Dear Mom & Dad,
Today marks the 30th anniversary of your wedding vows. What a ride life has taken you on; the twists and turns in the plot of your story make Dickens, Austen, and Tolkien look like they were writing “See Dick Run” books. Ups & downs. Riches & poverty (but mostly poverty). Good times & bad.
Through it all, together.
Together is a good word isn’t it?
It speaks at once of the unity and diversity that makes Christian marriage so glorious. It denotes that there are different & separate entities, but somehow united. As Christians we know that the one who does the uniting isn’t a priest, magistrate, or even the couple; but rather “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Mk. 10:9).”
I’ve been there for a large portion of those 30 years. Four years into my own marriage, my appreciation, respect, and admiration for your faithfulness to each other has only been augmented and deepened. Neither of you have been perfect, but together you both gave me–and my brothers and sisters–the nearest picture of God’s perfect plan for mankind.
A husband and wife in marriage reminds us of the Eden lost and–for the New Testament age–the promised Eden to come; we see two separate entities joined in one happy state. Heaven & earth, God & man, (though still distinct) were once perfectly united. The fall bungled that. But in Christ, God and man are reunited, the Kingdom of Heaven is permeating earth and will do so until it covers the earth as water covers the sea.
Dad, thanks for going to work every day, to provide for us, clothing and feeding us by the long hours at a desk; planning lesson outlines, meeting with troubled teens, or leading those crazy youth all-nighters! Or even further back, rising when it was still dark to shine your boots to serve our country. In more recent years, thank you for sticking to it, even when dreams fell apart, the path got hard to make out, sickness hampered progress, and youthful energy began its decline.
Mom, thanks for seeing the folly of government run education and determining to raise your children to know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Your patience with me alone is deserving of a presidential medal of honor, not to mention the other kiddos that you are still homeschooling! Crazy! Your doggedness for truth and honor have made me the man I am; and inspired many souls to seek more fervently after the Lord Jesus.
Your 30 years together have blessed hundreds if not thousands of lives. Now, especially through your children and grandchildren, that tally will only continue to grow exponentially. A hundred years from now there will be little children with the last name Zornes, who will trace their lineage to your faithfulness. Because you have been loyal to follow God’s Word in raising your children, there is His promise to bless your children, and children’s children.
Those Zornes, a century from now, will–by God’s grace–go to church, worship God, read their Bibles, and then when they are grown, start godly families of their own; and, again, all because Amy was the only girl who could return Tom’s volleyball serve!
I’ve watched you both face the trials and remain unflinching. I’ve watched as the trials have grown larger, harder, more subtle even, and still you’ve stayed together; counting God’s Word of greater authority than your own convenience, feelings, or comfort. You’ve stared down cancer, financial trials, the buzz-saw of church politics, a rascally son like me, and job uncertainty with faith in the Lord.
You may have wobbled and wavered, teetered and tottered, but here you are with 30 years of loyal love and a godly heritage to show for your selflessness, and sacrifice. Even sinful mistakes have, by grace alone, been used by God to correct, warn, and instruct our whole family. Like John Newton said in his fine hymn, Begone Unbelief:
Since all that I meet shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet, the medicine is food;
Though painful at present, wilt cease before long,
And then, O! how pleasant, the conqueror’s song!
As I’ve reflected on how to thank you, a memory came to my mind. We were on vacation in Southern Colorado (the trip that was Scooby’s last). We needed a night in a hotel, but I’m sure that the budget was tight (as it usually was). I remember that we stopped at a payphone (kids, that was a thing in 90s), probably to find a nearby vet (Scooby was in a bad way).
One or both of you just made a statement to the effect that God would provide for us and our needs, and then dad went to the payphone to make his call. When he came back, he was grinning from ear to ear; he had found four $20 bills sitting in the phonebook … enough for a night at Motel 6! It is a thousand moments like that–all of us together, mom & dad trusting God to take care of us–that have made me into the man I am, inspired me to become an even better one, and given me a model for what I want my little family to be.
Your togetherness has not only made me, it also shaped me…and most of the godly attributes in my life are directly because of the grace given to me through witnessing the faithful marriage of my parents. I got to sit on the front seat of two imperfect people, showing me the perfect picture of Christ and the Church; and largely by your love & togetherness, I came to love Christ and His Church
If the first 30 years together have been this good, just think what the next chapter holds?!