This week I have started a new job. My good friend Jim’s grandfather is not doing so well. He is suffering from Alzheimer’s, among other issues with getting old. His grandmother needs help taking care of him at night. Jim, his brother, and I have started a rotation to help. For a week at a time, one of us will stay the night at their house. We help walk grandpa from his bed to the bathroom throughout the night. Whenever he needs to get up, grandma comes and wakes us up and we go help out. It could happen twice a night, it could happen eight times, really just depends on how grandpa is doing. It can create some long nights with little sleep, but that’s what comes with the job. And what we are doing is helping out his grandma tremendously. It is a pretty big sacrifice on our part, but we are getting paid to do it, and paid pretty well.
This summer I will be the head counselor for Camp Skyline at the Alexander Family YMCA. Tonight we kicked off our staff training. So this week I am now working early arrivals before school, then work the after school program I run from 3-6, then have staff training 3 days this week from 6:30-9:30. Since this is my week of helping grandpa duty, after staff training I head straight to Jim’s grandparents so I can be there for the night. This is my third night of helping out, and today I found myself thinking (and practically praying), “I really hope grandpa doesn’t wake up that many times tonight so I can get some sleep.” On my way to their house something hit me like a ton of bricks. My attitude and thoughts towards this were so selfish. Here I was saying I was willing to help someone out, I was willing to sacrifice my time and my sleep (and I was getting paid to do it), and I am hoping and praying that it will be easy. I am hoping that I really don’t have to do anything. I am hoping that I can get what I need and be comfortable. What a jerk I am. I really was hoping I didn’t have to sacrifice anything. I was hoping that I could offer my assistance to look good, but not really have to actually give it. I wanted all the blessing without any of the sacrifice. God captured my thoughts tonight and convicted the mess out of me. Oswald Chambers said it like this, “If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is. Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult.” Jesus said it like this in John 15:12-14, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”
How many times have we “offered sacrifice” because we feel an obligation to, but have no real desire to? How many times have we told someone, “Well if no one else can, I guess I’ll be able to,” when they asked us for help? How many times have we offered help, but deep down we are hoping they already have enough help that they won’t need us? Or when we actually do help someone, how many times do we hope it will be as easy and quick as possible so we can just get it over with and get on with the stuff we need to do? Where is the love in that??? Jesus commanded us to lay down our lives. When I think of laying down my life I think back to something men used to do, take off their coat and lay it over a puddle for women to cross and stay dry. They would sacrifice everything about that coat, just so someone else could have dry shoes and feet. They knew their coat would get soaked. They knew it would get dirty. They knew there was a chance it could be completely ruined. They also knew that after they did this, they probably wouldn’t be able to put it back on. So now their clothes would get soaked if it was still raining. If you really look at it, there was no desirable outcome for the man. They had nothing to gain from it. The only reason they would take off their coat and lay it on a puddle was for the benefit of the woman.
When we go to lay down our life for others, we need to do just that. We may get dirty, we may get soaked, we may be inconvenienced, we may lose sleep, we may not get things done that we had intended to, we might sweat, we might cry, we might be pushed, we may not enjoy it, we might not have time for it, we may actually lose something. But that is the point. In the face of all the “negative” outcomes we can come up with, are we still joyously willing to do it? Jesus died on the cross for us. I am sure that Jesus ran through all the other options He had, the other ways He could try to remedy the situation. In Luke 22:42 He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I don’t think Jesus thought, “Oh man being nailed to a cross is going to be so much fun!!!” He didn’t enjoy going through the process of being beaten repeatedly, having to carry a ridiculously heavy cross a great distance, and then being hung from it to die from suffocation. It was tough, it was painful, it was deadly, yet He did it anyway. He did it for us. He did it because He loves us. And now He is asking us to do the same for others. John 13:35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” The greatest way to show that love is to lay down our lives for one another. Let’s stop selfishly sacrificing. Let’s sacrifice out of love, out of a desire to lift someone up, even if it means putting us down. Jesus loved us that way, now it’s our turn to show that love to others.
until next time…