My bride put the ring on my finger a long time ago. I've never had if off since she put it there.
Then came the surgery a few weeks ago.
My first surgery ever. My rotator cuff basically wasn't there, my doctor said, and there was no choice but shoulder surgery.
Right before the "festivities" began, the doctor said I'd have to take off my wedding ring. First, the size of my knuckles these days meant it would have to be cut off. Second, with my wife's Homegoing to heaven just a year ago, that thought hit very hard.
But the risks of going into surgery with the ring on persuaded me that keeping it on was clearly unwise.
So, after I was sedated, they cut off the wedding ring I'd never removed.
Though we were young when we got married, we knew there would never be anyone else. Thus, the three little words engraved inside Karen's ring and mine:
"UNTIL JESUS COMES."
But something happened in that operating room that stunned me and our whole family.
There was no way the doctor could see where he was cutting the ring. Our first look at the ring brought tears to our eyes.
Not a letter of that cherished inscription was touched! My ring still says as it has since our wedding day...
UNTIL JESUS COMES.
It was as if God was saying. "The love of a lifetime is untouched and intact."
And though Karen is in heaven and I'm here, our love endures.
It struck me that God was the unseen witness at our little wedding on the south side of Chicago. As He is at every wedding.
He heard us pledging our undying love to one another. He heard what I promised Karen that day. He heard what Karen promised me, as well.
As He hears all the vows of every husband and wife.
At the very end of the Bible's Old Testament, God says He acts "as the witness between you and the wife of your youth."
The context is people wondering why their prayers are going unanswered, why God seems to be unresponsive to all their religious observances designed to please Him. There's obviously a breakdown between them and God, and they're clueless as to what's wrong.
God's answer goes back to the promises they made on their wedding day!
"It is because you have broken faith with the wife of your youth, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant."
It's as if God is saying, "You may have forgotten what you promised her (or him), but I haven't."
Years have passed. You've both changed so much. There have been hurts, tension, harsh words, disappointed expectations, even serious temptations.
And those promises? Neglected? Violated? Forgotten?
The God before whom we will each stand one day is still expecting us to deliver on the selfless, sacrificial, nurturing, protecting love we promised at that altar.
Something to consider on the days when your love is drifting, dying or about to give up.
God clearly heard every word I promised Karen. And always tried to get my attention when I was forgetting my vows to her.
Because, it turns out He was hearing them as vows to Him, too.
I hold in my hand a ring that will always remind me that the covenant love of a husband and wife means a lot to God.
And that His is the love that makes possible a love that never dies.