Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. ~John 15:13
At this time of year, just after Easter and ANZAC day, I have a tendency to look back on my very blessed life – especially over the past 12 months – and consider all those folks who crossed my path and influenced or impacted me in some way. Sometimes these folks don’t even know that their actions or words were meaningful to me. I think about my wife and the sacrifices she has made for me. About all the times she held her tongue when I probably deserved a good dressing-down. Or the times she nursed me when I was not well, or just listened when I wasn’t in a good head space, or the times she knew when to leave me alone. I think about the times she sacrificed her quiet time to spend time with one of our boys because they needed to hear Mama’s voice (these days that is usually by phone or FaceTime.) Even though they are grown men and living away from home they still need to talk with someone who will tell them the truth in a gentle and loving way; getting that from someone you love and trust is always a great place to start gathering advice.
Sometimes I like to sit out the back and have a cigar and a whiskey and let the world go by and spend time with my God. I pray for our church, for the work I am involved in, for the people we impact in that work, for my team and the folks we work with. I pray for my wife and my boys and extended family and friends. It is in these quiet times I realise the sacrifices many of these folks make that impact my life, what I do and how I do it, and I thank God that he has brought them across my path in this season.
I often think about my boys and the impact they have had on me. I am so thankful to our Lord for giving them to me. My life is so much richer because of them. I sometimes think about the mistakes I made as a parent. I am so grateful, and I praise God that despite my mistakes our boys are good, honest, respectful and decent young men. I am grateful that they are both engaged in careers that they enjoy and that bring them satisfaction. They have both chosen very different paths: one as a teacher serving his students; the other in the Army serving our community.
God is so good to us. Even when it feels like no one else cares, He still lets us know He is right there, lifting us up, especially when He sends special people to walk with us just when we need them. Easter of course reminds us of Christ’s selfless sacrifice, of the lifesaving effect that results from His sacrifice. ANZAC day reminds us of the phenomenal sacrifices men and women across the history of our nation have made to help ensure the freedoms we enjoy today. My wife’s example at home and at work as a teacher shows me how much she cares and is willing to give. My boys show me that they are now living their lives, following the example of their mum in being willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Why do I share this with you all? Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”. Not too long after Jesus said this, He would indeed be doing this Himself in a very violent way, for me and you. I look at the small examples of sacrifice I see displayed in front of me every day, and while they cannot compare with Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, they do display in a smaller way the same characteristic of love that was Christ’s motivation. It is in these displays of simple sacrifice that I see and experience Christ and I am so thankful to our Heavenly Father for these reminders of His presence, of His interest in my life and of His gift of love to me. This in turn inspires me to want to live my life in service to others.
May you experience this love in your lives and may you live your lives being that “place”, where love comes to life.
Big Trev Ruthenberg