I stepped from the evening cold into a room warmed by the stove in the corner, and by the welcome of a pastor for over 50 years. I sought writing insights from Danny, who is my predecessor in writing a column for the local paper. As we sat by his wall of well-used books, I listened to his heart for people as he shared his story. 

 I finally asked about the subject at hand, love and marriage. “Well, marriage is of God, instituted before the church,” he started. I injected, “Tell me about you and Regina?” 

 “I asked God to give me someone to love, and to be loved by.” Danny doubts the notion of ‘falling in love,’ but believes that God chose Regina for him. Perhaps evidence for that was their first outing together, a double date when he thought he was paired with the other girl! But it was Regina that sat next to him in the car, and the rest is history. 

 “Well, marriage is about leaving, cleaving, and weaving.” What a wordsmith! Actually that comes from Scripture: “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Stories from his life unpack that idea. 

 He and his young family left parents, church, and Fannin County in a U-Haul and VW after church one Sunday night, moving to New Orleans so he could attend seminary. Leaving means starting a new life together, finding your own way. 

 “Everything we have done, we have done together.” Cleaving is having Regina as his partner in life and ministry, so she is always close by. In a service, they usually sit together until sermon time. A friend dubbed their pew ‘the love seat!’ Stepping into the pulpit, he will “look for God, then Regina” before he starts. 

 Sometimes hardship weaves lives into one. It was hard to hear of his nearly tragic crash in a ’52 Ford with his expectant wife and son. But through it, God firmly called them into their life’s work. “I can see the hand of God at work in difficulties, learning the lessons of life.” Good times and bad weave lives into one. 

 Please don’t let this example of a long, loving marriage cause you regrets. Danny has seen “so many people thrown on the scrapheap of life.” No, this example of a faithful relationship gives hope that the love of God is real, and can reach into our world and even touch you. The New Testament uses marriage to teach about Christ’s love for his church. You are included in that great love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall…have eternal life.” 

 Pondering 55 years of marriage, Danny declares, “I love her far more today than when we first married.” Still weaving, I suppose. Happy Valentine’s Day!