Ever have one of those moments in which you were deeply blessed – but it took years (maybe even decades) to appreciate the abundance of grace that had just been poured out on your life?
My all-time favorite is January 17, 1975. That’s the day I met Gerri Reiker – the sweet young beautiful co-ed who would a few years later become my wife.
I’ve been thinking about that chance encounter, oh-so-long-ago, because today we celebrate our 34th anniversary. And I know now – with the benefit of hindsight – what a profound blessing Gerri has become for me. I can’t imagine life without her.
My life – how it would have turned out differently during the past three decades-plus, if Gerri hadn’t been there to calm my fears, to smooth my rough edges, to bless my reluctance, or to forgive my trespasses (again and again and again and again). What a grace she is…what a Christ-bearer she is…to everyone she encounters. But especially to me. She is quite literally God’s gift to me.
And it happened in moment. Or at least the seed for all that abundant grace was planted in a moment. I was the new kid in town back in ’75 – a mid-year transfer into Saint Louis University – and I knew almost no one in the dorm. I’d gone alone to the cafeteria for the evening meal, in search of a friendly face. And there Gerri was, with a couple of other young ladies from her floor – one of whom I knew a little from class.
A chance encounter. A blessed coincidence. But here I am – 39 years removed from that fleeting moment of grace in my life – thinking I should maybe break out in song, right along with Blake Shelton…
There’s more here than what were seeing
A divine conspiracy
That you, an angel lovely
Could somehow fall for me
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
And for when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you
Last night, as we celebrated our special day by dining at one of our favorite restaurants, I got to thinking how very appropriate it was: How we had pretty much come full circle in our lives – from a chance meeting over dinner in the dorm…to a leisurely and delectable love feast at LoRusso’s to mark our anniversary. We’re both a little wiser than we were back then, I hope. And perhaps a little worse for the wear.
But mostly, we decided that we’re profoundly grateful for the past 39 years together – and certainly delighted by the family that has grown out of our 34 years of married life.
We’re grateful that God has answered prayers we didn’t even know how to speak as 18- and 19-year-olds. God has taken us places…and offered us adventures…and thrilled us with surprises…far beyond our ability to imagine back in 1975.
‘The Almighty has done great things for us,’ indeed.