Sunday Rewind: Happily Ever After, Hope

Being a parent is a big deal!  Whether through birth, adoption, or as an assistant/surrogate parent helping others with their children, the responsibility to love and guide another human being is an enormous responsibility and gift!  You pour your heart, your energy, your passion into their lives.  You cry, you ache, and you hope for their very best.  You do all of this with no guarantee that the lessons you’ve taught them or the love you’ve shared will be returned.  You simply do your very best, let go, and hope.

Letting go scares me.  My children are still young.  But I know there will be a day, fast approaching, where I must let go.  They will make their own decisions, live with their own consequences, and chose their own path.  Sure, I’ll be there hoping and helping…but the decisions will be theirs.  I’ve heard it explained that letting go is allowing your heart to walk outside your body.  My heart aches just thinking about it.

Writing these words, I can’t help but assume the joy, hope, and ache that resides within the hart of God for us.  Carefully and artfully knit together, each unique, every child of God is loved beyond measure and free to choose their own path.  God has done everything possible to be united with us, freeing us from the eternal weight of sin through Jesus Christ.  Yet the decision is still ours.  God always stays nearby, arms open wide, hoping we choose God’s love, God’s grace, God’s justice, God’s holiness…hoping we chose to follow Jesus Christ.  Yet we children can be so selfish, so stubborn, so self-centered, and so very blind.  I simply can’t imagine the ache in God’s heart when we go astray.  For love and freedom, God let’s go.  In love and grace, God hopes we return.  So, we too must let go of our children…and hope in love and grace that they return.

What happens when my children chose unhealthy paths, dangerous journeys, and experience difficult consequences?  I dread the thought.  You want to know one of my biggest fears?  What if my daughter wants me to give her away in marriage to someone I fear deep in my soul is dangerous or wrong for her?  Giving away in marriage is maybe the most formal ceremony of letting go a father must endure.  That thought terrifies me.  Yet, even in heartache, I struggle to comprehend the joy that would come from entrusting my daughter to someone I trust will honor and live sacrificially for her until death parts them.  I will do all in my power to love and guide my daughter in wisdom so that she choses wisely…then I will hope.

God hopes for us.  There is a wedding date in our future.  When Jesus Christ returns, the Church Universal will take her place as the bride of Christ.  I can’t imagine the pageantry of that moment when the God of all Creation gives this bride to Jesus.  One day, and oh will it be glorious, the followers of Jesus Christ will experience their happily ever after for eternity.  Until then, we chose and ready ourselves…and God hopes.  God hopes for our best.

So we have freedom.  With every resource of God’s available to us in preparation and training, we have a freedom to chose.  What kind of bride will we be?  Will we trust in God, draw near through the power of the Holy Spirit, and be presented holy and radiant?  Or will we chose pride and self-centeredness?  Will we want our own way, demand our own honor, and seek our own glory?

If you have the time, listen to this past Sunday’s message, Our Inner Bridezilla.  There is a battle that wages within us, and within the church, as we decide who we will honor.  Many of us seek our own glory!  We become obsessed with our own way.  And as James 4 shares…we harm and even kill to get it.  Yet God continues, even in our disobedient aggression, to hope and to love.

If you’ve been a Bridezilla…if you know in your heart you’ve gone astray…then I want to invite you to return to God’s open arms.  Like a hopeful loving parent, God can’t wait for your return.  Humility is the first step.  Its hard to acknowledge I’ve been wrong.  But to turn towards God necessitates recognizing that our current direction is wrong.  We don’t get it right immediately…we simple say, I’ve been wrong.  Falling into the arms of our gracious God makes it, makes us, right.  Then we move forward, seeking to honor our groom, Jesus Christ.  We chose to do what love requires, and trust that love will be returned.  We honor Jesus and hope in the LORD.  Having known the emptiness of being a Bridezilla, we find the fullness of God’s love becomes an unending well of healing, life, and joy.

If you choose to allow God’s grace in your life through Jesus Christ, I invite you to share this decision with others.  Share with people that will help guide you and teach you.  Share with people who will support you…and who will need your support.  And share with people who remain set in their own desires and divergent paths from God.  They need to see God’s hope lived vibrantly before them.  Don’t hide in fear, but live in joy.  Share God’s joy as God’s hope is fulfilled in you.

I hope for my children.  God hopes for us.  May God’s heart not break for our failure, but may we instead find grace and joy in God’s Son, Jesus.  May we turn in humility, honor Jesus, and Hope in the LORD.  May we see God’s hopes for us fulfilled as we are presented to Jesus Christ as a radiant bride.  May the world see the love of God vibrantly lived through us.  May we know our happily ever after is just around the corner,when Christ returns.

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