We recently returned from Yosemite and it was an amazing trip for myself, my husband, and our three kids. When I say that we saw beauty beyond description, I'm not exaggerating in the least. We started out at Mariposa Grove to the east of the entrance and saw the most amazing Sequoia trees you could imagine. From the Faithful Couple, the Bachelor and the Three Graces, the Fallen Monarch, to the Grizzly Giant, the camera simply couldn't shoot pictures quickly enough.
Later in the week we enjoyed a couple of days down in the Valley, where we started to get wet almost as soon as we entered the paved pathway a few hundred yards from the actual Bridal Veil Falls. The power of the water was enough to take your mind off of your own worries and to transfix your thoughts instead upon the energy right in front of you. But, these Falls had to take second place in majesty and awesomeness when compared to the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls farther in. Two thousand, four hundred, and twenty-five feet of uncontrolled, tenacious, and fearless water falls like a passionate war-song.
And if you've been to Yosemite yourself, you know it's the kind of place where you start telling people about your stories only to be outdone by their own personal tales. You had the fantastic luck of spotting a brown bear cub while walking back from Mirror Lake but then so-and-so saw an even bigger bear cub with its mom twirling into town near the Village. But there's one story that I believe can never be outdone. And it's one that comes straight from the mouth of my father-in-law about one of his former dental patients. It seems almost too amazing to be true, but stick with me, we're all gonna glean some amazing wisdom from it.
As we showed my father-in-law our plethora of slide-show pictures, he began to tell us this story about his former patient's son. He told us how the patient's daughter-in-law accidentally slipped over the edge of Upper Yosemite Falls. Of how she couldn't catch her balance and fell to an imminent death. But what comes next defies logic. Then, seeing that the wife was trapped in a helpless situation, the adult son dove in over the mighty Falls attempting to save her. It was a hopeless and unreasonable attempt due to the water's unforgiving strength and might. As the sky darkened and the moon-lit night reluctantly buried the daylight in its grip, family members' useless search came to an end. It was concluded that neither of the two lovers made it out of the Falls alive.
Hearing true stories about passionate love, the kind people die for, makes me pause. How can you hear something like this without marveling at its significance? As I processed what that sacrifice meant, after our own recent family vacation surrounded by such tremendous beauty, it really got me thinking. Do I love like that? From a Biblical background, I know that true love lays itself down for another. But could I actually dive in after someone I loved? If I knew I would die, would I give up my own life anyways? Because "what if" might just be enough, somehow?
The challenge I brought back with me from the wonderment of Yosemite and from this story is to love with a persistent and sacrificial kind of love. So often, I feel that we are all looking out for ourselves, for our own needs, for our own long to-do lists. We frequently feel burdened when we have to serve others because we ourselves are so tired, weighed down, and limited. But think of that man who dove over that edge peering down atop two thousand feet of water-blanketed granite. If there was any way he could save his beloved, well, he was certainly going to try, no matter what the cost.
I don't think it has to take a crazy story like this one to challenge us to love one another better as human beings. But then again, maybe it does take something this intense to rock us from our apathetic states of self absorption. We need to be reminded that it's good to love our loved ones well. So here it is, my challenge to you: LOVE TODAY LIKE IT MIGHT BE YOUR LAST DAY! Let others tell the story of your love, of how you were willing to save your loved ones' lives. Of how you never gave up on them, no matter how futile the cause. Maybe for you it's an alcoholic child or a drug addicted sibling. It could be a spouse that deals with chronic depression. Or a parent with Alzheimer's disease. Or a friend who keeps falling in love with the wrong, abusive men. Don't give up on her or him or them!
Loving these relatives or friends might feel overwhelming at times. But it doesn't have to be as dramatic as jumping over the Falls to show how much you care. A life of sacrificial love is often built from small things, step by step, one act of kindness at a time. Perhaps you could take a half-day at work to spend some time with your loved one over an early dinner and a walk around the lake. You might just choose to use twenty minutes to write a lonely grandparent an email or an actual letter, instead of Facebooking for two hours this Saturday morning. You could send a care package to one of our military's soldiers who needs some encouragement instead of buying four more Starbucks drinks for yourself this month. It might be as easy as a meal and some flowers for a friend who recently got divorced.
Whether you're called to sacrifice in drastic ways or in a smaller, less significant fashion, you will bless your loved ones' lives as you give of yourself and of your resources along the way. Just step out and demonstrate a few loving deeds to a friend or family member today. Give this love-challenge a chance to bloom and let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear from you. Keeping it real. :)