This coming Monday will be wedding anniversary number 41 for "the best M+M combination since 'melts in your mouth, not in your hand'" (the toast at our wedding). It also will be the 34th anniversary of my ordination (How's that for a way to deal with 'the seven year itch'?). I will celebrate the day, for it serves as a marker of the incredible way in which God in Christ Jesus has been so faithful to me ... and not just to me, but also to us as a couple, our entire family, and many, many more.

I am not one to remember the gifts Monica and I have exchanged with each other over the years. I more appreciate the moments we are blessed to spend with each other. I DO remember how I forgot our first anniversary ... and the grace Monica bestowed in never holding it against me.

I have never kept track of how many weddings, funerals or baptisms I have been involved in. In fact, occasionally after talking to someone I have not seen in a few years, I try to find the old records that would indicate my involvement in their life. I do, however, remember the times I could not serve people because of schedule conflicts and other issues.

"Lord, if you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that you may be revered." (Psalm 130.3-4) What a privileged life I lead! In spite of my many, many shortcoming and failures, I am loved. I am forgiven. And, again and again, I am given another day to give those same gifts to others.

The psalmist goes on to say, "I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning - more than watchmen for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with him is redemption in abundance. And he will redeem Israel from all its iniquities." (verses 5-8) These are the markers that keep our lives on track and moving forward: "hope in his word" ... "hope in the Lord" ... "redemption in abundance". These gifts of God in Christ Jesus are the clear indicators that we are a privileged people. or as Peter puts it, "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession" (1 Peter 2.9)

This week I have had the privilege of visiting with over a dozen people in their homes, and of working with many others in an assortment of locations and settings. Sometimes there are tears. Often times there is pain. Occasionally there is a light bulb flashing over someone's head. However, every time there is the Spirit of God whispering, "Wait for the Lord ... wait and put your hope in his word." (Psalm 130.5) And how my heart yearns within me that more would experience what I am experiencing day after day!

What are the markers God is placing before you at this stage of your life? They are there to assure you of his present mercy and grace. They are there to guide you in the plans he has for you. They are there to help you move forward in faith. "hope in his word" ... "redemption in abundance" ... "Wait for the Lord " ... "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3.5-6)

And one of these days we will have to discuss how waiting and trusting are connected to each other ... and how different they are from inactivity and inflexibility!