During the first two days of our recent vacation in western Montana, the air was filled with smoke from forest fires. My wife, Merry, and I could barely make out the outline of the Bitterroot Mountains.
Then a cold front swept out the smoke … and replaced it with rain and low-hanging clouds. We drove up to Whitefish, and visited Glacier National Park, yet we caught only glimpses of snow-capped mountain peaks. “As beautiful as this is,” I told Merry, “we’re only seeing half of what’s here.”
And then, on the sixth day, the heavens opened up, and we experienced one of those unexpected and extraordinary blessings that we will never forget.
It was Sunday morning, and we were driving south from Whitefish to Missoula. The skies had cleared, and we could finally see the mountains in all their glory. We listened to a CD of praise music, and then we began descending toward Flathead Lake, which stretched into the distance for more than 25 miles. The view was so breathtaking that it was almost too much to take in, and suddenly an ordinary drive became a transcendent time of worship.
Romans 1:20 tells us that in nature we see evidence of God’s attributes, and that day we realized we were blessed with a tiny glimpse of God’s glory and goodness. I could hardly speak, and Merry was moved to tears.
This experience in Montana occurred just a few weeks ago, but to me it already is one of my favorite memories of our marriage. The older I grow, the more precious these memories become. They bind Merry and me together; they help make us one.
I’ve been writing a list of my favorite marriage memories. My list brings back mental images of vacations in Oregon, New England, Hawaii, and England. I think of camping trips with our children, walks along the beach, and special times with relatives.
And some memories consist of just a fleeting moment. I remember our daughter Missy’s final volleyball match in high school, when her team lost in the state tournament semifinals. I was filming the match, and in the final minute I looked up at Merry in the stands. Our eyes met, and in that moment we shared all the joy and heartache and triumph and frustration of watching a child compete in athletics. Our souls connected.
A marriage is built on memories like these. Yet how often do we take the time to talk about these memories, to write them down, to remember? Sometimes it’s easier to think of the hard times than the good ones.
So I have a challenge for you: Sometime during the next week, take some time with your spouse and make a list of your favorite memories. Be sure to note why these particular memories stand out. Enjoy the time together. If you have children, share your list with them.
In fact, I’m going to take up my own challenge and create a joint list of favorite memories with Merry. And I’ll be interested to see if she mentions that “drive in Montana.”