Today Donna and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. From that Friday night on October 27, 1967 to this Friday, October 27, 2017, God has blessed our lives together. When two people spend half a century in a loving relationship, God is honored, because, as the Bible says, the Lord is a witness to the vows they make to each other and to the covenant they establish in marriage (Malachi 2:14).
HOW WE MET
Donna and I met while we were students at California Baptist College (CBC) in Riverside, California. Since our remembrance of how we met differs, I will give my story of how I met the woman who would become my wife. During the fall semester in 1965, a group of CBC students came together to prepare to go to Mexico during the Christmas break to do evangelistic work.
This group of students eventually became known as “Hermanos en Cristo.” One of the persons in our group was Yvonne Helton, Donna’s roommate. One day Yvonne and I were talking in the student center when Yvonne introduced me to Donna. Our conversation was brief and sure enough, I did not make much of an impression on Donna because over these fifty years, she does not remember that meeting.
In the spring semester of 1966, Donna joined Hermanos en Cristo and went to Mexico with us during our Easter break. It was at this time that Donna became acquainted with me and we developed a friendship that has lasted a lifetime. It was love at first sight for me and love at second sight for Donna, a love that brought us together on October 27, 1967, the day when we joined our lives forever.
The wise man said: “He who finds a wife has found happiness and has won the favor of the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). Looking back at these fifty years of happiness, I can honestly say that I have found the Lord’s favor, because the Lord has given me a wonderful wife, a wife that has been a helper and my true partner (Genesis 2:18) in life, in ministry, and in my academic life.
OUR YEARS TOGETHER
Donna and I met on a missionary trip to Mexico in 1966 and we have been in ministry, serving the Lord since then. We have served churches in California, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois. Together we began a Brazilian church in California and two Spanish churches in Kentucky. While we lived in Kentucky, Donna taught Spanish in a Christian High School in Louisville. Donna has been my lifetime editor. She edited and typed my PhD dissertation at Southern Seminary. She has also edited more than 250 books, articles, and book reviews that I have published since we got married. She has also edited almost 3000 posts for my blog. Our years together have given us three wonderful sons, five beautiful granddaughters, and a gorgeous great-granddaughter. Donna is an amazing wife, a loving mother to our sons, and my best friend and confidant. We often say that our lean times after we got married taught us to trust in God to provide for our needs and to depend on each other for support and strength. Donna meets all the requirements of the ʾēšet ḥayīl, the wife of noble character of Proverbs 31:10. God brought us together fifty years ago and God has kept us together for fifty years: “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).
As Donna and I celebrate this special day, our golden wedding anniversary, I would like to dedicate Lord Byron’s poem to my wife of fifty years.
SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY
By Lord Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Claude F. Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary