30 11 2013

It was 31 years ago today in a little United Methodist Church in the town of Lebanon, Pennsylvania that a guy named Rudy committed his life to his bride named Terri. They had no idea the adventure that awaited them in the days to come. But I believe that is a good thing! Too many of us want to know everything that is going to happen and we want it listed out in a clearly organized itinerary. We often demand God to fill us in about the mystery of what waits for us around the bend! We claim that the information would make us better prepared to handle the hot corners that could otherwise cause our tires to blow out. But I don’t believe any of that nonsense for a second.

I have to be honest with you. If God showed up earlier that morning on December 4, 1982 and offered me the detailed script of all that the next 31 years would entail- I can tell you right then and there I would have opted out! I would have said, “No thank you!” I would have traded my life in for a nice bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast! All of the information without the necessary inspiration and essential grace from above that came just when it was needed most was not yet known to me. The future behavior revealed with God’s revelation for me to believe still concealed would have not been enough 31 years ago to provide the stamina to dedicate my heart fully to Terri. All I would have seen was what was written on that list. And being a bit of a pessimist when it comes to my own life, my eyes would have zeroed in on the excessive amounts of rain and pain and heartbreak and loss that lay on our horizon. It would have caused my temperament to boil over and my brain to crash like a cheap computer! It would have moved my body to take the first bus out of Lebanon back to Jersey with the goal to spin the wheel of romance again somewhere down the road!

God knows that we can’t handle knowing all of what tomorrow will bring! He knows that we can be given little glimpses and peeks at what might be playing on our personal screens soon- but to view the whole movie will have to wait. God’s grace is sufficient for our every circumstance but we only know that as we walk through each chapter page by page. God’s mercies are new every morning but we don’t get Thursday’s supply on Wednesday. Even in the Old Testament, the Israelites in the wilderness could only gather enough manna for that day. If they tried to hoard extra, the maggots would have messed the meal! God wanted to teach his children how to trust him and how to believe what he said and how to have faith that the love that his people experienced today would not run in short supply tomorrow. He wants us to learn the same lessons. But we can’t truly experience that reality by only dating God. To know the Lord fully, we must walk the aisle to the front of the altar and before all the watching eyes in our audience- commit our lives fully to God.

Come what may that is what I did with Terri 31 years ago today. I had no idea how hard our life together would turn out to be. But I also had no idea how close two human beings could become when love truly leads the way. God promised us both that December day that he would make us one and he surely has kept his word. Terri is my wife but she is also my best friend. I preach every Saturday and Sunday but Terri is the one I want to tell me how my sermon really was. God made me a dreamer and I do have faith that our Lord can move mountains but Terri is the one I bounce all of my crazy ideas off of. Even though she can go miles without saying a word, Terri is the companion that I must have with me on any journey I take. Terri is the one who knows the real me and still loves me. And Terri is the one that I stood at that church altar for and I waited until she joined me there. And with tears in Ter’s eyes, I made a covenant with her that I would always be there with her no matter whatever came our way. I love her and would do anything for her. I didn’t just want to date her! I wanted to marry her. And knowing all I know now- I would do it all over again. An easy life is not the “Master’s Piece!” The life we have lived has given us our “Master’s Peace!”

I officiate and perform many weddings. I have the best seat in the house- although I stand through every ceremony. I watch the way a bride looks at her groom. I see the man looking through the eyes of love at the gal that is about to share his name and so much more. I wish I could tell you that the magic of that moment will be enough to carry that couple through all that life was about to throw at them. We all know that isn’t true. During the service I will have the man and woman repeat after me and what they communicate to each other is called “The Vows.” They make promises to commit and be there through thick and thin, highs and lows, riches and poverty, sickness and health, the best of times and the worst of seasons that we barely eek our way through. It is the ability to keep those promises that allows love to mature. It is the resilience to keep our oaths and to guard our hearts and constantly look up to God to give us the strength to survive what our weakness only attempts to exploit so our union will crash and burn. With each new adventure comes a brand new chance to hold on to my Terri as we hold on to God together and what comes out on the other side is a marriage that money could never buy made up of memories that are as solid as the rock of Gibraltar.

And on that note, the hopeless romantic in me feels a love song coming on. Are you hearing this Terri? I am singing it for you. And thanks Lord for loving us enough that it is best handled day by day and with each passing moment- for that is how the grace of God is given to us. It is available in an unending supply but never any more or any less than what is necessary right now! Hit it Nat King Cole! “It’s very clear; our love is here to stay. Not for a year but ever and a day. The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know may just be passing fancies and in time may go. But oh, my dear, our love is here to stay. Together we’re going a long, long way. In time the Rockies may tumble, Gibraltar may crumble; they’re only made of clay. But our love is here to stay!”



One response

30 11 2013

Hey Brother. What a truly beautiful post. Terri sounds like a wonderful Proverbs 31 woman. You are certainly blessed. I enjoy reading your blog posts and appreciate you offering them. Ann Whipple has been an encouragement to me…I need to get back in HIS House.

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