Gilland: Beyond sentimental

OK, I admit it: I have always been known as a sentimental person. The incredible amount of tears I have shed over the years during Publix commercials proves this.

Really, I am not sure which is the craziest—either crying over commercials, or my telling this publicly! But since it is no surprise to my friends, I am fine with letting you in on it, too.

I am finding that, as I get older, my sentimental thoughts and perspectives are becoming more frequent, and over things that are more meaningful. In a real way, my tendencies toward sentiment are maturing. Let me explain.

I was so honored to be asked to lead the informal ceremony of a marriage renewal of vows held on Friday night. This dear couple has been our friends since we moved to Florida in the mid ‘80s. We have laughed together, cried and prayed together, and enjoyed myriad experiences in our growing church.

In fact, on the occasion of their tenth anniversary, in 1992, I performed a similar renewal service for them. Now, 30 years later, they wanted to mark the big 4-0 anniversary by once again expressing their love for and commitment to each other, and once again I was honored to be their officiant.

I was struck by several thoughts, all in real time, as I was addressing the assembled group of friends for this ceremony. One had to do the fact that everyone in that room held a special place in the lives of John and Kathy, and we were all excited to see them hit such a milestone in their marriage. This couple’s love for life, and their devotion to the Lord is exemplary. They are just pure fun to be around.

But there was something else that crossed my mind too—and this is where I got sentimental. All these years of life together, serving in our local church, with both times of laughter, and times of incredible loss in our church family…they are all factors of what is simply life in the Kingdom of God. It is the Lord’s plan and good will that we enjoy these times in friendship and relationship. They make the happy events more joyful, and the sad times that we all go through more bearable.

Truth is, if richness is defined by having great and dear friends, then I am one wealthy man. I treasure these relationships, and I am grateful to have so many of them with whom we have shared life for close to 40 years.

Thinking about now that just about brings a fresh tear to my eyes.

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