I spent a beautiful evening with family tonight, witnessing and celebrating the marriage of one of my youngest cousins. It's been a spectacular weekend and the night culminated with all of us letting loose, dancing, laughing, and having fun together. Through it all, a passage from the Bible kept coming to me:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 10-14 NIV
The words are beautiful and true and as I laughed and watched all my younger cousins having fun and my aunts and uncles dancing, I was so thankful for all these people who've shared so much of life with me. Many watched us being born, and we'll watch many of them die. We've mourned together over losses, and danced together (like tonight) to celebrate new beginnings. I watched my cousin and his beautiful new bride starting out their life together, and having gone before them on this journey, I know that life has so many things to offer. Some of those things are so beautiful, like new homes and babies and perfect moments on the back porch. Some things are ugly like death and disappointments and failures. The beauty of a family like ours, though, is that they love you no matter what. No matter what season of life you are in, there's never a shortage of arms around you to share in your joy or your sorrow, to lift you up, to set you straight, to dance with you, or even just to search with you.
This life can be hard! But, it is always "beautiful in its time." And I'm so grateful for the people who I have gotten the privilege of doing this dance called life with! Just as the bible says: God has set eternity in our hearts, although we can't begin to fathom what that really is. I have to believe, though, that nights like tonight are a snapshot of it: A building full of people eating, drinking, dancing, and enjoying the fruits of their toil. A building full of people who love each other genuinely and without fail.