It is a strange thing that I should be married. One of the great inexplicable facts of the universe is how I might have come to find a woman who thinks I am funny, who thinks I am mature and who thinks I am cute – all the time. But I have. That’s right up there with quasars, dark matter and black holes if you ask me.
Five years ago today, Kristi and I exchanged our vows before family, friends and the people of God at Grandville Baptist Church in Grandville, Michigan. Today, those vows hang by our front door with signatures of our immediate family and those who stood with us on that day.
In honor of these five years, this weekend Kristi and I made a trip to Chicago. This is the city where we met. This is the city where we dated, enjoyed a thousand walks and shared a thousand of our first conversations. This is also the city where I asked Kristi to marry me.
In the course of our visit we had the opportunity to speak with a number of people important to us, one of whom had a distinctive role in our meeting as a couple.
Kristi and I strolled past one of the education buildings at Moody Bible Institute when out shot Dr. Cornman. Like many faculty and members of the administration, Dr. Cornman rides in on the train and he leaves on the train. He was on his way home. Thankfully, he leaves with some extra time and had the chance to share a few moments with us.
Me: “Dr. Cornman! You know you had something to do with this right? Kristi and I had all of our classes together because you designed and coordinated that ‘first year experience’ group (Kristi and I were part of a pilot program that had a group of 30 incoming freshmen take all of their first year classes together).
Dr. Cornman: “I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
Me: “Oh, whatever.”
Dr. Cornman: “Dr. McDuffee and I designed that program on a napkin while flying into Chicago.”
So there you have it, folks. It all started on a napkin.
I can remember seeing Kristi for the first time on that first day of freshman orientation. She was the modest, pleasant, curly haired gem whose parents would probably think I was a little to crazy for the product of their great care and investment. I believe I was wearing a tie-dyed shirt. Over the course of that year Kristi and I had all of our classes together but talked on only one occasion…and it was awkward. I believe I asked where she was from. She told me, “Michigan.” That was the extent of our conversation. On another occasion, according to Kristi, I was sitting behind her and asked, “Can I touch your hair, its cool.”
Wow. I can’t believe I said that.
But it was cool. Kristi has unusually naturally curly hair. What I didn’t know is that her hair was wasn’t always so beautiful. For much of her life Kristi’s hair was a point of great embarrassment before her peers. Only on her way into college was she beginning to flower and there I was to land that first compliment. She was flattered.
Of course, an anniversary provides an occasion to reflect on those years that led up to our marriage, but it also provides an occasion for reflecting on the years since our marriage.
Marriage has provided the opportunity to see our hearts in full color. If I have a particular sin – be it pride, lust, greed, anger, impatience, or whatever – it shows up in the mirror of my wife’s face and happiness. It also works the other way around. As those united in marriage we are united in every emotion the other feels and decision the other makes. We hurt each other and we hurt for each other. That’s marriage.
Through our marriage we have been humbled by the grace of God that extends even to us, great sinners that we are. As Scripture says, “God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We are two sinners indeed.
But we are sinners transformed by the gospel of God’s grace, which is the most important thing we have in common. When this life is over, so will be our marriage. If one of us dies young, the other may very well marry another person. We belong to one another for now, but we belong ultimately and eternally to God through Jesus Christ. Together we share a foretaste of the joy that will be ours when we see Christ in all his glory. May our enjoyment of Christ’s glory throughout eternity be enhanced by the portion of eternity that we share with one another on this side of death.
When you think of us, praise God for saving us from sin and death and hell through Jesus Christ, and pray for our faithfulness to him in the years that we have together.