day of marriage is like five minutes after the fall of mankind. The fruit’s been eaten, the nakedness and shame are revealed. Will we shift blame and self-justify? Usually. I got really good at it.
But something happens when “I do” becomes “I will.” God is in the mix. It’s a covenant, not a contract. The union can be upheld by one party if he or she desires. We are married today not because we were always promise-keepers, but because God was. And God is. And God will be. About seven years ago I underwent an experience I call gospel wakefulness. People don’t change, generally. But God can change people. And he did. It took Becky a long while to trust me. I had crushed her heart. But in the end, God awed her too.
I don’t wish my days of regret on any marriage. But I’ve been around long enough to know regretless marriages are pretty rare. Long marriages are stories of hurts harbored or forgiven. Becky and I have learned the power of Christ’s sufficient grace in our marriage. We have learned how to die to ourselves, live to God, and enjoy each other. And here we are, sixteen years later, still standing, still swooning, drunk on love like those “I do” days.
Fridays are my days off, and sometimes she and I will be driving around to one destination or another, and I’ll just look over at her, take her hand, and say, “Look what God did.” I don’t want to take God’s faithfulness for granted. Two weeks ago we took an early anniversary getaway. On the drive back home, she took my hand and said, “I’m glad I’m married to you.” I could’ve died, y’all, and gone to heaven right there.