65th Anniversary: Covenant

Last Saturday, my parents-in-law celebrated their 65th anniversary.  I wanted Luke, our son, to appreciate the rarity and significance of the event.  So I gave him some facts on why 65 years of marriage is so rare:

  1. It's hard to stay with someone that long.
  2. You'd have to get married early (by today's standards).
  3. Both husband and wife would have to live to their 80s.
In thinking back now, I realize I missed the most important point.  Mom and dad didn't stay married this long just because they happened to marry early or that, by the grace of God, they've lived this many years.  They've stayed married because they took their vows seriously.  The covenant (of marriage) is valued.

The idea of keeping our word is almost viewed as old-fashioned and those who insist on it as sticks-in-the-mud.  Miss an appointment -- no big deal, we can reschedule.  Late for a gathering -- it's okay, as long as we're not the last to arrive.  Break a promise -- they'll understand that I meant it when I said it.  Individually, they may seem like minor, isolated incidents.  The problem is the slippery slope effect.  As we justify each situation, the value of our word erodes.  Further, the nature of justification is that it's one-sided; in our minds, what we've done is excusable.

I don't say this claiming to always keep my word.  My wife and children know that I don't.  What I would like to demonstrate for them and others, though, is that it's a big deal to keep my word and a bigger deal when it's broken.  When I promise to take Luke on a camping trip and fail to do so, it grieves me.  I seek his forgiveness.  I want him to understand that I don't take it lightly and will seek to do better.  Peggy, my wife, is very forgiving.  When I promise to do something, I know that my failure will be forgiven.  But that shouldn't make it easier for me to break my word.  Or, if I'm not certain I can keep it, I won't promise it.

Mom and dad have offered us a wonderful legacy.  They've chosen to keep their vows.  They've lived through trials in such a way that the choice doesn't even seem like a choice; the alternative was never considered.  By God's grace, I pray to continue such a legacy in my marriage but in everyday dealings.  

    Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
    Tie them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.

The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009). Pr 3:3.

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