Joyce and I want to express our deepest appreciation for all of the expressions of love we received in the celebrations of our 40th wedding anniversary and our 25th anniversary of serving with the members of First Baptist Church of Yoakum. I never felt comfortable about being “honored,” because I didn’t consider either of the two events accomplishments. They were results of God’s grace working in and through a husband and wife and a pastor and a congregation. But celebration was more than appropriate, because we were celebrating what God has done, rather than what Richard and Joyce have done.
In a book I highly recommend, Upside-Down Spirituality: Th Nine Essential Failures of a Faithful Life, Chad Bird says the following about marriage, which (with a slight change to the wording) also applies to members of a local church:
“I’m a complete failure at modern, romantic, love-sustaining relationships. And I hope you’ll join me in being a blessed failure. Because in this failed state, we begin to realize that the wedded union of a man and woman—two people who are lifelong self-absorbed, self-protecting, self-centered sinners—will be unsustainable apart from Christ’s grace, his work, his protection, and his forgiveness. To paraphrase the insight of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, it is not love that sustains our marriages; it is marriage that sustains our love.” Bird, Chad. Upside-Down Spirituality (p. 125). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.