Fifty years ago is a long time isn’t it? The date was January 18th, 1970…..no cellphones, no Facebook, and Pong was the video game you could magically play on your TV screen. Platform shoes and bell-bottoms were in fashion, microwave ovens were dangerous and scary, and a movie ticket was $1.50. The national news was awash with Vietnam War protestors, the anti-establishment movements, and bra-burning women. (I didn’t participate in any of those because I was busy looking for myself in other places.)
In particular, why was January 18th, so important? It was the day Joe and I got married. Yep. Fifty years ago. A most unlikely pair. An uneventful road trip down to Dillon, South Carolina found us tying the knot, as two unbelievers in the presence of the town’s Justice of the Peace. The official’s wife served as our witness. We stood before a lectern, with our feet firmly planted on an old linoleum floor. A few phrases were repeated and then it was over. After which the next couple, in the queue to get hitched, entered through the door as we exited. That was it… no flowers, no fluff, no wedding dress, unless you consider a mini-skirt to be appropriate. We drove back to Richmond that cold afternoon, and both of us went to work the next day. We quickly determined our honeymoon was over before it even started. Sigh. (I’m still waiting for my trip to Tahiti or Bora-Bora, while lodging myself in one of those thatched-roofed huts, beautifully built over clear pristine waters. Wonder where the bathroom is?)
For sure, Joe and I would NEVER have made it through pre-marital counseling. We were too different and entirely unmatched. He was monetarily frugal and a real tightwad, while I irresponsibly accumulated credit card debt at any store which would sell me something. He was a quiet introvert who was mostly comfortable living under a moss-covered rock, while I was the social butterfly who was happiest when the crowd reached maximum roaring capacity. He was careful, loyal, and trustworthy, while I was careless, impulsive and fickle. A train wreck in the making. Nevertheless, we DID have two things in common: we didn’t know Christ, and we got caught up in the drug culture shortly after moving to the fast-living, big city of Chicago that same year. Our marriage wouldn’t have been given a chance by anyone who had sense enough to assess it. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was atop the music charts that year, and the lyrics described an accurate picture of the cloud which loomed over us. Statistics said that our union would be a certain disaster, and would quickly end before it even started. Our future together was probably doomed by all human accounts.
And it almost was…..
Until we both met Christ in 1978. A most unlikely pairing for both of us. Yet surprisingly, here we are, fifty years later, by the grace of God. I don’t say that as a cliche’. I say that because it has been entirely by God’s merciful grace that two very different people have enjoyed the blessing of a half-century together.
Why am I telling you this?What does all this mean for you, besides knowing the history of our unlikely earthly pairing? Our story is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. The larger story behind this is, if you’re in a personal relationship with Christ, then you’re a partner in the ultimate of all unlikely pairings, just as Joe and I were. Unlikely and unmatched. The differences are huge. Jesus is sinless and compassionate, we are sinful and selfish. He is merciful and forgiving, we’re judgmental and quick to extract our pound of flesh. He’s a giver, and we’re a taker. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8b) We’re complete opposites, in nature, character, attitude, and anything else. He is the most unlikely One we’ll ever be joined to, if match-making is the criteria for the basis of our relationship with Him. In fact, Match.com would immediately weed out the possibility of a successful, joy-filled partnership because of all those differences. However, thankfully, you and I have experienced the supernatural relationship of being drawn to Christ. In that, comes His promise to have and to hold us in sacrificial love which is forever the tie that binds. Even though we’re dramatically different in every way, Jesus has nevertheless pledged His faithfulness to us. Truly, it really is a match made in heaven, and our life’s goal is to become more like Him as we press on.
Joe and I do have quite a story, for sure, but it’s nothing compared to the greatest love story in history. Joe has loved me well, but compared to union in Christ, our earthly marriage pales. If Christ can be the glue and foundation of an odd couple like us, just think of what else He can do for you. So, take heart in your difficult circumstances…. from man’s perspective you may not see it, but nothing is impossible with Him. (Mark 10:27)
As a needed reminder, the church is the bride of Christ, and we, as believers are wedded to Him for eternity. NO earthly marriage is more unlikely than the one between our Creator and us. Think of it…. God, came to earth in human form. He was born to die for His bride, and He has promised her that even the gates of hell cannot break that bond. How much more can someone offer you in a union, than to be willing to die for you, His beloved, in order to purchase your eternal joy and security?
If you’re struggling today because you feel lonely, or unloved, or devalued, Turn Around and see Who you have. Jesus has betrothed Himself to you for eternity. Our earthly relationships cannot give us, no matter for fifty years or fifty days, an unconditional love and perfect peace. Broken human beings weren’t designed to be able to do this, anyway. If we look to people for that kind of hope, we’ll be sorely disappointed. I love Joe, but I NEED Jesus. If I confuse the two, and convince myself that Joe can fill that need, then I’m going to spend my days disappointed, frustrated, depressed and lonely. Not to mention the undue pressure that would put on Joe.
Yes, Joe and I were an unlikely pair that day long ago in South Carolina, when we spoke our vows to one another. We’re still as different as night and day, but we’ve spent fifty years together and we hope for many more. However, reality is that death will separate us one day. On the contrary, those of us in Christ can be sure of this: Jesus vowed by His sacrifice on the cross, to have and to hold us….and it won’t end in death ’til we part. In fact, it will be the beginning of forever. An unmatched odd pairing that is real, and will last for eternity. Praise God and be encouraged. Now, THAT’S a real anniversary to celebrate!