ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–As you read this, I am celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary. Don’t call to congratulate me, as I am far away –- with my sweetheart –- and I’m not telling you where.
But it’s beautiful here, and romantic, and luxurious and — OK, I’ll stop. But how thankful I am for my wonderful wife, Donna. She has been good news to me for all these years. I have never known ministry without her.
She was by my side as my girlfriend when I preached my first sermon at my first church as a 19 year old –- the wonderful Hay Valley Baptist Church in Gatesville, Texas. She has put up with me and traveled with me through jungles, over mountains, under the sea and over the sea and just about anywhere else where adventure and/or missions and evangelism could take us. And, she has been my joy during it all.
She has been good news in sickness and health, just like she promised. She has given me the best news of my life -– three wonderful children who I love more than this world. And she has mothered them with beauty and grace to be the wonderful people they have become. She has been, and is, my friend, my companion in everything, my counselor, encouragement, partner in ministry and wife. I can hardly believe it has been 25 years. Can’t wait for the next 25. On our trip we will remember together all the wonderful memories we have built and shared -– like that first Christmas when it snowed so hard at my parents’ house that we could not get up the driveway and when we tried to walk we fell -– and rolled down the hill covered in snow, laughing until we cried.
I want you to think about all the impossibly wonderful moments of life you have had because of Jesus. Why in the world should it be hard to talk about the One who has done all this? Does it sound like I have trouble talking about my wife? Do you think it is difficult for me to tell you these things? Of course not. It’s a privilege. It’s good news! And everyone loves sharing good news. I love you, Donna. But I love Jesus more. And I cannot imagine living my life without talking about Him. He is the best news of all.
Have you possibly left your first love behind? Maybe it’s time for an anniversary trip to remember what you have –- the life that is truly life and lasts forever. Spend some time even today just loving Him -– remembering Him –- and then recommit yourself to take the rest of your life to tell those around you what He has done for you. This is not a chore! Not a job to do. Not a box to check off on your spiritual checklist. This is the Great Romance! You are the bride of Christ. This is our joy. So ask a friend today if you could talk about more than sports or the weather or what’s on TV. Ask if you could tell them about the One you love -– who loves them too.
Come on Southern Baptists –- celebrate with me! And make evangelism good news again.
John Avant is vice president for evangelization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.