John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Laying down life for another is the single greatest act of love and devotion that one human can show for another. When we think about this, we often have this dramatic picture of a man or woman drawing their final breath, as blood seeps through the jacket they wear. The bullets have been flying and the final words are gasped out, inspiring the hero to go and finish the job, hunt down the villains, and claim victory as the movie credits roll.
But that’s not life. That’s not the way this works. That’s not the way this works at all.
We may picture police officers, firemen, soldiers, doctors, nurses, and EMTs. But this morning, I want you to picture the husband attending his wife of 50 years, as she fights sickness; picture the mother fighting to reclaim her addicted son, as he fights off drugs; and picture the child caring for her elderly mother, as her mother slips further into dementia.
Laying down ones life is a choice to serve. It usually doesn’t happen in a dramatic scene complete with burned out cars in the background. No, it happens much more quietly. It happens moment by moment, day by day. It happens one breath to the next. It happens not in a blur, but at a crawl.
Very few of us will ever be called upon to push someone from the path of a speeding bus. More of us will be called upon to hold the hand of someone in the path of a creeping disease. Almost none of us will be asked to take a bullet for another. Most of us will instead be asked to set aside the brightly colored wishes in our minds and choose to serve our brothers and sisters.
Make no mistake: A life laid down becomes a life well lived. There is no greater service. There is no greater love.
Think for a moment – has there ever been a wife who “dreamed” of caring for her husband dying of cancer? No. It’s a choice to lay down our life to care for another. It’s a form of denying self and taking up the Cross. No one EVER hoped to wipe the drool from their elderly parents mouth! No one EVER said – “I hope my wonderful child needs rescue from drug addiction” or “I hope I get to care for my daughter after a horrific car accident disables her”!
Greater love has no person than to put his or her life on hold and love another, love that person through sickness and difficulty and even death. The love is demonstrated with every tick, tick, tick of the clock. Every breath given is a breath that will never return. Yet, they choose to give this time.
Take a moment today and thank a caregiver. Thank the unseen. Thank the one laying down his life in quiet and humble ways. We all choose how we spend each tick of the clock. People who truly love spend each tick loving others.