Finding a new love
A. Ray Lee
My older brother Joe graduated from high school in May of 1950 at the age of seventeen and in June enlisted in the Air Force to escape the drudgery of farm labor and the demanding nature of our father. I think he had in mind serving a four-year term and returning to civilian life. But he missed the structure he had found in service and reenlisted after a few months and had a successful career.
Somewhere along the way he met Cindy and they were married. It was a good match and over the years they raised two daughters and a son. Some years after Joe’s retirement Cindy fought a losing battle with cancer and he found himself alone as the children had already reached young adulthood and were getting established in their independence. He missed the structured life he had known both in service and as a husband and father. He often visited with his children but they could not fill the void and loneliness he faced.
Eventually in a religious group setting Joe met Peggy. They were drawn together by similar experiences. Peggy and her husband Charles had experienced a good marriage. They too had raised three children—two sons and a daughter. The family had been active in their faith and involved in church ministries. Life was good until without any warning by sickness or accident Charles died in his sleep. In her aloneness, Peggy found help with her grief in her faith and friends. But they could not fill the void she felt in her heart.
As each was still dealing with grief, the relationship between Joe and Peggy began as one of friendship. I think each longed for more than a casual relationship, but was reluctant to take another step thinking of their good marriage of the past and fearful of disappointment in another. As they came to know each other mutual love overcame their fears.
I was honored to join them together in holy matrimony. In over 63 years of ministry, I have officiated at more weddings than I can begin to remember. None has been more satisfying to me. They wanted to marry not because they had previously been involved in a bad relationship and wanted to try for a better one, but because they had experienced a good one in the past. In their loneliness, God had given them a new love which blessed and sustained them for the rest of their lives.
I officiated at Joe’s final service nine years ago. Recently I was called to preach Peggy’s funeral message. My thoughts turned again to how she had loved and cared for my brother. She had faithfully stood by him in his last years as dementia took its deadly toll. I gave thanks to God for the new love he had brought into their lives. The Psalmist has written “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)