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My parents have been constant, positive examples

Yesterday was my parents’ wedding anniversary. They’ve been wed a few years past 50 and would happily stay together for 50 more.

They have been a great example to their children, grandchildren and others.

When they celebrated their 50th anniversary a few years ago, hundreds of people showed up. Cousins and other family members traveled long distances to pay respect and celebrate with Mom and Dad.

Old friends from near and far came to the gymnasium at Chunky Baptist Church, where Dad had pastored for 27 years, to wish them many more wonderful years together.

If you asked them their “secret” to a great marriage, they might include words like patience, perseverance, understanding, forgiveness, love … but the No. 1 reason they would give you is that God has been good to them.

I heard it told years ago that a marriage counselor was giving advice to a couple on the verge of separation and divorce. He asked them to each stand where they were in his office and to do their best to get as close as possible to the hanging light bulb in the center of the room.

Of course, as they did this, they found themselves also getting very close to one another.

The counselor told them that just as getting closer to the bulb brought them closer to one another, so would they grow closer together if they each focused on the Light of the World — Jesus — and did their best to each get as close as possible to him.

This is what my parents have done and continue to do, and it works.

When I went through a divorce, I spent a lot of time talking with my parents, especially my father.

One day while sitting in his living room, he asked if he could ask me some questions and be very blunt with me. I agreed.

He asked me when was the last time my wife and I had prayed together. I told him it had been a little while.

He asked when was the last time we had read and studied the Bible together. I hung my head and admitted I could not remember.

“You know that’s the problem,” he said. I couldn’t argue with that.

I was a pastor. I had no excuse. I was concerned about others, but not nearly concerned enough about my own marriage, it seemed.

These were not the only reasons we separated and divorced, but they were the major earthquakes behind all of the other minor faults.

It’s so easy to get off track if you’re not 100 percent committed to doing what is necessary to stay plugged in.

By God’s mercy and grace, I’m blessed to be remarried to a woman who works with me to keep each other on track.

Even the most gifted athletes and musicians practice continually — not just to get better but to maintain proficiency and skill for where they are.

If you’re an athlete who doesn’t practice, you may be able to fool non-athletes or those who are less-practiced/skilled into thinking you’re on top of your game. Some athletes may pick up on it. Your coach or trainer will most likely be able to tell.

If I’m not plugged into God’s word and committed to prayer, many people will never know. I might could fumble my way through teaching a Sunday school lesson or even preaching a sermon without other people catching on.

But I know it, my wife will quickly pick up on it and — most importantly — God knows it. My relationship with him will begin to falter, to break down and be less than it was meant to be. He’ll still be my Father and I won’t lose my salvation — but I won’t have the kind of relationship with him I say that I want and the kind I know he wants.

Just like athletic or musical ability, it’s easier to maintain than repair a relationship with a loving Father when we don’t emphasize it like we should.

My parents have been steadfast examples of faith in my life. We know if we ask them to pray, they do — and they pray in confidence to the God who is able to do all things, asking for his will to be done in the situation.

It’s how they have grown individually and in their marriage, and I am grateful to have seen this firsthand.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you both more than I can say — and I am eternally grateful for the godly lives you lead.

Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com or 601-265-5307.