Twenty-One Years of Grace image

Twenty-One Years of Grace

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Today is my 21st wedding anniversary. Twenty-one years ago, on a typically English April day in which we seemed to experience all four seasons at once (including snow and sunshine), Grace and I promised faithfulness to one another until death do us part.

Probably my most frequently wheeled out teaching illustration is God’s grace to me in giving me a wife called Grace. I am with grace every day. I sleep with grace. Wake with grace. Eat with grace. This is not only a useful teaching illustration but very personal for me. I really am shaped by the reality of G/grace in my life.

Last year, as it was our twentieth, Grace and I went to Barcelona for the weekend to celebrate, but normally we don’t make a huge thing of our anniversaries. We acknowledge them and are glad for them, but don’t feel the need to unfurl the bunting. Today is a special day, but also a working day, a normal day. Grace will be teaching English at the boys grammar school where she works. I’ll be visiting the dentist, going to a pastors meeting, and working on Easter sermons. We’ll be parenting our kids – an increasingly complex and fun challenge with the passing years. This evening we will be at our life group with members of our church.

I’d really like to be in Barcelona again this weekend, but the very normality of today is in its way as good a way of marking our anniversary as a trip somewhere glamorous. For grace to be experienced as grace it needs to be lived in the ordinary – in a day by day appreciation of the mercies of God, and a day by day leaning into God for help in time of need.

I see grace in Grace constantly. It is there as we stack the dishwasher, or stand united in the face of a fractious teenager, or weed the garden, walk the dogs and pay our bills. Grace is all around us – it is cultivating an awareness of this grace that takes time and attention: just like a successful marriage.

As a pastor, and a friend, I sometimes get caught up in other relationships where grace appears to be lacking. Often this is because one partner or other has made the mistake of thinking their marriage should be all glamour and excitement. In failing to cultivate the ordinary they fail to see grace at work and make tragic shipwreck of what they have been entrusted by God. Too often I see people choose what the book of Proverbs would call folly and Jesus hard-heartedness and miss the grace that could be theirs.

The way of wisdom is to stay alert to grace, in every season and every weather. We look for the exotic, the new, the spectacular and think that there lies our salvation when in reality grace more often grows in the day by day. True grace is unto death: in fact, death is no match for it!

As well as being glad I’m married to Grace, I’m grateful our wedding anniversary falls so close to Easter. The spectacular has happened: Christ is risen! Now there is grace for everyday, and for me that includes Grace.

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