Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: MARRIAGE (08/25/16)
TITLE: When Marriage Fails
By Daniel Rae
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I'd attended many times as a camper, an enthusiastic participant in the idyllic location; Twelve cabins above the Bay, just a short stone pathway from the salty waters edge.
But this summer I wasn't here as a camper. I was here as a barely paid employee, hired to direct all waterfront activities. More specifically to run the ski boat and teach the adolescent land-lubbers to keep their balance, on two carefully planed pieces of laminated wood.
My first hour there I was introduced to the camps executive director, a little guy that was both well known and well loved amongst the Brethren Assemblies. Bobby Burns was a gifted preacher and hosted a children's radio program. What he lacked in height he quickly made up for in depth. I was considerably honoured to meet him.
As camp quickly settled into a predictable routine, I became even more familiar with the 'Family Burns'. Mrs. Burns was front and centre, a classy and sophisticated woman. We stood side by side washing dishes one night, when she informed me that she had 2 daughters about my age. I was enthused by this developement and suggested she invite them down to camp. Both she and Mr Burns seemed delighted by this proposal, and a few nights later I'd enter the dining room, accordingly enthusiastic. At the 'executive' table for the camp's V.I.P.s, sat Mr and Mrs Burns, flanked by two attractive daughters. To my considerable glee, an empty chair awaited me. I rolled up to the table exuding charisma I wasn't due, and confidence I hadn't earned. To my good fortune, no one was immediately aware of my ineligibility. Both girls were enchanting and suitably bred. It would take considerable effort on my part, to even slightly fit in.
The evening ended and the next day the girls were gone. But Mrs Burns quickly became my most vital liason. I'd gladly wash dishes on my time off, if it meant that her and I would be side by side, in front of the industrial sinks.
And indeed we were, as often as possible.
Seven months later I would marry Barbara Burns, the eldest of the two daughters. By then any shine I'd exuded in those first few days at camp, had long since tarnished.
I was a ne'er do well invading a prestigious family. Mr and Mrs Burns would severely rue their enthusiastic introductions at the camp at Maple Bay. I would ultimately legitimize every concern they could have, at the prospect of turning their first born daughter, over to the likes of me.
Our wedding photo's bear witness to the ensuing calamity; Mr and Mrs Burns visages, harrowed and suffering in their inevitable plight.
We lost dad ( Mr. Burns ) 7 years ago. The service bore witness to his commitment to the Lord. Person after person reflected on his impact in their lives, pointing to him as the person that had led them to Salvation. I was as proud to sit with the family that day, as I had been 30-some years before, at the 'VIP' table in Maple Bay.
By now our girls were 18 and 23, beautiful young ladies that were heartbroken by the loss of 'Pa', their cherished grandfather. Mrs Burns ( Nana ) was predictably strong and endured the service with an admirable grace. We'd grown to love each other over the decades since camp, even despite some shameful behaviour as a son-in-law.
But forgiveness wasn't an option for my in-laws; it was a Biblical duty. Their rule book was Gods Word, and they were strict adherents to its instructions. No Christian man could have asked for better in-laws to entrust his offspring to; grandparents that pray without ceasing, for the grandkids they love.
I failed as a husband and lost my wife in the process. But thanks to the Lord, I am tight with my girls and we interact everyday. In fact I'm 5 months from being a grandfather for the first time and I'm completely aware of the impact my life should have, on any children that my daughters bear.
The failure of marriage is a crippling loss. It's a union that God expressly created as permanent.
As Believers there is no contingency plan, for those of us that abandon our matrimonial responsibilities.
But thanks to a loving God there is forgiveness, and in graciously unlimited droves.
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