I have a friend who I met through exercise class. I admire her for many reasons. Aside from being a fit woman, she is a great mom, accomplished in her profession, and one of the most compassionate people I have ever known. I hadn't seen this friend for a while but we ran into each other and she immediately hugged me. What stands out about her is that she hugs hard and doesn't let go immediately. There's no question this person cares for you when she gets a hold of you. After I saw her last, I wondered why her loves stands out to me?
The answer is a simple one: she once experienced a threat to her life. Her life was almost cut short by cancer. She bravely fought back, beat the disease, and makes a conscious decision every day to live her life differently than before. She knows all her days are bonus days, not everyone has the same outcome she experienced, so she loves a little harder than most.
My friend puts her love into action much like Jesus did during His time on Earth. Jesus was extremely intentional about loving people well and loving like He meant it. While on the way to heal an important leader's daughter, Jesus stopped and healed a nameless, outcast woman. Jesus took the time to weep and grieve with others at the loss of a dear friend. Jesus stopped His disciples from hindering the children who sought Him, because He loved little ones dearly and knew their importance to God. Hours before the greatest physical, emotional and spiritual trial of His life, Jesus took the time to kneel down and lovingly wash the feet of His disciples, including the feet of His betrayer. Jesus loves likes He means it.
We know that Jesus would commit the greatest act of love ever shown. Jesus would hang on the cross to make payment for the sins of the world. John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Because of the way Jesus treated those around Him while He walked the planet and because of His final act, we can confidently sing with our babies, "Jesus loves me, this I know."
I'm challenged by Christ's example. I'm challenged by my friend's example. Do the people who encounter me know that I love them? Do I hug them a little harder and stronger so that no matter what kind of day they've had they know someone cares? Do I allow my important and busy schedule to be interrupted to show kindness to the person who has constantly been ignored? Do I carry out mundane tasks for my family and my betrayers alike and expect nothing in return? It's easy to say, "I love you" and it's easy to casually hand out hugs and pleasantries. It takes time and effort to stop and embrace a person a little longer to feel what they feel. Let's be honest, sometimes it's even a little uncomfortable.
Perhaps we all haven't beaten cancer but each day is a bonus day. My friend loves like she means it because her days may have been cut short. None of knows how many days we have. Jesus knew His time was limited and made love His mission, I pray that with Jesus' help, I do the same.