“Do you know what the greatest act of love is, My Child?”
God was calling to me again. In the middle of cleaning my room, I began to daydream that God and I, Poppy as I like to call Him, were having another conversation on His porch swing in heaven.
“Doesn’t Jesus say that the greatest act of love is to lay down our lives for another?” I asked Him, trying to remember the verse. He nodded His head, and I could feel the warmth in His arm wrapped around my shoulder. “That’s right,” He told me, but then Poppy asked me something else.
“Do you love your roommates, all of your other friends, and your family?”
I almost laughed at the question because it seemed as though it had to be a rhetorical one. “Of course I do! I would do anything for them, Poppy!”
Still staring off into the distance–the breeze blowing through the treetops in the yard outside the porch–He began to paint the picture of a scenario, one that many ponder of but pray would never come.
“So let’s say that you are in your apartment with your roommates. It’s pretty late, and all of a sudden, someone breaks into your house. A big man takes a hold of your roommate and puts a gun to her head. He tells you that it doesn’t matter who he shoots, but someone has to die. Would you really get up from the couch, walk towards him, and say, ‘Take me instead.’ ”
The question took me aback, and the breath that was supposed to carry oxygen to my fingers and toes was captured in my chest. But I remembered what it meant to live after Jesus Christ–to live is Christ and die is gain–and I told Him feebly that I prayed He’d give me the strength to stand, to look that man in the eyes, and to sacrifice myself if that haunting moment ever came.
Finally Poppy turned his gaze to meet mine. His eyes were filled with a depth of love; eyes still gave me chills when I saw my reflection in them.
“Then, My child, why do you complain about something as simple as cleaning their dishes?”
I learned a lot about love through this daydream. Like a knife to the heart, I felt it convict me of what it really means to take up our cross.
Loving is like any work of art. Just as a novice pianist must sacrifice through practice to play the concerto of a master, we as God’s children must practice the art of love through sacrifice every day. We will never be able to truly take up our cross–or our electric chair, lethal injection, or gas chamber–until we can sacrifice ourselves in even the most menial and minute tasks: taking out the trash, cleaning the dishes, donating clothes, tithing for our church.
In the art of love, God and His Son are the masters. We are only novices, yet one day, I pray that we will become masters, as well. Until that fateful day once we are charged with our senior recital of love–the exhibition of all our daily practice through sacrifice–I pray that we will take every opportunity to lay down our life.
Lay down your book and pick up a sponge. Lay down your remote and take up the trash.
Lay down your life and pick up love.