Pell City, Mississippi --William and Mary Jackson's marriage lasted for 25 years. It began on June 5, 1984 at First Baptist Church Pell City and ended on June 5, 2009 at a Pell City Notary Office.
Their marriage started out rough. "The first six or seven years were difficult," said Mary. "We were in our early 20's. We were traditional in our ways and had not lived together prior to the marriage. The transition wasn't easy. We both had a lot of unfulfilled expectations."
In the late 1980's they began attending church for friendships, but found something much different. "As I began reading and studying the Bible, I was continually struggling with the way this ancient book was pin-pointing my problem areas," said William. "There was no doubt that I was falling way short of perfection in every area of my life. I was distressed and equated my imperfections with displeasing to God. I had a great burden over this idea. I tried to ignore these deep down feelings of lostness. I tried to distract myself with entertainment and intellectual pursuits. But I could not escape the fact that, one day, death would come, and I would not be able to face God."
"A similar experience happened to me," said Mary. "I'm not a genius, but it did not take me long to figure out that this Bible talked about purpose and meaning that I did not have. I cried out to God to give me help. As I read and studied the Bible, I cried out to God to give me peace from my pain. I needed a rescuer. I found that rescuer in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ."
"It was so simple," said William. "Jesus is the Christ predicted for centuries. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed to a lamb that would die for sins. Christ was brutally crucified during the very time of the Jewish celebration of the Passover when spotless lambs were slaughtered for protection from God's holy judgement of sin. I see now that the Lord Jesus was my substitute. He is the spotless lamb who died for my sins so that I can live."
Even though William and Mary had trusted the Lord with their lives, there were problems. Each day brought new challenges and struggles. But they made a commitment to each other. They renewed their wedding vows, and promised each other that they would stick together. They pledged to strive to be a support for each other under the guidance of the Holy Spirit no matter how difficult things got in their lives. They were committed to reading the Bible and praying together daily. They began every day early with a Bible passage and prayer and coffee. Each day, they asked God for guidance and blessings.
As the years passed, they stressed over the pains of raising children and working and making ends meet financially. They always spent too much at Christmas. They usually went too far with spending at birthdays and vacations. They often argued over little things. With young kids in the car, they sometimes screamed at the cars in front of them to speed up to go through yellow lights so they wouldn't be late for the T-ball game or dance recital. Their married days were filled with tears and joy.
But despite their continual, daily failing to be perfect, they found joy in the Lord as they repented for their sins of the day, thanked God that they were not condemned because of the work of Christ alone, held each other, and woke the next morning seeking the Lord's will for their lives.
Through it all, they attempted each morning to awake, open God's Word, and pray together to the Lord asking for His leading by the Holy Spirit. They humbled themselves before the Lord each morning and thanked the Lord that He, and He alone, is everything and deserves all glory.
Despite the pains and troubles of the week, they took the family to met with fellow believers each Sunday morning for Bible study and a worship service. As they sat together in the pew of the church building, they held hands and prayed, bowing to God to give them strength in all things.
"William has so many faults," said Mary. "I know I have many also. But we always had the belief that as we bowed low to the Lord each day together, we could then hold our head's high because of God's grace and mercy."
However, after 25 years of marriage, William and Mary awoke on June 5, 2009 for their normal prayer time. They both had the feeling that they were being led to get a divorce. They visited a Pell City notary and signed the papers that afternoon.