This morning I stumbled across an article about another beautiful couple, 91- and 93-year-old Bill and Doris Barr from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They've been married for 66 years. Doris was diagnosed with Alzheimer's almost twenty years ago and Bill has been her primary caretaker for the bulk of those years. Just five years ago she moved into a care home, but Bill visits her almost every day, eating lunch with her, feeding her, telling her about news in the family, and singing to her.
He said, "When the minister said, 'For better or for worse, or rich or for poor, in sickness and in health,' I meant it. And she meant it."
I love these stories desperately. And I'm not alone. We have a cultural love of the long-term romance. We delight in seeing elderly couples displaying affection, holding hands, still together after so many years.
And I believe a reason we love that so much is because we feel its elusiveness.
Bill and Doris' granddaughter Lianne Pereux stated this outright: "It's hard to believe that 66 years, people can be together and still be as in love [on] the day they got married as 66 years later. It's really hard to imagine that and, for me, they've always been role models."
We live in a culture where faithfulness has been replaced by fickleness. Long-term romances are fascinating to us in a science project sort of way. It's lovely ... but weird. How did they do it? What was the formula? Because we want it too. Divorce and crumbling relationships surround us yet unfailingly make us sad (need I say Brangelina?). We crave a better way.
I think our love of these relationships echoes a deeper cry in our hearts for everlasting faithfulness. We want someone who will never, ever let us down or disappoint us.
I believe these relationships echo a longing for a relationship with our Creator.
We want to be seen, to be known, and to be loved unceasingly forever. Christians have that in the unwavering covenant love of God. He will never divorce us, never die, never leave us. He is always there to protect, care, forgive, and love -- perfectly.
The longest, most faithful marriage relationship on earth is only a flickering image of our relationship with God. Even the best marriage is between two sinners and so marred with sin. Not so with God. "His love never fails, it never gives up. It never runs out on me." It is eternally faithful.
As I think about those sweet Jays fans and the beautiful Barr couple, I am happy to see their faithfulness. But I am also sad to see the effects of sin on their love stories. Yet I am hopeful as I think about what these relationships point to -- the soul-satisfying, unbreakable, endlessly faithful love the God of the universe has for me.
Photo courtesy of Chilanga Cement and Flickr Creative Commons.