Today Joe and I are celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary in a peaceful hideaway on the Northern California Coast. I am awake early, watching the sun cast its gentle glow over the waves as they meander to the shore. While Joe sleeps in – a luxury that only vacations seem to afford – I am relishing the wonder of the love we have shared these many years. He is such gift to me, and once again I have given thanks while telling the Lord of how I’ll never understand why He chose to grant me the blessing of a life with this amazing man.
As I considered all the things I am grateful for about Joe, I found myself pondering the one thing I would like to tell him today. There are so many great qualities – he’s caring, gentle, hard-working, always a servant – the list goes on. But in the end, the one thing I will always be in awe of is the way Joe loves me without condition. I’m keenly aware of my weaknesses and irritating idiosyncrasies, and have ministered in enough troubled marriages to know that this is no small feat. I don’t know how he does it, but somehow my husband has always believed in me, expected wonderful things from me and cheered me on to greater challenges in character and accomplishment. Yet, there has never been one moment when I’ve felt the pressure to perform or the need to be something other than what I am. In all these 36 plus years, I have felt absolutely free to live in my own skin, warts and all. This is an astounding gift, and pure grace.
I share this private and precious reality because I realized that this quality in Joe so perfectly radiates the heart of Christ for us all. Jesus wants the best, believes the best, and expects the best from each of us, but never hits us over the head with it. He never withholds His love and affection because we aren’t living up to our potential or pursuing change with sufficient diligence. Our Lord simply walks beside us, fully accepting, always loving and gladly cheering us on with confidence; so that all we can do is respond with humble gratitude.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all grant such a gift to each other? This is the takeaway I hope you’ll get from my little tribute. Think of the people in your life today – how can you extend to them the full force of unwavering, expectant love, which has no strings attached? To be honest, this quality seems to have been a part of my husband since the day I met him, but it doesn’t come quite so easily for me. Still, I want to press into this more, for I believe it so deeply pleases the Lord who made us to display His glory in every relationship.
I’m off to spend the day with my beloved husband now. Joe, I hope I’ve honored you in some small measure with these words, although I’m well aware that public acclaim is the last thing you’re interested in. Still, happy anniversary love of my life – thank you with all of my heart for 36 incredible years.