“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1 ESV).

Marriage.

That day a couple says, “I do”–it’s like stepping out in faith to walk on water, is it not?

Promising to love…

In sickness and in health,

In wealth or in poverty,

For better or for worse.

It’s all quite easy on that blissful day, when starry-eyed lovers can’t see beyond the moment, surrounded by friends and family, dressed to the nines in celebratory finery.

But then sickness sets in.

One or the other loses a job.

Expectations aren’t met and the grass begins to look greener.

What then?

Just check out the statistics to see, it happens too often, to too many.

More than half of all married couples find themselves divorced, though most (if not all) started out starry-eyed lovers–believing they’d beat the odds…

Till death they do part.

Today, Bill and I are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary. That’s three decades and several years. 12, 045 days, in fact–which, all counted, adds up to 289,080 hours… 17,344,800 minutes… 1.040688e9 seconds. (That’s exactly what my calculator says!)

Summed up–That’s a lot!

But even more, what struck me today, that which made me take pause and consider the magnitude–we’ve been married as long as our Savior lived. Jesus–who came as a baby and grew to be a boy. Who went through puberty, grew facial hair, and experienced his voice changing. Who woke up a man who knew he had work to do and, at the age of thirty, set out to complete the task for which he’d come. Who then, along with several close companions, ministered for three years–healing the sick. Freeing the captive. Loving on lepers and others deemed unlovable. Valuing children and women in a society that often overlooked them. And finally, dying a criminals’ death to conquer sin and, in doing so, establishing eternal life for those who call on his name and confess that he is Lord.

Then, after three days, Jesus rose again. And now he’s preparing a place for us, that we might all be with him… one day.

That’s what we believe, and seeing our life together–these 33 years–compared to the sum of our Savior’s… well, it puts things in perspective somehow.

After all,¬†Jesus, too, walked on water. And he said we could as well–if we just keep our eyes on him. He promised, in fact–no matter what. Indeed–

In sickness and in health,

In wealth or in poverty,

For better or for worse.

And I believe that’s what’s made the difference for us, and perhaps it would make the difference for others also. It’s not that Bill and I haven’t faced hard times, times when–

Sickness set it…

One of us faced a career crisis that threatened…

Expectations weren’t met and the grass looked greener.

But Bill told me long ago, only a year or two into our marriage, in fact, “Divorce is not an option. Remove that word from our vocabulary and work. It won’t always be easy but we’ll be thankful.”

And we are–all these imperfect years later. We’d have it no other way. We’ll work on our relationship and, in turn, work in the world to do what Jesus did…

Until death we do part.

To cast one’s bread upon the waters,¬†as the wise King Solomon once wrote, is explained like this–

An expression describing a business venture–like investing and taking risks, perhaps in ocean-going trade… Though the world is uncertain and humans cannot control what happens, it is still better to take action than to be paralyzed with fear and do nothing (from the NIV Quest Study Bible, p. 971).

And doesn’t this also speak perfectly to entering in to the covenant of marriage?

Life is uncertain, and we cannot control every outcome. Still, stepping out by faith onto the waters with another, with the one you love?

And when couples keep their eyes on Jesus, the One who walks on the waters with us? Well, even through storms, they’re promised not to sink.

Thank you, Bill, for always walking with me. For never giving up on me. For always believing with me, hoping with me, and, above all, for always, always loving me. I’m the one who’s abundantly blessed, and I love you more. Happy “life of Jesus”–with Jesus–anniversary! You were right–I’m so very thankful, and I’ve loved ministering to others by your side all these years. You are the hands and feet of Christ, and I pray I get to walk beside you for thirty-three more.

Thank you, Jesus, for setting a beautiful example of what the abundant life looks like, even in suffering. May our marriage bring You glory and be of benefit to the world, until You return. Amen.