Sunday, August 09, 2009

"We've Only Just Begun"

35 years ago on August 3, 1974 Cindy and I were married. By today’s standards it was a very simple Hawaiian wedding. There must have been many skeptics in that church that watched a skinny 19-year-old kid marry a blue-eyed blonde 17-year-old on that humid Honolulu August afternoon.

Our theme song was the Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun” played skillfully by Ohta-San on his ukulele. The first few years of our marriage it was probably our young love and stubborn pride, to prove those skeptics wrong, that motivated us. But in the majority of these past 35 years it has been utter dependence upon God that has pulled us through. After four kids and many ups and downs our love has grown far deeper and stronger than it was on that day those 35 years ago.

I recently read something that really encouraged me about the power of marriage for personal transformation. Martin Luther, who came from the monastery into marriage wrote, “When it comes to our sanctification, one year of marriage is worth 10 years of the monastery!” I have never been in a monastery but I have been married and this must be true (no offense to you monks out there!).

Why has marriage been so good for us and for all who can stick with it? Marriage is about two selfish human beings forced to learn much that we couldn’t have learned as effectively in any other way…to give, to serve, to sacrifice, to forebear and to forgive.

Last Sunday, the day before our anniversary, our oldest daughter, Heidi and her family came over for the afternoon to beat the heat and have dinner with us. Afterwards we all watched an old video of our family from about 17 years ago after the birth of our youngest child, Holly. I was feeling pretty nostalgic after seeing that. I was feeling the best years are behind us. “If we could only have just ‘frozen time’ wouldn’t that have been great?” When I brought that up to Cindy, who was sleep deprived through many of those years, she thought I had gone a bit crazy. She reminded me that as we are facing our empty nest years we still have much to look forward to…like each of our children starting their own families and seeing our grandkids grow up (and not being too tired to enjoy them!).

She is right. But I have to admit that there is something in me that longs for even more than seeing our kids find their way in the world and hopefully seeing our grandchildren multiply someday. As I am increasingly aware of the acceleration of passing of time and one generation giving way to another, I am reminded that our family life is just a foretaste of what we are destined to enjoy throughout eternity. In our heavenly home there will be no more sad goodbyes.

I also know that even if our marriage or family life here on earth is deeply satisfying it still cannot meet our deepest longings. When I remember this, no matter how many years of marriage I have already experienced with Cindy, I can still expectantly say, “We’ve only just begun.”

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Carri said...

Loved the marriage piece!

Anonymous said...


Risako and I have some similarities in our marriage. God's grace and pure stubbornness had gotten us a long way. Perseverance is now leading to some great character developments.

Continue to write these great posts. I will share them on facebook


Tim Olson said...


Fun to read about your wedding! Congratulations and Happy Anniversary. We hit #33 this December. Pray that God continues to bless your marriage, your family and your ministry.

Tim Olson

Brad said...


It is great to read about your blessed life together with your wife. My wife and I have been praying and sharing with my boy 20 and 18 about marriage and when is the time. I don't want to let the world or my self put up artificial barriers that prevent them from getting married. I think many are waiting way to long. Interesting to see the recent articles on not waiting to long addressed in It would be interesting to hear more about how you made the decision to get married and what you think some of the keys to success.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Brad (and Tim, Max and Carri!) I really believe that with the divorce epidemic there is a false view that delaying marriage, living together etc. but statistics don't bear that out. I believe that having a common faith in God and commitment to the marriage no matter what gives any marriage a real chance to weather the inevitable storms it will face.

Looking back, we are amazed at how young we were when we got married and know that marrying that young carries certain risks.

But in my opinion, the problem with looking for the "ideal time" is that it never really comes. Late teens/early twenties you are too immature and if you wait till the late twenties or thirties then you become to set in your ways to change, to give and take in a lifelong relationship.

We need to pray for our kids to find the right mate but I believe that it is even more important to BECOME the right mate rather than FIND the right mate..and we can only learn some of those "becoming" lessons through being married.-Jamie

Chris L. said...

What a beautiful tribute and a wonderful message. Thanks for sharing it with a guy whose only been married 32 Years to his lovely bride.

Anonymous said...

Jamie, Thanks for your insight. I really appreciate the comment about even the most satisfying marriage and family life can't satisfy our deepest longings. I've found comfort in that idea many times, especialy at times when I'm feeling like my needs aren't being met. Well guess what? They often won't be. At times like that I'm encouraged by what an awesome savior I have in Christ.

Jon Otto