March 14, 2012
My wife and I were both saved in our youth but like so many young adults we both drifted away from our Christian base and paid the price for it. Early in our marriage, if anyone took us to court and accused us of being Christians, the case would have been thrown out due to lack of evidence. Our lifestyle was, in a word, worldly.
You see, it wasn’t exactly the textbook formula for putting together a marriage. She’d been divorced for several years and was singlehandedly raising two kids on her own. I’d been divorced for about a year and was stumbling along as a single parent myself. Both sides had financial problems that weren’t going away anytime soon.
Shortly before the wedding, one child flew the coop for the perceived greener pastures of one of the ex-spouses. Shortly thereafter, another child followed suit for the other ex-spouse’s. Directly after the honeymoon, we were blind sided with the news from our employer that we would being transferred to another part of the country, Louisiana. Looking back, what on earth made us think this new union would work is beyond me.
That first summer in the deep South was fraught with cultural changes neither one of us Yankees quickly warmed up to. The crawly, slimy crawfish that I’d used as fishing bait as a boy was considered high cuisine down on the bayou. The locals spoke a dialect that sounded to our Northern ears like a Frenchman trying to speak English with a mouthful of gravel. Both of us had grown up in the Midwest, thinking we had an idea what humidity was like, but we got a advanced course in sultriness that first Southern summer. And so, in this foreign environment, with the pressure of new jobs, children out of pocket, and bills piling up, we plunged forward into our first year of marriage. If you think for a minute it went smoothly, think again.
After a short while, both wayward children found the grass not so green on the other side of their fences, and made their way back home. We began to love our Louisiana home and all the wonderful culture that came with it. Most importantly, our blended family of five now intact, things started a slow, but discernable spiritual ascent.
One afternoon the children came home with an invitation to attend a week-long summer church camp. The missus was all for it. I had some reservations. It was a Baptist camp, after all, and this was the South. No telling what radical ideas these folks would have.
Let God have an second though, and He’ll take a life. Five of them in fact. Upon my insistence, we went and checked out this church that had proposed to drag our children off into the woods of Louisiana. Walking into investigate my suspicions, what I found was a relationship that I’d laid by the side of the road many mile markers back. My wife shook the dust off of hers as well. God quickly turned two lives around that were headed down a road to ruin. Our children found Christ through that Baptist church as well.
The years flew by and the three children turned into seven grandchildren. Oh, and by the way, we’ve never used the term "step-children" during our marriage. One day someone asked which of the children was mine and which my wife’s. I smiled, kinda shrugged my shoulders and playfully replied, "I don’t remember. All I know is they were all raised outta the same wallet."
For the next 15 years or so, there were more job transfers, lots of wonderful memories, and yes, at times, more strife. You see, God doesn’t promise us a perfectly smooth ride, just a great landing spot at the end. Through it all, we grew and grew in our love for each other and our love of our God.
At each turn of the road, God continued blessing us with more and more opportunities to serve Him. For instance, last year my wife and I went on an evangelical mission trip to Lima, Peru - teaching, preaching, and sharing Christ. Let me tell this: there’s nothing like seeing the love of your life sharing the Lord of your life with others.
Oh, I suppose there are millions of stories like ours. God’s accomplishments are innumerous, without question. But as I sit here today, on our twentieth anniversary, looking back over a marriage that sputtered from the onset, to where He has taken us today, I can only imagine what wonderful things He has in store for the next twenty years.