Is it possible to sum up 50 years of marriage in one sentence? Without missing a beat Bob says, ?we are finally in a good place.? While Sherri is still pondering the question, Bob elaborates, ?it has been a rocky road with loss, tradition, ups and downs, ins and outs, cancer, sciatica, trials and tribulations and if it all ended today, it would be God?s grace through the fog illuminating our circumstances.
Desire of Her Heart
Sherri beams with moist eyes when she says, I received the desire of my heart to marry for love.? This marriage has been one where God was at the helm.Sherri pondered what life would have been like if God had not arranged their meeting all those years ago. Bob was from Indiana and Sherri was from Oklahoma and God arranged a meeting in Clovis, New Mexico when Bob was called for active duty in the Vietnam War.Sherri?s father was a career pilot in the Air Force and this was just one more move for the family.
Car Hop at Foxy’s
Sherri was a car hop at Foxy?s Drive-In when she first laid eyes on Bob (who was on a date with another girl at the time.)? They caught each other's eye and Bob bravely enlisted a friend to ask Sherri if she would agree to go out on a date with Bob. And as only Sherri could do, she rolled her eyes and said ?Uhh Yes! Bob took her out the week before her 19th birthday on August 29th and they were married November 22nd just three months later. Then Bob was shipped off to Thailand and the war while Sherri stayed behind with her parents anxiously awaiting his return.
Trials and Tribulations
In 50 years life happens. Children are born. Romance falls prey to disillusionment. Cancer strikes. A daughter dies days before her 16th birthday. Faith is tested in the furnace of affliction. Victory comes when the Lord is given the opportunity to work on our behalf. The trials pass. The choice is ours in how we react.
God Saved the Best for Last
Fast forward fifty years and what have Bob and Sherri learned? They both agree ?God has saved the best for last.? Bob says ?God changes hearts. I was silent when I needed to speak, deaf when I needed to hear. Our destiny was written by God long before we were born. While we are made in God?s image, He gave us free will. We can alter our destiny by the act of our will. We can block all the good things the Lord has already planned for us by doing it our way. A changed heart is the basis of the goodness of God for our lives and for our future.? We are designed to take the inheritance Jesus died for. My destiny is to live life abundantly being fully me being overlaid by God.
Sherri knows her destiny well.My destiny is knowing my identity in Christ and my Christ-given authority as well. I am a minister of freedom, teaching others how to break free to live fully. I make it my business to destroy the plans of the devil. While we are indeed created in God?s image, there is uniqueness in each of us.Speaking a blessing on others changes the atmosphere. It breaks curses and allows others to fulfill their God-given destiny.
?The devil knew God?s destiny for me and he knew my heart for a healing ministry? Sherri said. The devil unleased his best efforts at thwarting this effort. On a vacation trip to Panama Beach, Bob hurt his back and was in horrible pain. The trip home was excruciating. Bob endured six months of horrendous suffering. Sherri spiraled into a pit of despair almost losing her faith when she let fear overtake her.
The devil was winning until suddenly, the Lord orchestrated an invitation for Bob and Sherri to attend a conference where an anointed man of God imparted peace upon Sherri. The power of God?s peace truly transcends all understanding and it did guard Sherri?s heart and mind in Christ. Sherri reflects on the lessons learned from the experience, I learned compassion during the six months Bob was suffering from terrible sciatica and insomnia. I know compassion is essential for a healing ministry which is the desire of my heart. God taught me compassion for the afflicted in the storm.
Sherri also recalls in her early 30?s, home alone with four young children and Bob working seven days a week, she became disillusioned and disappointed.Looking back, I was the one who opened the door to misery. When you entertain disappointment and disillusionment, you open the door to everything that is wrong. You get depressed and discouraged.? God spoke to Sherri telling her He created the Earth and everything in it. All He wanted was for her to say ?yes? and He would change her heart. Sherri said ?yes? to God?s destiny for her and He changed her heart in short order. She had to make the first move.
Holy Spirit Anesthesia
Bob and Sherri both agree on the power of prayer. When they lost their daughter Christa days before her 16th birthday, the Lord applied what they call ?Holy Spirit Anesthesia.? Sherri said ?The Lord made our marriage strong enough to survive losing a child. We have the assurance Christa is in heaven and we will see her one day soon.? The same is true of the aggressive cancer Bob endured ten years ago. He did not suffer alone. A 24/7 prayer team was orchestrated by a family member and once again ?Holy Spirit Anesthesia? was applied until the trial passed.
Minister of Freedom
Sherri became a minister of Freedom when the Lord helped her to learn forgiveness.? ?He showed me how to pluck out the bitter root. Unforgiveness and bitterness defiles everything around us. If I accept the Lord as sovereign, being completely in control, I must shut out the negativity bitterness brings.
Bob and Sherri are deeply in love with each other which they say comes from falling deeply in love with Jesus. The relationship of intimacy Jesus provides is the desire of their hearts for all to experience.
Standing in the Gap
So in their 50th year of marriage and in retirement, Bob and Sherri are impacting the world with prayer. The prophet Ezekiel gives these words of the Lord I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. Ezekiel 22:30? ?Bob and Sherri realize the importance of Standing in the Gap or praying for others. They understand there is Supernatural hope for our nation. They pray into the atmosphere of the family, of the workplace, of the city, of the state and of the nation and for all the world. They are alive in God for this time and this day.
We are richly blessed by their example.
Bob and Sherri Hillebrand? ? ? ? ? ? ?50 Years? ? ? ? November 22, 1967