It was Tuesday and I was in the kitchen washing dishes when a thought suddenly hit me. It was one of those thoughts that you can't seem to let go or it can't seem to let go of you. Later that day, when my husband Osvaldo was home, I shared it with him.
"Honey, I had this thought today that what if the only way (our friend) Don* is going to accept Jesus is for one of us to die. And I thought about it and the thought makes me angry. How selfish of Don to not just come to Jesus now but wait for one of us to die!"
Osvaldo looked at me and said, "I've had that same thought before. And I prayed that if it took me dying for Don to come to Jesus, then I would do it. But I have asked the Lord that Don would come to faith without that needing to happen."
The conversation ended there but the thought didn't. It still lingered in my mind for the rest of the night. When I woke up the next day it was still there. I carried it with me into the shower and from the shower to the bathroom counter. Then it hit me. So clearly, so vividly, that I was brought to my knees, literally. I was humbled. Broken. Ashamed.
Prior to this moment, I was angry at the thought of me dying in order for Don to come to salvation. I was angry with his selfishness and his hardness of heart. But that's when the Holy Spirit reminded me that someone died for me. I was selfish, hard-hearted, blind, but still Jesus gave his life on a cross in order that I might be saved! Whereas if I were to die my death could not save Don (or anyone) but only point to my salvation in Jesus, Jesus' death has saving power! And he did it for me. This is what Romans 5:6-8 is talking about:
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
And, if it was really my choice and if it was really God's plan, I would rather save my life for a few more years on this earth even if it meant that Don would lose his for all eternity? Seriously? By Wednesday morning I wasn't upset or angry at Don anymore. God changed my heart. The window from which I had been looking out at Don became a mirror from which I could only see myself for who I really was. I was the selfish one! I was broken. Ashamed. Humbled. For I was acting as one who accepts the love of God freely yet refuses to love others like Christ loves her.
A second humbling thought was that it wasn't that I necessarily had a problem with love but choosing the recipients of my love or of God's love for that matter. For if God were to say to me, "Kristen, you must die in order for your son Philip to know me, to come to me." I feel certain that I'd say, "Take me!" Why? Because I love my son deeply. But we don't get to pick and choose who we love as Christians. No, we get the privilege of loving others because He first loved us.
God may or may not take my life in order for Don to be saved. But just as Christ laid down His life for me out of this pure, abounding, selfless love, I pray with fervor that I will follow the example of my Lord and love Don in the same manner. I also pray that God will use whatever means necessary to save Don from sin, from hell, from eternity without Him – even if it means my life.
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." 2 Cor. 5:14-15
"Lord, help me to love Don and others like him who are not easy to love and who turn a blind eye to you because you first loved us. Amen."
*Don's name was changed out of respect for this person. Please pray for Don to find faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.