Monday, July 7, 2014

Pregnant and Bedridden: Sacrificial Love

            Getting me successfully through my pregnancy was, as Lee, one of my readers, so aptly put it when describing his mother’s high-risk pregnancy journey, a family affair.
            I couldn’t shake the feeling that my husband and son were also held hostage; all of us in some kind of bondage. Two years of bondage. I started having the guilties about what all of this stress was doing to each one of us individually, and to our family as a whole. I could never ask them to endure it again, should our hopes and efforts end in failure. This would be our final attempt to enlarge our family.
            While lying in bed one day, thinking about the possible future—should we fall short of our “goal”—a song from the famous play A Chorus Line flashed through my mind: “What I Did for Love.” Although I knew some of the words to the song, I’ve never seen the play or movie, and I thought it just a little strange that that particular song niggled my conscience.
            But it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t just doing this to “win.” I was doing something for love. Everything I did, every move I made—or didn’t make—was motivated by unconditional love! I and my comfort and pleasure no longer mattered. What mattered was devotion and sacrifice for this unborn child developing within me. This child conceived in love. This child unseen but already intensely loved.
            Love. What a powerful, motivating force.
            Then my typically myopic mind sharpened into clarity as my thoughts motored from what I was doing for love to what God does for love. Most specifically what He already did for love. What He did for the world—for me—when He sent His precious, perfect Son to a hostile environment and a torturous death on a cross for the world’s—my—underserved salvation. All because of His unfathomable love for us. For me!
            What mature Christians already understood was a new revelation for me—a Christian mired perennially in un-discipled infancy. Oh, I had intellectually processed the physical suffering on the cross part and comprehended and believed wholeheartedly in Christ as the Son of God and in the resurrection, but now I more fully reflected on the inconceivable depths of Jesus’ emotional and spiritual pain, experienced even before He was actually nailed to that cross. My comprehension of Christ, and all that He was and did, was at first painful and then thrilling as the Holy Spirit revealed all that Christ could become to me personally. Head knowledge of His emotional suffering abruptly turned into deep heart and soul knowledge.
            And my heart suddenly hurt. Terribly.
            Jesus had born the cross in love—love like no other before Him and no other since—and with the grace and dignity of the King that He was then and still is. Yet, in the height of His emotional torment, (in the garden, where the battle was actually won), He prayed for the cup to pass—the cup of bearing the full wrath and rejection of His Father for one purpose: to bear the sins of the world, all of them, since the dawn of humanity, so that that the world could be reconciled to Him in order to spend eternity with Him, together.
            Then on the cross, in the climax of excruciating pain and humiliation, He wondered aloud why God had forsaken Him. Not just wondered, but cried out in anguish to His Father, questioning the abandonment in His time of greatest need.
            Jesus, the Creator of the universe, felt deserted.
            Jesus, the Creator of the universe, felt alone.
            Scripture prophesied that God would do it, and the Messiah (Christ) would implore why; Scripture says it had to happen just that way. Jesus had always been one with the Father. “I and the Father are one,” He proclaimed. Now, for the first time in His life, (heavenly and earthly), Jesus was no longer one with the Father. He was, instead, completely separated from His Father and from His Father’s divine love. 

           He was, suddenly, as human as any human can get.
            I can’t imagine the torment.
            I could never compare my suffering with Christ’s, but His doubt, His agony, His questioning—His utter humanness—made me feel more secure about my down-in-the-depths, visceral need to holler out to God. To bare my soul and pour out my doubts and confusion. To unload my pain, my fears, my unfair lot in life. To really display anger and confusion before Him and to Him.
            What I was experiencing, He (Jesus) had felt.
            What I was thinking, He (Jesus) had already verbalized.
            Nothing could happen to me that He did not understand. Nothing could befall me that He couldn’t carry me through, because He had been through it all and conquered it all.
            As long as I kept my eyes focused squarely on Jesus—as long as I continued to open my heart to receive His comfort, grace, mercy and love—nothing could keep Him from me.
            I knew then that I wanted nothing to keep me from Him.
            Lying in bed alone, with no distractions and with my self wasted, God was personally giving me a life-changing, life-affirming, love-motivated theology lesson I’d never forget.
            It was more than a wakeup call.
            And it would be a game changer.


            That famous passage every little kid learns and rattles off in Sunday school—probably the first passage they memorize—suddenly took on an entirely new significance for me, especially after I learned the meanings of some of the passage’s words in the original Greek language:
            “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
            For God (supreme Divinity, THE God) so loved (from a moral or social sense) the world (you, me, everyone, everything) that He gave His only (read: one and only one) begotten (only-born) Son that whosoever (whosoever means whosoever—you, me, anyone) believes in Him (moves toward and believes and trusts in Him alone for salvation, entrusts one’s spiritual well-being to, commits), will not perish (be destroyed) but have everlasting (eternal, forever) life.
            Make no mistake about it, though. God saves not by love but by grace. But that grace is driven by His unconditional love. It is because of His love that He sent His Son. It is because of love that His Son made the decision to endure the sacrifice. And it is by the grace—unmerited gift—of that sacrifice that we are saved.
            Although God was motivated by His love for the world, it’s personal. We must each believe, individually. No one else can do it for us.
            So, let’s go through this again:
            For God so loved Andrea that He gave (her) His only begotten Son (Jesus) that if she believes (trusts) in Him (alone), she will not perish (be destroyed) but have everlasting (forever) life.
            And this one last time, read it aloud this way:
            For God so loved me that He gave me His only begotten Son that if I believe in Him, I will not perish but have everlasting life!
            He did this for you! If you were the only person on earth, He would have done it, and would do it again.


NEXT WEEK: Stress overflows: Chris’s angry, heart-crushing words, and I near the breaking point…

Thanks for joining me!

Until next week.