"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Lasting Legacy

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1
The young couple met in high school and began a cycle of dating and break ups.  I’ve lost track how many.  He was a grade ahead than she and graduated from Breo-Olinda High School in 1959.  They finally stopped breaking up and tied the knot March 24, 1961.  Their old high school has since been torn down and rebuilt elsewhere in the town of Brea paving the way for city expansion on that hallowed ground where they first met. And, while the old B-O gymnasium where she watched him play basketball is history, their marriage of 50 years is still standing.
It’s a miracle, really. I’m sure they’d both admit it. Dad’s parents died when he was a young boy, leaving him an orphan bouncing between relatives. Aside from his older brother by 10 years, he had no significant father figure in his life to show him how to be a man, a strong family leader. Mom’s family was dysfunctional. With an alcoholic father and a mom who managed to hold the family together, she also didn’t have a great picture of family life. And, while both families had respect for God, they didn’t claim to live for Him. So, with a shaky foundation, they began their life together…young and in love.
They could’ve been a divorce statistic, but they’re not. A few years and a couple of kids into their married life, mom was introduced to Jesus and decided He was worth following. Dad saw Billy Graham on television one night and made the same decision. They began a legacy like Ruth did turning her back on her Moab roots and following Naomi’s God. Dad and mom moved out of California to the foreign land of Oregon to raise their family. They never looked back, and it’s made all the difference in their marriage, their kids and their grandchildren.
I’m not saying they didn’t struggle. They fussed and fought, bickered and battled. Months and sometimes years of striving ensued. I would hear their fighting from my downstairs bedroom and fear divorce. I know I didn’t understand all that was occurring. Perhaps financial strain and my dad’s traveling a lot at the time contributed to the tension. Other times stand out in my memory as desperate attacks from the enemy to destroy my parent’s marriage.  In spite of all the torment during those horrible times, my parent’s stuck together like glue. They arose from that period of time like David after killing Goliath.  Through those challenging times, their marriage became unshakeable, impenetrable, indestructible.
Lest you form a picture in your mind of all war and no peace, that is not the case. I simply do not desire to deceive you with 50 years of wedded bliss. Foremost in my growing up years, however, are portraits of my parent’s love and affection for each other. They hugged and kissed each other everyday, much to my chagrin. “Oooh, gross,” the three of us would say. Those three little words, ‘I love you,’ were shared between them each day. They were nuts about each other and made sure we knew it. Their relationship was always first. Commitment to staying married through the ebbs and flows of love became their goal. With their unstable family history, they placed preeminence on building a Godly foundation in their marriage. No examples from the past to follow, they began a legacy of Christian values for their family. Like the pioneers who traversed the west conquering winter elements, gigantic mountains and fierce enemies, they persevered paving the way for those of us who follow them.
How grateful I am for this shining example in my life. In a world that dumps marriage as easily as dinner leftovers, my parent’s marriage stands as a beacon of hope for those who persist despite the odds. I, too, want to be counted in that esteemed group who love, cherish and honor their spouse through thick and thin, babies and teens, gray and bald. You go, mom and dad, we’re right behind you, following in your footsteps!
“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:18

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