I just watched a short video about an elderly gentleman who volunteers two days a week in the pediatric ICU of a hospital, holding babies whose parents can’t be there because of distance, other children, or competing responsibilities. It was a touching video–he does it to meet the needs of these babies when they’re hurting, sick, and just need to be loved and cuddled.
In the video, he is asked this question: “What do you get out of it?” And something about that question broke my heart. It’s a completely legitimate question, because every person has a motive behind their actions. And, if we’re honest, the motive is usually selfish–we all ask ourselves this question every day. Will this be good for me? What benefits or perks will I get from this? It’s not a bad question in light of human nature.
But the fact that selfish motives drive most of our behavior is a tragedy. It’s so, so sad because it’s so, so different from the way things are supposed to be.
Yesterday, my 4-year-old was sitting at the kitchen counter. Mornings start early around here. This conversation happened between him and my husband, Matt:
My 4-year-old (reflecting as he was waiting for breakfast): God made the world good. He made it so people could love each other. But Satan tricked Adam and Eve and told them they could be like God if they ate the fruit. But they were already like God. And now everything is broken.
Matt (blinks, still half-asleep): That’s right. Who’s going to fix everything?
4-year-old: God! And Jesus!
And I decided that I like our early mornings after all.
My 4-year-old’s reflections on the true condition of the world and the beauty of Jesus came to mind when I was watching that video about the volunteer. He is loving those babies–wanting good for them and doing that good, despite the sacrifice in time, the likelihood that he’ll be puked or peed on, and the fact that he’ll probably never see those babies again or receive a thank you from them.
He’s not cuddling babies for himself–he’s doing it for them. And his act of love is a picture of the way we were all created to live. It reflects, in a way, what real life is. Real, true life is enjoying friendships of love with God, with others, and with all of creation. We’ve never experienced a perfect world of perfect love. We’re like the man in Plato’s cave who has only seen shadows–we’ve never seen the Light. But, because of Jesus, we’ve seen glimpses of true Light and Life. And, because of Jesus, we have hope that He will rescue us out of our “cave” and bring us into the Light and life and love we were created to enjoy.
I’m typing this post as I’m rocking my 9-month-old. His tummy has been upset lately, and it’s preventing him from getting his much-needed morning nap today. I was hoping to spend that much-needed hour finishing up the manuscript for my book that’s due soon. And I was feeling extremely frustrated that my time is, once again, being “wasted.” I have so many things I’m trying to accomplish, and so often my time is interrupted or used up by meeting the needs of my 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 9-month-old. And I was feeling annoyed at his tummy problems and annoyed in general, and then I watched that video. And remembered my 4-year-old’s deep reflections yesterday.
And then I realized (again) how broken and selfish I am. How sad it is that I’m begrudgingly rocking my precious son, wishing I could be more productive. What higher calling do I have than loving those God has placed in my life to love? What better way to spend my time than meeting the needs of my children, gifted to me by God? I filter every action through the question: What will I get out of this? And when I do that, I completely miss out on real, true life. I’m stuck in a smoky cave of shadows, when Jesus intends the beautiful world of Light and love for me and everyone else.
I am in such desperate need of my Rescuer. And I’m so thankful that He comes to bring me home, again and again, every time I crawl away from true Life back to my cave.
When Jesus began His ministry, He spoke these words:
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:17-21 ESV
I am the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed. I am in need of His rescue.
We all are.
I’m so thankful He came for us.
And now I’m going to rock my baby and enjoy it, remembering that loving him is the best way to spend my time right now.