Thursday, April 05, 2007

How to Save A Life

Perhaps the best reason to become a parent hides in plain sight every day: parenting a child reveals God's love for us. Before parenting children, not only do we retain childish views of our own parents, but we remain childish before God. We forget to be like a child--open, trusting and sweet, and cling to the immature and childish--a small world-view and selfish insulation. Without children, selfishness is a luxury easily indulged. Whose there to interrupt it?

Children give a person the pleasure of transcending a selfish nature, of being better and doing better than he would be or do on his own. The selfish impulse is strong and wars with the loving, giving Godly nature. Parenthood helps grow the giving muscle. Jesus recognized this:

Matthew 7:7-12

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Before having a child, the way parents fetch, carry, cajole, comfort, and generally contort themselves for their child defies rationality. Parenting isn't rational, it's love and love doesn't make sense. Selfishness makes sense--it is personally beneficial and concrete, mechanistic even. Love is timeless and often intangible.

Love sacrifices. This is the season for contemplating sacrifice, a Father's sacrifice. He gave up His son for the sake of the world. And His Son willingly gave up himself for the sake of the world. He made an eternal decision for all of us. He died so we could live. And some days, parents sacrifice, too. In fact The Anchoress links to two stories about two women who refused to abort their babies even though it meant almost certain death from cancer. And in fact, both women died after giving birth to healthy babies. The Anchoress says:

I suppose to do this takes a servile mindset - a mindset that says, “maybe this is all the life I am supposed to have, maybe this is all the time God intended for me, and so I will obediently make room for this new life, because I trust Him…” That is a mindset that is profoundly misunderstood in this era. It is a mindset thought foolish and unsophisticated and wrong, by many.

Really, I guess what it it comes down to is faith, and trust that in sacrificing oneself, one is not leaving the rest un-tended to, un-nurtured, un-watched. It comes down to the great Mystery that we are all invited to explore, if we are only open to it. And the key to the Mystery is Love.

How is it possible to save a life by foregoing ones own? It's a mystery, indeed. But Jesus did it for us and mothers do it, and fathers, too. I read a story here in Houston recently about a boy and his father and uncles celebrating his twelth birthday by going out fishing. The boat sunk and the father and uncles held up the boy for 18 hours in the cold water and one by one they drowned. And he miraculously survived. An uncle tied himself to the boat knowing he was succombing.

Love. It's the only way to save a life. Sometimes, it means dying to do it.

Wishing you a blessed Passover and Easter.


Chalmers said...

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

What a great topic. Unfortunately many people do not understand the concept. A friend of mine was baffled when I said that I would hope that I could step in to protect a stranger in a situation that could end me...

I only pray that I will have that kind of courage when the time comes...

kman said...

Great post!

My children have taught me so much about my parent's love for me and Gods love... it's one of those things you can't understand without experiencing it. Now looking at my friends that don't have children their lives seem so empty, so shallow. Maybe full but unfulfilled would be a better description.