I took a lot of wedding photos this past summer. I had so many things to learn at each one. God is forever stretching my boundaries and teaching me how He works through everything and everyone. This wedding here, I had taken up for a beautiful native couple. What fun I had! I was the only white woman at the wedding and there was so much to learn and observe as I watched the people during this entire day. The natives are a very laid back people - time is not crunching as it is in our white culture. If things ran late, that was okay - the world didn't end. At times I feel we allow time to control us way too much. Even though things were late, people were not stressed out. The next morning my family was late for breakfast at church by 10 minutes and we're freaking out! WOW! Are we ever high strung! Way too time restricted. We really choose to be so controlled and it shouldn't be that way. I had a wonderful day with this lovely couple and we took many beautiful pictures. I loved the setting they chose to have their pictures taken. Time did not rush us - it was okay that we were late - everyone forgave us - rather they expected things to be late. And it was okay.
The verse I chose for this couple comes from Jeremiah - God knows the plans that He has laid out for us - plans to give us a future and a hope - not plans to harm us. God is so good! He loves us all - He made us all - and He knows the outcome of each of our lives. These two people love each other and God brought them together. He has a purpose in mind for each of them and for a purpose for them together. As they journey through this marriage together, God will have His hand in their lives. And as they learn to trust in Him fully, they will be incredibly blessed.
What is love?? Love is all of these things. In our married lives, we really come to know what each of these aspects are about. Can you imagine love without any of these traits? It would not be a complete love. I've failed so many times at many of these characteristics but God is so forgiving and patient with me and guides me through every step of the way. When I think of the passage on the above photo with the wedding couple, God knows the plans that He has mapped out for us. This plan includes learning to love ourselves, learning to love others and learning to love God wholeheartedly. I yearn for this deep kind of love and only God can give it to me. There is no way possible that I am able to love in this way on my own. No way on this earth. Because that wasn't God's plan. He does not plan for us to journey this earth alone and confused. If we let Him, he guides us and holds our hand each step of the way and He provides us with His strength to endure every hardship and to love others the way He has planned for us to love. He created us to love - to love Him, to love ourselves because we are made in His image and to love those around us because they were all created in His image as well. We don't always make the choices that He desires us to make, but as we acknowledge them and realize the wrong choices that we make, and ask His forgiveness, He forgives us and gives us more chances to make the right choices that He's teaching us to make through His Word the Holy Bible. Thank you God for this. Teach us to love with your unfailing love.
Then it comes time for love within our own families. A Christian parent's greatest desire is for their children to follow the Lord, to believe in God and in His Son Jesus that He sent to die for our sins and to have eternal life. Jesus did not stay on that cross, but rose again on 3rd day and lives now in Heaven to prepare an eternal home for us. That is the Lord's desire for us as His children and that is a Christian parent's desire for their children. That they will grow in the knowledge and the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. This takes love. Why? Because we all make individual choices and we all make mistakes. Parents love their kids no matter what - through all the good and bad choices of their lives. We are all capable of taking the wrong road at one point or another but when we know that someone loves us through those wrong choices, what a difference that can make. Each family has a story to tell and each family has it's own challenges. But when we love each other, and pray for each other and encourage each other, familes can come through anything together. When a families motto is, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," it doesn't matter what happens to an individual, any attacks from the enemy, the Devil, to destroy that family will not happen. Things may fall apart for a time, but God has ways to bring families and individuals back to Him. His purpose for you in life is to have hope, not for you to despair or to give up. Families will be saved through love - love each other through the rough roads and valleys and rejoice together at the mountaintop experiences. "Be of good courage and do not fear, says the Lord. For I am with you. I will never leave you. I am always with you." These are God's words, not mine.
This one's a biggy. WHEW! It calls us to serve one another with love. What does it mean to serve? It means not to put yourself above anyone or anything - it means to be humble and do what you can to help others. Servanthood is a great sacrifice that we can make for one another. This is what marriage and family are all about - serving each other. How do we do things for others, do we carry them out with bitterness, resentment, duty and anger or do we do things for others out of love? God calls us to love unconditionally and again we can't do this without the love of God in us. We need God's love to unconditionally love others. God is love. We can be doing many things for others out of selfish ambition or to get a pat on the back but God calls us to love with no expectations in return. Wow! Do I still have a lot to learn!
Our culture is so much into "me" - do it for me, do it for yourself, you deserve it, it's all about you, you can be all you want to be, set your mind to is cause you can do it.... It goes on and on. God and self-sacrifice are completely out of the picture. Life is not all about me - all about us. It is about living out the purpose that God has for us in our lives here on earth and loving Him and others. Life is about serving others in love. Serving your family, your spouse, your church, your kids, your neighbors, serving God.....not serving ourselves. And serving those around us, not out of duty or selfish ambition, but serving in love. Serving because we are loved so much by God and serving because God calls that of us.
This picture above is of a bride and groom washing each other's feet. They began their marriage ceremony washing each other's feet, showing each other that they are there to serve the other. In the Bible, Jesus washed His disciples feet. He said, "the greatest among you must become the servant." He also said that He "didn't come to be served, but to serve." Jesus chose to serve His disciples and to set an example of what it is to be a servant. He wants the Christians, those who believe in Him, to be an example of servants as well. He is calling us to Serve one another in Love.
Lord, these are high callings you are calling us to. Give us the strength, the desire and the courage to stand boldly for you and to love one another, to serve one another in love, to teach our children to follow you and to serve you, and to be confident of the plans that you have set out for us - plans to give us a future and a hope (eternal life through Jesus Christ). Your plans are not to harm us O Lord, but to prosper us. Thank you for this promise. In Jesus name, Amen.