“God’s anonymous: Methuselah’s wife”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Born in March of 1910 and October of 1915, Julio Mora and Waldramina Quinteros met during a school vacation, because her sister was married to his cousin. Then after seven years of friendship, they were married in a small, private ceremony on February 7, 1941. (It was small and private because their families didn’t approve).
But thankfully, they’ve been together ever since, now making them, (according to the Guiness Book of World Records), the oldest married couple in the world, with a combined age of close to 215 years!
And over their nearly eighty years of life together, they’ve celebrated the gift of five children, eleven grandchildren, twenty-one great-grandchildren, and nine great-great-grandchildren. Not bad for a couple whose families said it would never work!
So what’s their secret for success? They said, “Family unity under the rules of love, mutual respect, honest work, and proper education based on family values are the keys to healthy coexistence.”
And speaking of long-time married couples, think of Ralph and Dorothy Kohler of Omaha, Nebraska who, just this past September, celebrated their eighty-fifth wedding anniversary.
Back in 1935, when she was just sixteen and he was seventeen, they stopped at the Burt County Courthouse in Tekamah, Nebraska to get married. But when the first judge said he wouldn’t marry them, they found another one that would. And though everyone told them it would never last, they’ve been together ever since, making them America’s oldest and longest-married couple.
What’s their secret for success? Ralph said, “Love for one thing, and enjoy the same things. Dorothy loves ballroom dancing, and I loved shooting clay targets. I joined her with ballroom dancing, and she joined me with trap shooting.” And Dorothy added one more thing they had in common--“I liked to cook, and he liked to eat.”
Happy 85th anniversary, Ralph and Dorothy!
Now if you think eighty years or even eighty-five years together is a pretty long time, you’d be right. It is a long time. Now imagine that you’re married to not just the oldest person on earth, but the oldest man in history! So it was for one of God’s anonymous--Methuselah’s wife.
Listen to the words of Genesis chapter 5: “When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died” (Genesis 5:25-27).
So what do we know about Methuselah? Not a lot, really. The Bible doesn’t tell us much at all. But there are some things we can guess.
For example, since we know that Adam, the very first man, was Methuselah’s great-great-great- great-great-grandfather, and that they lived at the very same time, (for 243 years as a matter of fact!), it means that he could have learned, firsthand, of what the Garden of Eden was like, of what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was like, about the fruit and the fall and the angels God sent to guard the garden, making it impossible for him to ever return again.
Mr. Methuselah, Mr. Geriatric, a walking, talking, Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” thirty-one years short of a millennium, met all of the Bible’s main characters since the beginning of time. And we wonder--what was it like to meet Eve, the first woman, the first wife, and the first mother, or Cain, who killed his brother Abel, or Enoch, the one who walked with God?
Yet through it all, as one century turned into another that turned into another, he knew full well that man was growing only worse, as hearts strayed farther and farther away from God. That’s what it says in Genesis chapter 6: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of his heart was only evil all the time. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).
And that’s when Methuselah came to realize the full meaning of his name: “When he dies, it shall come.”
What shall come? Judgment. Destruction. Death by a flood.
And sure enough, just as soon as he died, the rain came down and the flood came up and took the life of nearly every living thing on earth.
Yet through it all, who stood by his side? For all those years, for all those centuries--Mrs. Methuselah.
It seems that marriage is under pressure like it’s never been before. Today, researchers tell us that there are nearly 17,000 divorces every week, making it 2,400 divorces every day, and one divorce every 36 seconds. The average length of a first marriage is eight years, and the average age for couples going through a divorce is thirty years old. And even among our older set, those who are between the ages of 54-64 years old, in what’s called, “Grey Divorce,” the rate has quadrupled over the past thirty years.
And while three out of four will marry again, 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages will also end in divorce.
And think of those who’ve been in the news lately, even multi-billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates, and Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos.
Marriage is under pressure like it’s never been before.
In an article entitled, Lifetime of loving--what long-married couples can teach us about relationships, the author, Katie Lepri, tells of three couples--Wesley and Margaret Bennett who spent summers camping in national parks, Edith and Bob Levine who survived the Normandy invasion with an amputated leg, and Russell and Edith White who say they put their faith first and the rest followed--three couples, all married for more than fifty years.
Wesley and Margaret’s story began when he was stationed in Hawaii, eighteen years after Pearl Harbor. Their first date was at a bowling alley. And after getting married in 1963, he retired from the Navy four years later in 1967.
He said, “We didn’t question whether we were going to make it or not. We figured we were and it’s still working out. And with a hundred acre farm, I took care of everything outside, and she took care of everything inside.”
Now after spending fifty-one years of life together, travelling more than 300,000 miles in an RV, and visiting every state except North Dakota, they live in assisted care on Florida’s west coast.
He said, “If you don’t respect each other, you aren’t going to make it. In order to get that respect, you have to give respect. And if you give it, it will be returned to you, if that’s the right one.”
Bob Levine met his wife, Edith, on a blind date. And it’s a good thing, he said, because he had been a prisoner of war looking for love, and she was exactly what he wanted.
As a member of the 90th Infantry Division, he took part in the Normandy invasion in 1944, where he suffered a broken leg and a crushed right foot. Injured and captured, he was operated on by a German doctor who saved his life by amputating his right leg. The last thing he remembers saying was, “There goes my twentieth birthday.”
Now after sixty-four years of life together, Edith said, “It wasn’t all a bowl of roses. I remember when things were tough and I would say, ‘The kids had the measles, mumps and chickenpox, the roof was leaking, the basement was flooded, we couldn’t pay the bills,’ but Bob would say, ‘But no one’s shooting at you, so take a shower.’” And spending their “golden years” in a home in New Jersey, Bob says, “We’re almost like one person, we know each other so well. It’s just really amazing. There’s no him and her, it’s us.”
And last but not least, Russ and Edith White met in high school, and had even acted together in their school’s senior play, but neither one had any interest in the other till their junior year of college. When Edith’s church was having a dance and she needed a date, her mother said, “Ask Russell White.” And that dance sparked an on-and-off relationship for the next year and a half.
By June of 1950, the Korean War broke out. And since they knew he’d be drafted, they married the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 25, 1950. Now after seventy years of marriage, they’ve been blessed with four children, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
The secret to their marriage? Russell said, “Be open with each other. Be honest with each other. And know the rules.”
You who feel more like Mr. and Mrs. Methuselah all the time know what many youth don’t yet know. You’ve seen too much and you’ve felt too much to know that life isn’t easy. You’ve buried parents. You’ve buried sisters and brothers. You’ve sent a son or daughter off to war.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve felt it all. Yet you know that in spite of all the hospitals, all the funerals, and all the losses and disappointments you’ve suffered in life, God is faithful, and He will never, ever, ever let you go.
Think of the words of Isaiah chapter 46: “Even to your old age, I will be the same. And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; I will bear you and I will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4). Or Proverbs chapter 20: “The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old” (Proverbs 20:29). Or Psalm 71: “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18).
You know the story of John Newton, and how he once captained his own ship, and brought slaves, bound and chained, from Africa to England. You know that, one day, in a dark and dangerous storm, when he was afraid for his very life, he gave his heart to God. And you know that, eventually, he gave up the slave trade and became a pastor. He even wrote the words of the most famous hymn of all, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”
But what you may not know is that when he came to the end of his life, at the age of 82, he said to a friend, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”
And that’s the good news for Methuselah, for the newly born, and for all who are somewhere in between--we are great sinners, but Christ is a great Savior.
As Paul once wrote to the Corinthians: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17-18).
We thank You, Father, for Mr. and Mrs. Methuselah and for the witness and faithfulness of the aged. Grant that each of us, whether young or old, may live a life wholly dedicated to You, for Jesus’ sake. Amen