This is love...

Today's thought:

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

Jessica Council was a young woman of 30 who was in the joyous condition of expecting a child, her second. She was beautiful, young, in love, and her life full of the blessings God has for the young who are just starting out. 

Then the bottom fell out of her world. She was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors recommended immediate action in the forms of chemotherapy and radiation. However they could not promise that the baby would not be harmed. So Jessica and her husband Clint said 'no.' 

Next, the doctors suggested abortion in an effort to save Jessica’s life. However, with each medical offer of assistance, the baby’s life would be endangered. Jessica and Clint declined all efforts to slow the cancer at the risk of the baby. They decided to give the unborn child every chance to grow and remain healthy, no matter the toll it would take on Jessica’s body. At the expense of her own health, Jessica battled cancer and kept the child. 

Clint said, “She knew she was going to die anyway. She didn’t share that with me until almost when she died. But I think she knew, and she was thinking she was going to give this baby every chance she could.” 

Unexpectedly, on February 5th, Jessica went to sleep with a headache and never woke up again. Though her soul had passed into eternity, her womb still held a child. Quickly, the doctors performed a C-section to deliver the baby at 23-and-a-half weeks, the threshold of viability. Jessica fought to remain alive until the moment when the baby was viable for life outside the womb. Death a week earlier would have meant death for both mother and child. 

Little Jessi, weighing only one pound and three ounces, came into the world because of her mother’s extreme sacrifice. Little Jessi, who has her Mother’s beautiful red hair, lives because her Mother was willing to die. 

There is no greater love than a love that will sacrifice self. Jessica's story both moves us to a sorrow for her family, and underneath that, to an awe. If you're a parent you can't help but apply the situation to yourself. What would you do? Would you follow the doctors orders or would you protect your child even if it meant your death? Perhaps we can never know unless we're in that situation. Jessica's faith in God was the catalyst. She believed that one day she and her baby, Jessi, will finally meet and nothing will be able to separate them again. What a glorious reunion that will be!

With the awe you feel for Jessica's sacrifice turn your mind to God. The Bible teaches us that God sees us as His children. Christianity is the only belief that teaches of God as a Father. The inference is that because we have children we can begin to understand His love for us. There is nothing we will not do for our children. God is the same. The Bible tells us God is love (1 John 4:8).

Ravi Zacharias says he was once set a very difficult exam. The question: God is perfect, explain briefly. He says the only harder question he could have thought of would be, "Define God and give two examples." So, in his brilliant mind he came up with an answer short enough that he hoped not too many points could be taken away. He said, "God is the only being whose reason for His existence is in Himself. All other beings have the reason for their existence outside of themselves." Exactly what you would have said, right?

We have this triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Though we have a hard time understanding that, and rightfully so, it is essential to understand to comprehend how God is love (not something He does but who He is). That's possible because He is triune, three personalities with one essence. God has perfect love within Himself as the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit loves the Father. He is love and that love is perfect within Himself. He does not need us. He is not somehow a lonely Creature who needs man to fulfill some void. He is complete as a being in relationship with Himself. It is through that perfect love that the Father creates us. It is much like a child created by and through their parents love. God loves us not because He needs us but because we need Him. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

There is no one more vulnerable than a baby in the womb. There is no one in greater need. We all were in a womb of sorts. This world a womb whose purpose is to allow us to be born through the Holy Spirit into a new life as the children of God. All this because of the love a parent has for a child. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1a).

There was a cost though. To be born again meant that God, Himself, would need to come to earth and die in our stead so we could live. The awe we feel at Jessica's love for little Jessi catches us off guard because we recognize in it a greater love. We see in that act of self sacrifice the love of God for us. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

We expect this sacrifice will shape all of little Jessi's life. How could it not? To think every day, "My Mom died so I may live." We expect this sacrifice will lead Jessi to seek a more meaningful life, a greater and higher purpose. We who are marked by the love of sacrifice should never be the same. On some level we expect Jessi to live a vicarious life for the honor of Jessica. We should expect it, also, of Christians who claim God had exactly the same kind of sacrificial love. God does expect it. "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Corinthians 5:15).

What an amazing sacrifice! What an amazing love!

Prayer: Father, what unfathomable love you have lavished upon us through the sacrifice of Your Son, which is a sacrifice of self. We are in awe of that love. We let that love change us—our motivations, our purposes, our choices—to bring You honor. Thank You that You were willing to die for us that we might live. We love You. In Jesus, amen.