Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.
- John 15:13
Sacrifice is always beautiful.
Even when sacrifice seems ugly on the surface, there’s a deeper beauty to be found in this most selfless form of love. I’ve been listening to (and loving) the classic novel, Little Women. It’s really just a simple story that follows the growing-up of four poor young sisters. Throughout the book, they mature and blossom through the course of many small and great trials of their character. In one such trial, their father is near death in a military camp far away, and the family doesn’t have the money to send their mother to nurse him or perhaps bury him. Jo, one of the daughters, in despair and reckless abandon, sells her hair to help with the train ticket. One of Jo’s sisters exclaims when she sees Jo’s cropped head, “Oh Jo, how could you? Your one beauty.” And, it was. She’s rather plain and awkward during a time in history generally, and her own life particularly, where short hair is not “the thing”. Yet, her love for her parents drives her to “become ugly” for their sake. Jo’s willingness to give up her "one beauty" for the love of her family is far more striking than her hair. In fact, her unsightly hair is the very thing that points to the far more significant beauty of a selfless heart.
I must confess that I cried as I listened to this part of the novel. Jo’s willingness to give up her vanity and sacrifice her “one beauty” for the greater good of her family was just so compelling. We all gobble up stories like this, don’t we? We love tales of sacrifice like Saving Private Ryan, Harry Potter, Les Misérables, and even Frozen. They touch our hearts, because in our most secret places, these stories speak to us about this wholly other kind of love—the kind of love we all deeply long for and need. We want someone to love us like this, to be willing to give up everything, even their life, for us.
Someone does love us this way. Jesus. He loves us in this intimate and most extreme way. He says, “You are so important to me that I gave my life for you. I love you extravagantly, completely, selflessly.” It’s the greatest, truest story of sacrificial love. And, our hearts long to know it more and more. Won't you go there? Won't you give him the space to show you who he is? His desire is for you, and he wants to show you his compassionate, intimate, infinite love for you.