A couple of weeks back, my wife and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. We have always both been pretty casual about the whole anniversary thing. Our shared view is that, if we have to place too much emphasis on the milestones, then perhaps we’re not enjoying the journey as much as we should. Also, raising our children was so demanding we did not really have the presence of mind to remember much beyond surviving each day. It was only when our kids starting preparing to leave the nest that we found ourselves remembering our anniversary.
“Say, didn't we get married in March?” my wife asked.
“Yes we did. It was the 10th or 12th, I think,” I replied.
“How long has it been?”
“Twenty-two years. No wait, twenty-three. Wow.”
That was three years ago. Last year I bought a fancy silver picture frame with “25th Anniversary” engraved along the bottom and two oval holes for photographs. The plan was for me to find a photo from when we first got married and another more recent picture.
That never happened and the frame stood empty all year. This year, however, I made the effort and found two suitable candidates. The first was taken on our wedding day (we looked vaguely terrified). The other was from our first trip to England without the kids (we look relieved). So we now have a beautiful silver frame showing where we started and how far we have come. Through a trick of perspective, my wife’s wedding gown appears to run diagonally across the other, more recent, picture. It looks almost like a path, as if God is showing us that he knew our steps long before we did and that those steps would lead us...here.
What struck me while searching through the albums and computer folders, was just how much we have been though since tying the knot a quarter of a century ago. I got to revisit my children’s lives, from them clinging to us while we helped them take their first wide-eyed steps, to them gazing into the distance with that longing in their eyes that meant they would soon be gone. Our aim was always to raise them to love Jesus and build their lives on God’s unshakable foundation. They have both had their struggles with faith, but my daughter talks about God as if he is a part of the family and last night my son had to end our Skype session early to attend the church youth group he leads. This gives me hope for their futures.
Somewhere in those photographs was a snapshot of my very first novel and I remembered so clearly why it was I started writing. I wanted to create stories that Christians could enjoy and that perhaps atheists could read as well. What I never expected was for it to take so long for that dream to come to fruition. In fact, the journey of my writing coincides almost exactly with that of my children. Last year both my son and daughter moved out to start lives of their own. Earlier this year I discovered something about my first novel that made the years of effort worthwhile.
While searching for my book “Alpha Redemption” on Google, I found it listed on a site of top 25 A.I. novels, surrounded by secular books from the likes of Asimov, Banks and Clarke. The reviewer said that he never thought that he would one day write a positive review for a Christian novel, but that that day had come. Looking at my little book sitting on that list of secular titles among the giants of science fiction, I realized that I could happily stop writing because this is exactly what I set out to do all those years ago.
But, like any journey, it doesn't finish till you get to the end. My children’s lives have just begun and the path leading from my wife’s dress does not stop but appears to pass out of the frame and on into the unknown. And I have too many stories inside my head to stop writing now. I hope that this is just the beginning and that, twenty five years down the line, I will be looking for more photographs to put inside a frame and marveling at how much we have lived during that time.