My wife and I met and married under circumstances that led my mother to declare it wouldn’t last six months.
Well, that was 38 years ago. What has happened during that time is that instead of being torn apart by those inevitable difficult times that are a part of any marriage of any length, our marriage has been strengthened with those rough spots working like glue to bind us ever closer and to shape our relationship into deep, abiding love rather than mere affection.
I have long since passed into the phase of life that officially declares me to be a senior citizen. The result has been to give me the freedom to look back across the long, winding years of our life together and to indulge in some serious retrospection and introspection.
Reviewing our long, rewarding history together today, I have drawn one inescapable conclusion: God’s hand has been on it from the beginning and at every crucial moment along the way.
I draw that conclusion because no other explanation is possible, at least from my vantage point. At every pivotal point in our life together, some action that can be explained only by divine intervention has taken place that changed our life’s course, rescued us from ourselves and our mistakes, and left our life together richer, more rewarding, and more exciting.
Two particular instances come immediately to mind.
The time, for instance, my wife and I were sitting in our home in Perry, Ga., discussing whether or not I should leave a church that had been established for more than a hundred years and start my own independent, nondenominational church. Considering the circumstances at the time, it wasn’t a willy-nilly decision even if it did appear one step short of outright insanity right then.
As we were sitting there discussing and listing what our options were (There weren’t many.) and feeling pretty stressed and a bit desperate, the phone rang. A family from the church was calling, part of a group that had been meeting for some time once a week at a local restaurant to sing and worship. In effect, they had made the crucial decision to secede, and they offered me a job as the pastor of the new church they would form.
In what in all honesty seemed at that moment like just about the most foolish decision I had ever made, I said, ‘Yes.’ So what happened? The following Sunday in front of a tiny rented club house a fellow worshiper and I stood out front and wondered somewhat fretfully if anyone at all would show up. They did. Just under one hundred strong.
And they brought every talent we needed to form a live, ongoing congregation. A choir director and a choir, a group of young people to start a youth program, a dedicated congregation. And a pastor, of course.
In only a few years from that day, we bought property and built a church.
God’s hand, people.
In retrospect, I also find God’s hand on the day my wife and I decided to leave Georgia and move to parts unknown, also known as Christiansburg. We had wearied of Perry and had discussed such a move for some time but had never been able to make it for one reason or another, mostly having to do with a less than minor hindrance having to do with jobs and a place to live. We were on vacation, headed to Florida and raw oysters, and sitting in a place called the Wooden Nickel Pub eating lunch on a Sunday when my wife’s cell phone rang. This was Sunday now, and we were down in extreme South Georgia, only a few miles from the Florida line and hundreds of miles from anything remotely resembling Virginia.
And now, suddenly, the voice on the other side of the phone calling on the one day no one should have been working offered her a job teaching with the Montgomery County Public School System. He had reviewed the application she had provided, though she hadn’t sent it to his desk and how it got there remains a mystery whose only answer lies in God’s intervention, and he was suitably impressed. Didn’t surprise me any.
We made the move even though I didn’t have a job. The job I would have was held at the time by the then-editor of the News Messenger and the Radford News Journal. So what happened? It seems the lady’s husband had landed a job in North Carolina, and she decided to follow him. I then met with the publisher for an interview to fill the vacated post, and I got a job I technically didn’t even apply for. God’s hand again, people.
I believe it.
The author is a man of a certain age who has seen his long life unfold as one blessing after another and who thanks God every day for those blessings.