Next week my wife and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary. How did this happen? Where did the years go? I always thought people who reached their 50th were old. Why aren’t we?

On Dec. 21, 1968, we exchanged vows. I lifted her veil, kissed her and we left the altar hand-in-hand to start a journey that has spanned half a century. Apollo 8 launched the day we were married, the first manned flight to leave earth’s orbit. Neither of us imagined the journey we started that day would take us “to the moon and back.” Or so it seems.

We have embraced orphans in Brazil and fished for piranha on the Amazon; sipped coffee in the mountains of Guatemala and the coast of Colombia; stood at the pyramids in Egypt, the same structures that greeted Abraham and Sarah; visited Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in Australia; stood on the rocky shore of New Zealand; watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace; viewed Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistene Chapel and visited St Peter’s Basilica; walked along the canals of Venice; stood on the mountains overlooking Salzburg; watched the striking of the clock in Prague; spent a summer in Nuremburg and rode the trains across Bavaria; visited Luther’s House in Wittenburg and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s home in Berlin; toured Lenin’s tomb in Moscow and the DMZ between North and South Korea; stood on the shore where the tsunami hit Banda Ache, Indonesia. We have walked where Jesus walked, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

You can go a lot of places and see a lot of things in 50 years.

We have experienced sorrow and loss, the death of parents and loved ones. We have wept beside their caskets, said our goodbyes and comforted one another. We have known discouragement and disappointment. We have celebrated victory and accomplishment. We have wondered in awe at the miracle of children and grandchildren. We have experienced God’s presence, seen His glory and worshipped in many languages.

Words that once were vague concepts have gathered meaning and depth. God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah have become charged with meaning and memory: “Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land which I shall show you … and I will bless you … and I will make you a blessing.”

At our wedding my college roommate sang “Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us.” It is still our song.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;

In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;

Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;

Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and pow’r to free.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;

Blessed Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.

Our faith, our gratitude and our love for one another is far deeper than it was on that day we started our journey 50 years ago. We know that old age will come, dying will come and our parting will come. But we know better than we knew in our youth that His grace is sufficient. His promise is true. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.

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