December 19th was the twentieth anniversary of my marriage to JoAnn. We were married in the Broadway Baptist Church of Houston, Texas at 2:00 p.m. on an afternoon when the skies opened and the rain poured down. It was raining so hard during our ceremony that we had to circle the sanctuary when it was over, in order to go out the side door into the hallway that led to the fellowship hall, rather than standing on the steps outside the church. When we woke up Wednesday morning, it was to the sound of thunder and rain.
I had just finished my first semester at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth. JoAnn lived in Houston. The day before our wedding, I had a final exam that didn’t end until noon, and had a 2:00 flight from Love Field to Houston. I scooted through the gate with just minutes left to spare. From there, it was a race to make it to the courthouse to get a license by 5:00 p.m. We made that with just minutes to spare, as well. We spent our “honeymoon” in Huntsville, during a brief break in the process of moving JoAnn’s things from her apartment in Pasadena to mine on the seminary campus. Outside of Texas, that doesn’t get much of a reaction, but Texans tend to giggle a bit when we tell them we went to Huntsville for our honeymoon. For non-Texans, that is the location of the main state prison. And while there are some who may equate marriage with prison, I haven’t had that experience in mine.
We were both on the job on Wednesday, so we planned to celebrate this anniversary today, by treating ourselves to a night in a Galveston hotel right on the beach, and a nice, seaside dinner. As I write this, I am looking out over the balcony of our room at the dark waters of the Gulf of Mexico, listening to the surf on the beach, and generally thinking about how blessed I have been in my marriage, in my ministry, and in my life. We have been through some hard times, because of our chosen careers, we are not accumulating wealth or possessions, though we are privileged to own a modest home and our furniture and one of our cars are paid for, and we have our needs met. We are blessed.
Tonight, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are peaceful, the waves are gently washing up on the beach. I am reminded, as I often am when I come here at night, and the water is dark, of Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and empty,and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”