Ann and I recently celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary – not a particularly auspicious occasion, like a 50th or even a 25th (ours was a gala affair held in a mud and stone “hotel” in our remote village in Nepal). But I guess we unconsciously chose to do this one up in a big way.
This year, we started “celebrating” in February, on our annual get-away-between-our-birthdays trip. We spent the weekend at a guesthouse in Seaside, Oregon, mostly reading aloud to each other the love letters we’d written before we were married. WARNING: Gentlemen, do not try this at home! Note: I did a little better vis a vis a ring after 42 years!
We were engaged in late November, 1975. I was still in college in Arkansas while Ann was working 500 miles away, in Houston, TX. The wedding was on May 1st so basically, we were separated for the six months of our engagement. Long distance phone calls (remember those) were expensive (by 1975 standards!), so we wrote letters. Boy, did we write letters!
Over the course of the weekend at Seaside, working diligently we managed to read all the letters – from the month of December! Over another weekend we read the remaining letters – through January and February! We were only able to get through two months of letters that time because 1) February is a short month, and 2) I’d gone to Houston for a visit during which we didn’t write anything for a few days! We have March and April still to go!
We’ve laughed, and winced, and rolled our eyes (and covenanted to burn these things before they fall into the hands of our posterity!).
But one thing that stands out in bright lights is that we were in love, and far from caring if anybody knew it, we wanted everyone to know it! Especially Ann did, as an attractive, single girl working in a big city, where the dating scene was hot and even at work there were pressures on her to compromise her standards. When she was able to announce our engagement and to keep talking about her fiancé, she was able to ward off unwanted advances and thoroughly nip in the bud any temptations. For my part, I found other girls less and less attractive, was able to boast about my soon-to-be-trophy-wife (actually, I’m not sure that was a thing, yet), and my letters were full of my perceptions of my perfect bride. HINT: There is a parable here.
You may have noticed: recently there was a “royal wedding”. A dude named Harry and a chick named Meghan, I think. How could you not notice?!? The world loved their love story, and was fascinated to discover all the rules and regulations that Meghan had to follow as she became a royal bride. In the midst of stress and drama, and foibles, though, the couple seemed to make it clear that they were in love with each other, no matter what.
The Bible teaches that we are the Bride of Christ. The great hope of the Church is His imminent return for her, and the subsequent “marriage supper of the Lamb”. We are made perfect in Him, washed by His blood, dressed in His righteousness and the fine linen of the righteous deeds of the saints (Revelation 19).
Jesus said the world would know we are His by our love for one another. He also told us that if we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments. We are His trophy bride – won at the cross. I dare say, He is ‘bragging’ about us, His one true love. But we rarely speak of Him that way. Don’t we more often treat him like our employer (we work for him), more than our fiancé? It seems like we ponder the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) and how we’ll measure up, more than we concentrate on getting ready for our (very) Royal wedding. How often do we act and talk like we’re in love with Jesus? I’m embarrassed! Could it be, we’re only secretly engaged?!?