My wife and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on December 5th. I can remember vividly certain details of that day. Sadly, my wife and I were preoccupied to some degree because we had a 20 page paper due that following Monday. The class? Marriage and Family. It was a class that we were taking together at the University of Louisville. I don’t remember much about it other than seeing my first Michael Moore movie, learning such acronyms as NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) and DINKs (Dual Income No Kids), and the flaming liberal professor whose name escapes me but whose face I can still clearly see.
April and I woke up on December 6th, left the Executive Inn and made our way to Service Merchandise on Shelbyville Road to buy ourselves a brand new word processor with our newly acquired wedding money. Seeing as how we had just hit the jackpot, nothing short of the top of the line would do. We bought a Brother Word Processor, took it home to our apartment and began to plunk out page by page – we needed to get 40 pages done between the two of us. But never fear, we had a brand new Brother Word Processor. This machine was a beauty! She had a “5 X 9” CRT Screen, on-screen tutorial, grammar check, spreadsheet program (that I could do budgets on!), and among other things, a fold up locking keyboard on hinges! Whew – doesn’t that sound exciting! It was a laptop before laptops were around – granted it weighed just a little less than my first car – but it had a handle so that, if by chance you were strong enough, you could carry it around.
We tried to finish our papers. We really did. We worked all day and somewhere in the evening we both realized – we’re not going to get finished. As newlyweds, with two whole days of marriage under our collective belts, we were going to fail, yes fail, Marriage and Family. And fail we did. We didn’t even bother showing up to class on December 7th. Most likely, we went out to eat and spoke poorly about the professor and his unrealistic expectations (never mind he had been telling us all semester to get the paper done week by week).
Failing a Marriage and Family class though, is not nearly as devastating as failing in marriage – which is what would have happened to April and I – had it not been for the grace of God. Statistically, one out of every two marriages fail. I wonder what those statistics would bear out for a teenage couple becoming pregnant in their senior year of high school and freshman year of college, having a child and THEN entering into marriage? Statistically, what are the ‘odds’ that we would have stayed together?
You see, this is not a story of how April and I purposed to stay together through thick and thin. Honestly, we didn’t like each other very much and had it been up to us, we would have been divorced in our first year. But God (I love those two words), had another plan. You see, He sought us. And He found us. And blessedly, some 17 years later, by the grace of God, we have not gotten an ‘F’ in marriage and family as our final grade. O, we have failed at times to be sure BUT Christ is not through with us yet. April and I look back at who we were apart from Christ – and we marvel at His grace to two lost sinners with no hope and no future (according to the statistics).
Reflecting on 17 years of marriage, I am profoundly thankful that 16 of those have been wonderful – and each year gets better. It has been a great pleasure to see my wife progress in Christ-likeness over these 16 years since our conversion. She is my crown (Proverbs 12:4). She exhibits those characteristics beautifully of the virtuous wife found in Proverbs 31. I conclude with the writer of Proverbs 31, “Many daughters have done well, BUT you excel them all.”