I’ve been struggling with the amount of time and energy it takes me to care for Anne. It’s just so demanding and exhausting. But I think what I’ve really been struggling with is that caring for Anne reveals the sinfulness in my heart. It’s hard to care for Anne because I’m selfish and don’t want to sacrifice my time and energy to do for Anne what she can no longer do for herself. I struggle with self-pity, self-absorption and a lust for freedom to do what I WANT TO DO. But. If I can surrender – if I can dive deep into the life God has called me – a life of sacrifice and service – then my life will be full. I know this in my head…
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 10:39.
Do you know how many times these words of Jesus are quoted in the gospels?? Six times. Twice in Matthew and Luke – and once in Mark and John. That’s a lot. Jesus expended much energy in teaching the disciples the lesson of self sacrifice. He knew it was the key to eternal fulfillment. He knows the end of the story… when this world will be turned up-side down and the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He knows. He knows.
I’m reminded of a scene from a novel written by Randy Alcorn. Randy has spent years studying eternal perspective, and back in the ’90’s he published, Deadline, a novel that weaved together much of his research and study. It is the story of three good friends who share different beliefs… an atheist, an agnostic and a believer -and they are in a serious automobile accident at the beginning of the story. The agnostic is the only survivor – but the novel continues to track all three men. As we follow the believer into heaven, the images are breathtaking. One scene in particular deeply impacted me… The believer who died left behind a son with Down Syndrome. And as we see the dad in heaven, he notices the most amazing music – coming from the largest and most beautiful orchestra and choir he had ever seen. It was HUGE – with countless numbers of people making music for Jesus – and he looked to the podium and saw the choir director – and he was surprised to see – a man – with Down Syndrome.
The last shall be first and the first shall be last. I consider it my greatest calling and honor on this earth to serve Jesus by serving my disabled daughter …But I struggle with self-sacrifice. I feel like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – as Aslan tears deep into his flesh to pull away the dragon’s skin. Just as Eustace was unable to peel the skin off himself, so Jesus has to help scrape away all of my selfishness… He does it because he loves me… and He knows the end of the story… and it’s good.