During a recent worship service at Carter Creek Baptist Church, the pastor, Bro. Butch, recognized a couple who were celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary. Larry and Brenda Vincent, members at Carter Creek, have spent over six decades loving, serving and caring for one another.
It was what Pastor Butch said next that stuck with me. After recognizing the couple and asking them to stand he said, “Thank you for showing us how to do it.” He was thanking this godly couple for being a model to others in the congregation.
Carter Creek is a country church in Muhlenberg County, Ky., with 130-150 Sunday morning worshippers in attendance. In that crowd is a mix of people from every age group. There are single people and married ones, couples who are newly married and others who have been married for a long time. Those couples, and others in churches across Kentucky, benefit from seeing marriages like the one being lived out by the Vincents.
What can we learn from long-term marriages?
1. We learn to give and receive love: Those who have been married more than a year have had to learn by necessity that love is not only an emotion, it is also a choice. Knowing that in Christ we can choose to love another person sets us free from needing our spouse to be perfect in every way. Because of Jesus’ love for us, we can learn to love the spouse God has given us.
2. We learn to forgive and receive forgiveness: Ruth Graham, who was married to evangelist Billy Graham for over 60 years, said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Mrs. Graham understood that married couples will disappoint each other, and even sin against one another. The most unhappy marriage imaginable is one where forgiveness is not given or received. By watching others who have navigated the sometimes-stormy waters of marriage, we learn to forgive the one we love.
3. We learn to serve God together: I saw a plaque in the home of a friend that says, “Marriage Takes Three.” The plaque is a reminder that we need Jesus at the center of our marriage. As we grow closer to Christ, we also grow closer to each other. One way we grow closer to Jesus is by serving him through a local church. The couple we celebrated on that Sunday morning were not only married for six decades, but they have also served Jesus together for most of that time.
4. We learn to take care of each other: When a couple has spent six decades together, they have experienced not only joys and celebrations, but also trials and tribulations—one of which is likely to be declining health. A couple married that long shows us how to grow old together.
5. We learn to thank God for the gift of marriage: When I saw that couple standing together, leaning on one another, and holding hands, I was not only thankful for them, but also for Connie, the bride God gave me. Marriage is not a gift that every Christian receives, but those of us who have received it learn to thank God for it.
Praise God for couples like the Vincents, who by the grace of God have been loving, serving, forgiving and caring for each other for 62 years while serving the Lord together. Thank you, Larry and Brenda Vincent, and couples like them in Baptist churches all over Kentucky, for showing us how to do it.