Caravan Sonnet: From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week 28): The Legacy of Sacrificial Love

8/30/17

From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week 28): The Legacy of Sacrificial Love

One of the fun aspects of  Season 2 of When Calls the Heart,  was the "advice" that Rosemary imparted to everyone in the town in her comments and in her newspaper column. This particular quote, which came from the 2nd episode of Season 2 made for quite a few giggles I am sure, but as I thought more about the concept of committing and giving our hearts away I was challenged to consider the legacy of sacrificial love. 

Back when I was in college my university would hold an annual "missions week" every spring. All throughout the week we would be introduced to a couple hundred different missionaries who were spending their lives near and far from around the world making a difference in communities. These missionaries and their families consistently gave sacrificially of their time, their money, and most of all their lives. All throughout the week we heard amazing and miraculous stories of "big scale" things that were happening and stories of heroic tales of seeing entire villages come to know Christ. It was inspiring. It was moving. It was incredibly inspirational.

In my fourth year of university, shortly before I was to graduate, the missions week was held again. This year, I and other students, continued to hear about a "special missionary couple" that were coming to speak. I was excited and thrilled as I assumed that like many of the speakers in the past this couple would have an amazing story. As the week approached I continued to hear how the president of my college was so excited as this couple were guest speakers whom he had been asking for years to come.

The week arrived and all throughout the week we heard incredible stories of what was happening around the world, yet we all were curious about this special couple that so many people mentioned. The stories continued and by the time that this man and his wife got up to speak I and so many others had placed them as a "miracle couple" and were convinced that they had most likely seen hundreds of thousands of people committing their lives to God and were incredibly "successful". 

Imagine our shock and silence when we saw the couple who instead of proudly announcing their achievements, couldn't stop shaking out of nervousness. In the first five seconds the man tripped on his way to the podium and the wife accidentally knocked over the water glasses that had been set for them on the podium. 

Our first impressions continued to be skeptical as they began to tell their story, including naming a jungle village that 99% of us in the room had never heard of. And then they shared in the first few minutes that their greatest dream and prayer for their life had come true. After spending nearly their entire lives in that jungle village and more than four decades they had seen one person come to know Christ. 

The building of nearly 5000 people went completely silent. Gone were our visions of grandeur and success. Gone was the idea and concept of what made a life truly worthwhile. Confused and skeptical faces and eyes darted back and forth between our college president, the missionaries that had spoken highly of this couple, and the couple before us on stage. 

But as they continued to speak and share countless stories of circumstances that included flooding, sickness, the loss of a child, and more discouragement than I could ever have imagined in my young life I, along with the rest of the student body felt less confused and more amazed. 

In a day and age where most people would have thrown in the towel or used any number of these circumstances mentioned as justification to abandon their calling, this couple had quietly and sacrificially given their lives for love. Despite the heartache they faced and the discouragement that encouraged them to quit, they pressed on, day after day, imperfectly loving those around them and believing with a kind of childlike stubborn faith that their lives would not be in vain. By the end of their time there was not a dry eye in the auditorium, and even writing this now I have tears running down my cheeks. 

"I realized how little I knew of what makes a true missionary statesman; of a faith that never staggers at the promise of God, no matter how incredible to the natural man its fulfillment seems; of a trust in the Unchanging One, Who keeps the heart at rest and unperturbed in a changing world; of a burning love that counts not life dear until itself, but is expendable for God; and of a vision that is never dimmed."

You see my college president gave us the best gift he could have ever given a group of college students... the beautiful lesson of the legacy of sacrificial love. 

What if at the end of our lives our greatest achievement is having loved one person? What if at the end of our lives our greatest success and dream coming true was seeing one person come to know Christ? Would it be enough for us? Would we see the way that an entire world can be changed by the legacy of sacrificial love? Would we risk everything for committing our hearts to sacrificial love no matter the cost to ourselves?

At the end of their session we gave a standing ovation to this couple and I knew that my life had been changed forever. There is a beauty that can't be described as you witness greatness and courage of sacrificial love. There is a knowing that the sacrifice of loving someone deeply comes at a great cost. A cost to our time, sometimes our financial resources, often times our physical capabilities, and most of all our emotional well. Loving someone day in and day out isn't always pretty and won't bring the fame that the world often tells us is so important. Sometimes loving people does become an amazing powerful display, and yet other times loving someone is done quietly, in the dark, over the course of a lifetime... where there is no applause..no standing ovation...and no one to cheer you on. 

It is done in the messy day-to-day lives that we live. It is the young mama changing a countless diaper, practically loving her little one despite the fact that she is incredibly sleep deprived and probably would just like a nice hot bath. It is the father who works tirelessly to lovingly provide for his family, despite the fact that it is at a great cost to himself. It is the teacher who spends her last bit of energy loving the kiddos in the classroom before her, despite the hundreds of complaints that file in about what she is doing wrong. It is the co-worker taking the time to listen to the same story, the same issues, the same problems day after day, knowing that listening is a gift. It is the young and the old sacrificially spending hours upon hours in prayer for another when there seems to be no change. 

It is a single -hearted devotion to understanding that there is a legacy of sacrificial love that is incomparable. 

"...Honestly, this is the first moment in my adult life that I have stood in the spotlight. Truth be told it will probably be the last. Why? Because I am one of those people who works in the dark. I know what you are thinking... In this world of relentless self-promotion, we have all been raised to think that the limelight is the only light worth seeking. That isn't the case, and if I can impart one thing today... a small simple truth to carry with you... it's this... achievement is often anonymous. Some of the greatest things have been done by people you have never heard of. Quietly dedicating their lives to improving your own..."

So today dear friends let us be challenged to live "in the dark", consistently and quietly behind the scenes continuing to love those before us deeply and without reserve. Let us commit our hearts, throw open wide the well of love and invest in another. We may never get to tell our stories before a crowd of 5000 college students who will give us a standing ovation, but we can rest in the knowledge that nothing we do in love is ever wasted... knowing that there is a legacy we are leaving of sacrificial love.

"Love never gives up. 
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always 'me first'...
It takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything, 
Trusts God always, 
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies."
-I Corinthians 13, The Message-


*The first quote that I referenced is by Darlene Diebler Rose who was a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp in World War II. She shared her story in her book, "Evidence Not Seen" which can be found on Amazon HERE

*The second quote is taken from the television show, Madam Secretary, season 2, the final episode. You can find the episode HERE

Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals! 

*Please note that the quotes used in these weekly devotionals are the sole intellectual property of Hallmark Channel, WCTH, & Crown Media, LLC. These on-line posts are in no way supported, endorsed or affiliated with WCTH, Hallmark Channel, or Crown Media. They are simply encouragement inspired by Janette Oke and this precious show.*

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