When the Heart Kneels

My husband recently had a “bro night.” Apparently if girls can have girl time then guys have bro nights; you know, equality and all. Usually I’m not interested in whatever activity is taking place but it just so happens that they decided to go see a movie that I had been anticipating the release of for awhile. I find that the universal theme of heroism resonates no matter the age or gender. The movie industry banks millions, probably billions, of dollars a year on movies that show the selfless act of an individual towards another. So it is no surprise that the recently released movie “American Sniper” is destroying the competition and breaking opening records for this past weekend.

Now this is not a pro- or anti- military post. It is not pro- or anti- war. It is simply to be used as an example of our deep love of heroism. It can be found outside of the military lifestyle; in selfless acts of protecting others in school shootings, terrorist acts, or risking one’s life to save another from fires, car wrecks, or countless other life threatening situations. But seeing as how I pull from my personal experiences (ex-military family members, Texan, etc…) then this movie made me think the most about sacrifice.

If you had a chance to read my previous post “When the Heart Grows Legs” then you’ll know I was sharing the sacrifice our heavenly Father made to send His Son Jesus to a dying world. The heartbreak and anguish of a Father seeing His perfect Son given to the world for its sins. I wonder now if you would look at the Son and his choice.

Imagine if you will the son choosing to sacrifice himself for others. As a mother of two boys I can not imagine the anguish that would come with having to bury one of them. I wonder if the way they die matters? Would I feel less pain if I knew they had sacrificed themselves for the greater good? Would dying a hero ease the pain that would surely wash over me every day of my life? No. My answer is NO. The pain would not be easier to take. My son’s sacrifice would be saying more about who he is and less about who I am. I would take comfort in knowing the kind of character that defined him. I would relish the thought of him dancing in heaven and being with God. But the cost of that sacrifice would be incalculable to a me as a parent. So when I hear of religions that teach other ways to God implying that His son Jesus Christ is only one of many avenues to God then honestly I’m dumbfounded. When Jesus says, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. The ONLY way to the Father is through me” well, He’s clear on how many avenues lead to God – 1.

Jesus defines the term hero – selfless sacrifice for the greater good, disregard for one’s own life to save another, an act defined by humility, honor, and bravery. He was born fully man, fully the King of Kings, and with only one thought – the redemption of mankind. At any time of His life He could have lived as an earthly king instead choosing one of servitude. At any moment of distress, He could have called down a legion of angels to fight for Him or guard Him. At the first sign of hunger, He could have turned anything into food. Instead God’s heart, His son, willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice. He said and lived by His Word:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13.

To sacrifice for your loved ones, family or friends, is a noble cause, however, He was sacrificing for the ones who would spit in His face, beat and torture Him, deny Him, mock Him,and eventually, murder Him.

I’ll close with this story:

On a rare sunny day in February, winds are blowing through the early season blooming magnolia trees, a scent of love is smelled and a feeling of warmth is created by the crowd. A man steps forward and begins to speak about love. He is frail but not aged, well dressed but not well spoken. He stumbles through his speech all the while glancing at a lady staring off into the distance. He knows what she is searching for across the tree lines, waiting in anticipation of the arrival of the one she is longing to hold.

Afterwards as the crowd slowly disperses, the man and woman stand rooted in one spot as though they are as unmovable as the magnolia trees around them. Then a young man approaches, a face of a teenage boy but the eyes of a mature man.  He holds out his hand to the man, “Sir, I wanted to thank you personally for your sacrifice.” As the young man continued in a shaky voice, “It was my life that was spared due to your selfless act of protection. I could never repay you for all that you have done for me. You will forever have my respect and love.” The father stood confused as the man turns to walk away. “Son? I don’t know you. Are you sure you are not referring to my son?”

The young man glances down as the casket is being lowered into the ground. “Well, I did serve with your son. He was a great guy. Always kind, generous with his knowledge and resources, and even willing to take the missions no one else wanted. Many around me spoke highly of him, some worshiped the ground he walked on, as though every think that came from his mouth was gospel. On that fateful day in March, it was my life that was saved as your son pushed me down to the dirt, taking that deathly hit to the heart. But I came to acknowledge your sacrifice. You and your wife did an amazing job raising him. Thank you. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please do not hesitate to call upon me.”

The father smiles, “Remember my son. That would be what we ask of you. Acknowledge him as the one who sacrificed himself for you.” The young man stares off, “I’m sorry sir but I can’t do that. You see, your son was just doing what he was told to do, it was his job to be wiling to sacrifice himself for others. I am certain there are many other ways in which I could show my respect and love for you.” The young man waited in anticipation of what other act that father would give him. A grieving father slowly shook his head no as a lone tear slide out of his eye, “The only way to me is through my son.”

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”

A Heart with Legs

Recently a friend of mine’s home was broken into while she was welcoming the birth of her first grandson. What a priceless time to experience such a violation. As I sat recanting the news to my husband, my son who is 8 years old heard our conversation. We used it as an opportunity to go over our family safety plan in the case of a fire or any situation in which we needed to get out of the house. My son said “But mommy what about you and daddy? Who will make sure you are okay?” I replied, “Son, you are our heart. Everything that is priceless to us lives in you. If our children are safe then we can focus on getting out too.” It seemed to reassure him and he had no additional questions but that conversation has stayed with me for the last couple of days.

I don’t live in fear. I anticipate that death will come for each of us at some point and I firmly believe that no man can rob me of my God given appointed time to die nor my children’s time. I am not being insensitive to those who have lost children. To bury a child must be the most….indescribable form of pain to endure. I have a few friends who have lost children and it is agonizing to watch them have their heart decimated into a million pieces. It is why the above quote is a powerful truth. Our children are our heart walking on the outside of our body. If you want to incite my anger do anything against my children. If you want to hurt me to the core then reject my children. If you want to have my undying gratitude then love my children. If you want to know me greater then know my children. All my successes and failures, my mannerisms and bad habits, will stand before you with the most mesmerizing smiles and eyes staring back at you.

As I stood there with that quote rolling around in my head and contemplating all the ways I could be devastated by my children being harmed, it was in that moment that a bigger, greater truth almost floored me. It literally took my breath away and I had no words to respond back as the Spirit released these words back into my existence: For your God, who so loved you, gave HIS one and only son to die so that you would have life eternal with your Father.

“There was a time when probably the best-known Bible verse would have been John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It seemed as though everyone either knew this verse or knew a little bit about it.” (http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-bibles-most-popular-verse-95216/)

Use to be? As though it’s old news replaced by statements like “awe, yeah, I heard that already” or “yeah, I got it, he loved me.” But in that moment the other night, I got a tangible image of God’s love and sacrifice for me. His heart walking in flesh enduring ridicule, rejection, overwhelming responsibility, being hated, and beaten then hung on a cross for all to see. As His mother writhed in agony, never leaving Him, not being able to do anything to change the circumstances. God watching His son being given to the world so that each person would have the choice to accept him or reject him completely. A choice!

We live in times that say “Jesus can’t possibly be the only way!” That you can get to God without having to know Jesus. That the cross is a gruesome exaggeration. Or that you believe Jesus was God clothed in flesh but the death was tolerable because he was God. I’ve never met a parent who found the death of their child tolerable based on the circumstances in which they died, or whether they suffered much or little. God is drawn to the brokenhearted (Psalms 34:18) because He has been there. How could a father allow anyone to reconcile with him if they are still rejecting his son’s sacrifice? Jesus was the sacrificial love and He is the only way.

As a mother who types these words right now, I can say with certainty that I would give myself in a second for God’s will but I pray that the day will never come that I must make a choice to give my children’s life. (That is more end time teaching that I am not called to speak about at this time.) If you are a parent then I am certain you grasp what I am saying to you.  But even if you are not a parent, you are a child and I pray that you would take a moment to ask your Father to reveal His great love for you.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.