where love is alive 

The numbers in the corner of my computer screen reminds me of today’s date: May 14.  It is a significant day in the journey of my life. It was on this day 36 years ago that Michelle and I were married and became husband and wife.  What seemed so natural back then amazes me now. The courage of her parents to entrust the security of their 20-year-old daughter to me is astonishing. Yet, Floyd Phillips, my father-in-law, walked Michelle down that long aisle and when the time came to answer “Who gives this woman to be wed?” he took his cue and confidently said, “Her mother and I” putting Michelle’s hand into mine. Now that’s faith!

The wedding was a family affair with my dad officiating, my brother as my best man, and my brothers-in-law as groomsmen. My sister Jan was one of the bridesmaids. My other sister Ann was 8 months pregnant and served as hostess over the guest book.

The ceremony we had planned for months seemed to pass in mere moments. In short time we officially were “Mr. & Mrs. McCluskey.” But looking back, we realize that at the time we were just children or “baby adults” at best.  To be honest, we were far too young to appreciate this adventure of life we were entering together.

By my count, we have lived in six homes, raised two fine sons, gained two beautiful daughters-in-law, adopted four dogs, and traveled to twenty countries. We have also been members of three churches.

  • Shortly after our wedding, we joined my home church, Wallace Memorial Baptist in Knoxville. We were only there for about three months before moving to Louisville, KY to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • A few weeks after moving to seminary, I was invited to be pastor of Clearspring Baptist Church in South Indiana. We were part of that rural congregation during the three years that I worked toward my Master of Divinity degree.
  • After graduation, North Cleveland Baptist Church graciously welcomed me as your pastor here in Bradley County.

Therefore, our marriage has experienced church memberships lasting three months, three years, and thirty-three years!

In His providence, the Lord allowed North Cleveland Baptist Church to be a long-term church family to my home. The journey we began with infant children has now reached the stage of the empty nest. Through all these seasons, this spiritual community has graced our lives.

I remain convinced that one of the best things a couple can do in marriage is to participate actively in a local church ministry. While congregational involvement does not immunize couples from marital pressures and troubles, it does provide a divine resource emphasizing marriage-strengthening themes of servanthood, encouragement, forgiveness, sacrifice, and love. `

Today I especially am grateful for this journey called marriage. I appreciate the grace God has shown us, including the love our church has contributed to the story.                                                                                                                                                                                     -Jay

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