That was the date that Deanna and I exchanged our vows. “For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness, and in health. In the good that may brighten our days, in the bad that may darken our ways. And keeping ourselves only to one another, as long as we both shall live.”
To be honest, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long. And as I think about those vows, we have shared good days, and bad… together.
I remember our first apartment. It was “our” place, our home. We really thought it was something. Looking back through pictures, it was small. I remember how hot it got in that apartment (the air conditioning rarely worked). There were many summer days that we would get home from work, empty all of our ice cube trays into our aquarium (to keep our fish from dying), and then spend the evening at the mall (their air conditioning worked!).
I remember leading our first youth group together, and all the fun we had with those kids. I also remember when the Lord blessed us with our own first child – Lacey – and then with Hannah a few years later. Well, Lacey is now a senior in college, and Hannah is a senior in high school. As we have watched them grow up, and mature into young women, we saw our share of scrapes and bruises, broken toys and broken hearts, the joys of new-found friends, and the disappointment of watching friends move away. But through it all, the Father has been faithful, and both of our “little girls” have made us proud in who they have become, and are becoming.
Deanna and I have shared the blessings of ministry, the challenges of secular employment (not to mention the years I was “self employed”), the joys of parenting and building our own family, as well as the many (many) financial challenges.
Together, we got through a heart attack (mine), the death of my parents, and other dark days. Together. Moses records in the Creation account that God saw that “it was not good for man to live alone.” We are created as relational beings, with a need for companionship. I am so very thankful that the Lord gave Deanna and I to one another. The valleys do not seem so long, deep, or dark when you have someone to pass through them alongside of you.
These past twenty-six plus years, the Father has led us to some really great places-of-service. Until twelve years ago, Deanna and I had the awesome privelege to work with some great young people and parents. We believed that our life-call would be to young people. But the Lord began redirecting our hearts toward pastoral ministry. In the summer of 1999, He began opening doors that led us to where we serve today – Porter Free Will Baptist Church. As long as He has a place for us to serve here, it is my desire to work in this corner of His vineyard.
He has blessed us beyond measure, and we are thankful. But like everyone else, we have also had some disappointments. And I am sure that some of them were divinely ordered disappointments. But we have never been disappointed in the Faithful One. And because He was faithful yesterday, we know that we can count on Him – come what may – for all of our tomorrows. I will be forty nine in a little over a month. While at least my perception is that forty nine is not old, my heart is thankful for what David wrote: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25 (ESV).
As I look back, as it were, in the rear view mirror of life, I cannot help but also look forward with anxious anticipation for what the Father has in store for us ahead.
Jeremiah 29:11 assures us of His desire to bless His children: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans of welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV)