Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.
The Message puts John 15:12-13 this way, "Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends."
This, so far, is my favorite picture from Becca’s wedding last Saturday, really, for a couple of reasons.
One, it’s just typical of how our family rolls. We don’t just bustle a wedding gown, that would be too easy, and boring. Nope, we turn it into a, for lack of a better word, fiasco.
The dress had multiple layers that had to be bustled before Becca entered the reception. Knowing this, my daughter in law, Sarah Kathryn, and I practiced our bustling several times. We had it down pat. We were ready, or so we thought.
Well, when time came to bustle, we could not for the life of us find all the buttons and loops that we needed to find. It was hot, we were sweating, and gnats were flying up our noses. We had layers of wedding gown over our heads, which of course made things even hotter. Then to make things even more frustrating, we had irritating husbands trying to rush us. It was about to get ugly, fast.
I looked behind me and saw Tony, the new husband, just standing there so I decided to put him to good use. I called him over, handed him the top layers of the dress and asked him, ok, more like ordered him, to hold them up so we could see what we were doing. He raised the dress but then hesitated.
“Am I allowed to do this?” he asked as he looked in the direction of Becca’s father.
So, Tony stood there with the dress way up in the air while Sarah Kathryn and I frantically looked for buttons and loops. Cars blew their horns as they passed by and there were a few wise cracks here and there.
We never found all the loops and buttons so we gave up and told Becca we hoped she wouldn’t trip. Truthfully, by that point we really didn’t care whether she tripped or not but we felt that we needed to at least pretend like we did since it was somewhat of an important day and all.
This brings me to the second reason why I love this picture. Those of you who have already married off a daughter will not believe me when I say this, but bustling Becca's dress was the most stressful part of the entire wedding for me.
And now this brings me to the verse in John 15. Most of us know this verse well. I’m sure we would like to think we are the type of friend Jesus is talking about, one that would lay down her life for another friend. But the truth is, the majority of us will never actually be called to such a task.
But as I looked at this picture, and realized that it was my most stressful moment, that verse is the exact one that came to my mind. See, while no one had to lay down her life for me, there were several friends who laid down something almost as hard…their time. And because they did, I was able to enjoy every minute with my daughter leading up to her wedding. Instead of running around the last few days, dealing with last minute details, I was able to enjoy precious time with my daughter. All because there were friends willing to lay down their time and that laying down of time was not easy for several of them. In fact, it was sacrificial.
One friend put together all the flowers – every last one of them. That might not seem like such a big deal, unless you factor in the fact that her youngest son graduated from high school that Saturday morning. When I tried to release her from her commitment, she wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted to make sure that I was able to enjoy my only daughter’s wedding, even if it cost her.
Another friend delivered food to the bride room for the bride and bridesmaids. Again, not necessary sacrificially until you consider the fact that she was moving to another city in a few short days and was in the middle of packing up her house. By the way, she made the food herself.
Other friends gave up their time to haul things, cut greenery, decorate, make food, direct the wedding, apply makeup, take pictures, and grab last minute necessities.
At the end of the night, they were exhausted, but I was not. And while none of them were called to lay down their physical lives, they all “put their lives on the line” in that they put their lives on hold to serve a sister. They loved me the way Jesus loves, sacrificially, selflessly, without thought for themselves or their own comfort.
From now on, when you and I read John 15:12-13, let’s realize in full what Jesus is saying. The standard of love that Jesus was calling His disciples to was a love that is demonstrated by humble sacrificial service. A dying to self for the love of another.
To my precious friends, thank you. You loved me well and you were a beautiful reflection of our Savior and His love.
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