A life hangs in the balance. Literally.
Stretched to the limit atop a precipice, men form a human chain, intent on saving the one who has fallen over the edge. Their strength begins to wane. They are slipping closer and closer to gruesome death. Dangling over the edge, the last man realizes what is at stake. With a sigh of resignation and a look of absolution, he lets go; plunging to his death, rather than risk the lives of his comrades.
“NOOOOOO!” Cut to primal scream of the main character.
I can think of half a dozen movies with this scene. Change a few details, rearrange the sequence, tweak the wardrobe… it’s a classic bit.
Sometimes it’s a bullet. Sometimes it’s a bomb. Sometimes it’s a grizzly bear. Sometimes it’s a burning building.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)
We replay it in the media over and over again, because it resonates. These hero stories appeal to us. Like Christ, who sacrificed himself to save us all. We want to believe that sacrifice like this happens. We want to believe that WE would do the same thing.
When push comes to shove comes to the edge of a precipice… I like to believe I would. Especially for my family or my friends, but even for a stranger. In my daydreams, these Messiah moments are bold and dramatic, with a stirring soundtrack playing in the background.
But it’s not a likely scenario. The closest I’ve ever come is the time I fell down the stairs with baby in arms and turned to take the brunt of it on my back while holding her out of harm’s way. That was maternal instinct, and over in a split second.
The really great love, the kind our world needs more of, is not as glamorous and sexy as those cinematic scenes. It is giving up myself to help someone else in a thousand small, everyday ways. It doesn’t feel heroic, but it is.
Not running into a burning building, but listening to that elderly relative tell the same story for the third time in one phone call.
Not fighting off a rabid grizzly, but scrubbing the bathroom, doing the laundry and making dinner.
Not throwing my body on a grenade, but mopping up vomit, changing the sheets and putting on a sympathetic face.
Not throwing myself in front of a bullet, but calmly handling one more screaming tantrum, knock-em-down-drag-em-out fight or weepy confession.
Not sacrificing my life, but sacrificing my time, my energy, my comfort, my sleep, and maybe even my chocolate (gasp!).
In some ways, it’s a lot harder than the big dramatic exploits. I’m pretty sure I could make the impressive gesture, if given the opportunity. But the daily grind kind of sacrifice… mine is not an Oscar worthy performance EVERY time.
I whine. I get frustrated. I am consumed by my own performance. I overlook all the heroes around me. I resent.
But sometimes I love. Sacrificially. Heroically. Not anything they’ll make a movie about. Not anything people will notice or applaud or hand out awards for. But that’s kind of the point of sacrificial love, isn’t it?
Let's share -- How many acts of sacrificial love, that will never make a movie trailer, can we think of?