On November 3, 2007, we renewed our wedding vows. Although we had been married for fifteen years, this day marked a new beginning for us. We had just experienced the miracle of redemption for our once-dead marriage, and wanted to make a declaration as well as celebrate God’s unconditional love with our family and friends. Fred wrote the following for our friend to share with everyone who was in attendance that day. Now we want to share it with you and pray it will offer hope and encouragement for anyone who is struggling in their marriage. God’s love never fails!
“Good Afternoon. Fred & Lori put together some thoughts for us, the couples and friends that surround and encourage them, to better understand why we are here today. I am going to try to read this without crying for the challenges that these lovers and believers faced, the work of the Holy Spirit, the joy that God brought to this family, and the covenant that they recommit today.
On the afternoon of September 19, 1992, Fred and Lori were united together in marriage before friends and family at the Asbury United Methodist Church in Lansing, Michigan. It was a beautiful day–it was a blessed day. The wedding and the reception that followed was like most all other weddings: Fred and Lori exchanged vows, rings, shared a kiss, and lit a unity candle–symbolic of their love for each other. The only exception from a normal wedding day was that a big college football game was being played between Michigan State and Notre Dame on the campus where they had the reception.
Unfortunately, however—the fact is—it was like most other weddings where the focus was on the ceremony, each other, and ultimately themselves. Like most weddings, theirs had the symbolism of Christ—the service was done in a church, typical Bible verses were read, such as 1 Corinthians 13, a unity candle was lit as a symbol of their togetherness, and the Lord’s Prayer was said out loud.
Today, Fred and Lori will admit that they were not Christians at the time and memorized the Lords prayer only weeks before the ceremony, so it could be included without error as a part of the event. They also admit that their view of weddings and the institution of marriage at that time was a worldly one—absent of the One who created and ordained it. They had the symbolism but lacked the relationship with the Lord that is required for a marriage to flourish. As the Psalmist recorded, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.’ Fred and Lori were building their own house and it would eventually crumble.
Today, Fred and Lori are going to renew their vows—15 years after that beautiful fall afternoon. Today will be much different, yet much of what you will see will be the same. Vows will be shared, Bible verses read, a candle will be lit, a kiss will be shared, family and friends will be present, and (AGAIN) it will take place on a Saturday afternoon in God’s house while a big college football game is being played—now between Michigan and Michigan State.
The difference this time, however, is that Fred and Lori yield this day, this event…this marriage, to the Lord. Unlike the ceremony in 1992, their perspective of this ceremony will be Christ-centered—not self-centered.
That being said, there are questions that beg to be asked: why here—why now—why at all. With that, here are some of the answers.
Since their wedding in 1992, Fred and Lori have accomplished many things, traveled to many places and lived in many different cities—Lansing,MI, St. Louis, MO, Denver, CO, Phoenix, AZ, and now Grand Rapids, MI. It is safe to say that the biggest motivator for Fred and Lori during those times was the same thing that motivated them during their wedding 15 years ago: themselves and their interests.
During those times, and always, the Lord was faithful and good and they moved closer to Him. They each became Christians and the Lord blessed them with many friends and opportunities to serve as they became active in the Church. One of which was taking high school youth groups hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The greatest blessing occurred in 2002 when they lived in Denver—it was the birth of their wonderful twin boys, Ryan and Drew, after going through years of infertility.
Thanks to a job-related promotion, the Snyder family arrived in Grand Rapids in the spring of 2004. It was during this time that it was apparent that they had slowly separated from God. The wear and tear of careers, extensive travel, moving, personal interests/goals and the normal toils of everyday of life took their toll. Fred and Lori were legally separated in November of 2005.
It was during their time of separation, that both reached the end of themselves. It was at this darkest time, when hope seemed lost, that both were finally broken and realized that all of the things they pursued, with such vigor, were meaningless (dust). It was at this time that Fred and Lori individually turned toward God, and then eventually towards each other.
That is essentially why we are here today: to celebrate the love of Christ, the gift of His grace, and His enduring Love…a love that words cannot express. Fred and Lori have chosen their ceremony, marriage, and the rest of their lives to be focused on living in Christ and by His ways–not their own.
If you were to ask Fred and Lori what was the best thing that ever happened to them, their answer would probably surprise you. It was at their darkest moment—the time when they were separated–that both each turned to God and found Him, actually pursuing them—with open arms–and offered mercy, grace and a love that surpassed all of their understanding. For as the Lord said through His profit Joel, ‘Even now, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in Love, and he relents from sending calamity.’
This is why we are here today. We celebrate God’s endless pursuit of us and the covenant of marriage! Glory to God!”
Fred & Lori Snyder