Sunday, March 5, 2017

Faith, Hope, LOVE

This weekend I celebrated a major life moment with one of my cousins as she walked down the aisle and into the next chapter of her life. A million memories flooded my heart as I thought about the years we spent growing up, laughing and loving together. I still see us at six and four playing dress up, swimming at the pool, building forts at Thanksgiving out of the moss that hung from the trees, countless adventures and holidays alike as well as dozens of other moments in between. This particular day was about this cousin, but I am truly blessed to have so many amazing cousins. Each one has taught me something unique and I am grateful for the laughter filled life we have shared. 
I was reminded this weekend so many times of the legacy we carve with our lives. Every step, every hope, every dream and every choice leads us down our own aisles of life and into our next chapter. Those before us set a legacy that is still spilling over into all our lives, serving as further proof that the choices we make today are ripples in the pools we see later. How wonderful it is when we can set a foundation for years to come or reap part of the blessing of someone else that did before us. As I listened to the many speeches about the bride and groom and their families I couldn’t help but think about how many lives they had touched and their beautiful stories coming together. It was a picture of people who did it right. It was a picture of what love and life are supposed to look like in Christ.
When it came to things like the wedding toast it wasn’t the silly things they had done (although there were quite a few) that I admired, but rather their hearts—how they served God and loved others, how their laughter and zeal for life was contagious and how together, with God at the center they truly could do great things.
I think we all want to leave our mark in some way, to have our lives be spoken about in such a way that people notice, but that kind of life requires a choice. You don’t get generations of blessing by doing nothing. It requires action. It requires surrender. It requires trust. In a world where popular opinion dominates, it is hard to take a stand, but please take it. Take it not only for yourself and your family, but take it for those who will come behind you. Take it so that someday you can stand before others and be an example of someone who got it right. I’ve seen what it looks like and it’s beautiful. It doesn’t hold regret or shame or sorrow. It is full of hope and promises and life. Don’t compromise your years of legacy for a few quick moments of cultural acceptance. The road stretches far beyond today.
I think one of the most touching parts about this particular wedding was when the father of the groom passed on his blessing and inheritance to his son. What a picture of God, our Father, who desires to give us our blessing and inheritance. Christ is often referred to as the groom and His church the bride, but too often we engage in relationship with Him without entering a covenant. God is dedicating Himself to His people, vowing to love and cherish and hold them for life. In sickness and in health, in good and in bad, God is saying that He will be there. He lovingly looks across the way to His bride and asks, will you do the sameWill you give your heart to Me? Will you delight yourself in Me? Will you go the distance with Me?
My heart was deeply affected by all that it held—the stirring of the Holy Spirit, the beautiful joining of stories and two lives and the families that stood around them this weekend. I thought a lot about legacy and a lot about love. I hope this post will stir you to do the same. God gives us new mercies everyday and the option to choose our legacy from this day forward. I urge you to, “Delight yourself in the Lord and…[let Him] give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Let Him be the first desire of your heart. Live so that you leave an honorable legacy and love as God first loved us. After all, “These three remain: faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). As my mom told me recently: Love well.
-Only Hope
To Madison and Hayden; what a sweet celebration of God’s handiwork. I am blessed to be a part of the ride. Congratulations! To all the other people in my life (friends, family, my parents and grandparents: thank you for your example of love, honor and respect throughout the years. I have watched you stay the course and seen what a beautiful love story can look like when done God's way!

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