My wife and I will be celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary on this coming Sunday, July 12th. I was reading that the fortieth anniversary is the ruby jewel anniversary. Without going too far beyond the G rating of this blog, I noticed that Kay Jewelers describes the ruby as the gem of passion and of smoldering desire. And as I look back over our forty years of marriage (and five years of dating before that) I can honestly say that we have always lived together with a passion for life, for God, for our family and for each other.
Piper has been my best friend for forty-five years, my confidant, my shoulder to rest on, my encourager, the love of my life and my constant companion through thick and thin! I think all of that is why I was so devastated when some members of her family would even consider telling our kids and a mutual friend that they didn’t know if I would “stick” with her when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
As I considered our upcoming anniversary, I found myself facing an inner battle between my emotions and my faith. One side of me was thoroughly excited about this milestone anniversary, of the many years we have enjoyed together and what the Word tells of a long life and bright future ahead. The other side of me looked at the increase in physical weakness she has been exhibiting a little more often as of late, my sore joints from having to exert more muscular strength to help her to accomplish her daily needs and the constant pressure of the emotional strain that comes from observing my once lovely and lively, compassionate, fun-filled and active wife who cannot walk nor do much of anything without assistance anymore.
I also considered the memory of our thirtieth wedding anniversary which was our last stress free, I guess you could say “normal” marriage celebration. At that time we were able to hook up our trailer and spend a week alone at our favorite place in the world, in the midst of the Plumas National Forest, situated at 5500 plus feet above sea level within the borders of Plumas Eureka State Park in north eastern California near the Nevada border. Now that was living… that was one of the best times in our recent lives!
This morning as I sat next to my wife beside her side of the bed, I just stared at her and thought about all of this. About the last forty five years, about the good times that far exceeded the bad times, and how special she is to me. I also considered the Word of God that describes how in a marriage the man and women shall become one. (Mark 10:8) I must say that over these last six years I have really come to understand the significance of that statement. When all the loving intricacies and interactions between a husband and a wife slowly begin to deteriorate due to a deliberating disease in one partner, you really begin to physically, mentally and emotionally feel like a major part of you missing!
So as I placed my hand gently on Piper’s side this morning and began to pray and speak out the Word of life and thank the Lord for her and my good/blessed fortune at having her in my life, I suddenly began to see things from Papa God’s viewpoint. Within a few moments I noticed that the entire mood in the bedroom had changed as it was charged with His expectations of life! Suddenly the visual marks of the disease seemed to fade from view and I could only see her as God sees her… healed and whole, lovely and lively, filled with compassion, with that fun-loving glint of joy in her eyes, that special hop in her step and her God-given passion for love and for life.
Colossians 2:10 in the Phillip’s paraphrase tells us that “your own completeness is only realized in him, who is the Authority over all authorities, and the Supreme Power over all powers.” As I sat through that transformation of thought, the redirection of my faith, and the re-igniting of our earnest expectations of God’s best for my wife and I this morning, I understood where, what and Who we needed to keep our eyes on… no matter what is going on before us. The Lord Jesus Christ is the One who completes us as individuals and as one in our marriage covenant together.
Piper is a unique and interconnected part of me as I am with her, but our completeness comes through our oneness with Him. I think we could rewrite that verse to say what it implies in that “the two shall become one… in Him!” For He is the key to every success in every part of our lives whether you're staring at death in the face, a desperate financial need, an emotional struggle, relationship problems or any other situation! He is the one that completes the picture with His answers, through His power and with His authority over every other authority above, below and upon this earth.
I have come to believe that this is the great realization that every Christian must come to! It is the realization that is causing me to see our fortieth wedding anniversary in a new, expectant and excited light. In fact, I started telling Piper again yesterday afternoon that now that we are living in North Carolina and only a few hours away from the Great Smoky Mountains, that I am fully expecting us to get another trailer rig and go on some more exciting camping/hiking adventures in the places that some of our country’s forefather’s traveled, hunted, lived and fought to keep our country united... And I expect it to be happening soon!
Have a great day filled with the realization that your completeness in life comes from a oneness with Him. Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “With Whom am I expecting to be complete in today?”