I woke up a couple of nights ago with a question on my mind. The question was a simple one but disturbing. “Who would I give up my life for?” I have never believed I would be required to act out that answer but I could find no rest till I considered it. The immediate answer was my family. I think most people would agree with that one. I have lived a good life, have enjoyed a vocation of faith and been blessed with a loving wife, daughter and family.
When I think about my grandsons, I wouldn’t hesitate to exchange my life for theirs. There is so much about this life that is good and I want them to have the chance to discover that. My wife is certainly on that list. Right now she is battling cancer, and if it were possible to exchange my life for hers, it would be an easy decision. I would give up my life for her.
The list gets surprisingly short after that. That led to a second question that is less intimate but no less revealing. “What would I give up my life for?” I grew up in the period of the Vietnam War and watched my brothers go off to serve and buried a few of my friends who did not return. I stand amazed at the sacrifice people make to serve the ideals of freedom and country. Yet every day, men and women put themselves in harm’s way to defend those ideals.
I suspect that these questions arose from the news report that when the governor of New York pleaded for medical volunteers to come to the epicenter of the COVID19 pandemic and serve, literally thousands have answered the call. These medical professionals have put their lives on the line for the care of others. Shades of firemen and police racing into the Twin Towers returned to my mind. Even my own son-in-law is a volunteer fireman and doesn’t hesitate to respond.
What is it that causes people to make such sacrifices and take such risks? Duty, devotion, honor? While I lay there wresting with these thoughts, a scripture came to mind. “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Whether I realized it or not; whether they realized it or not, they were doing all this out of love. Yes, love. Love for their family, their neighbors, their fellow man.
My faith teaches me that I am made in the image of my Creator. Stamped with His motivations, as are all men and women. We are designed to love one another. We can be distracted and even tempted to forget that innate drive but times like these remind us of what really matters. When we realize that no one is immune to this viral threat, we are forced to take the measure of how much we love others. Today, we are all at risk and we all must answer that question of love and life.
I pray that you will be found with courage, faith and most of all, love.