This summer in my study of the words of Jesus in John 15, I ran across this story from a pastor named Chris Jordan from California:
"Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, 'Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liza.' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all of his blood." (Originally taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul.)
Wow. What better illustration of the words of Jesus that we must humble ourselves a a little child? What I love about this, as well, is the concrete thinking of the five-year-old boy. He thought, "If I help her live, I must die. But I love my sister, and I will do it."
That kind of love on a practical basis is what we desire inside these school walls and beyond this year. It is the type that causes us to be willing to die to ourselves in order truly to love another. It might not involve a blood transfusion, but according to Jesus, it is lame unless it involves loving the unlovely and people who don't really care for us (Luke 6:32).
Perhaps you have a child who is starting this year excited for a new beginning, but dreading his or her interaction with the "cool kids." Or maybe as a parent you live in fear of the judgment of others who think you don't measure up. Or you are still judging your own worth based on the "perfection" of your children.
Oh, how I have longed to do what Charlotte Mason said about dying to self: "it does not mean you think less of yourself, but rather you don't think about yourself at all." How in the heck is that possible?
Well, that is in John 15 also. It is called abiding in the love of Christ. And it is something we do together. If we all covenant together this year to abide in Jesus and soak up His word, then amazing greater love can grow among us. But it will take some pruning and obedience.
Forget our own ability to love well - it doesn't exist. We are naturally busted up... broken. And so are our kids. But we have a Savior who calls us friends, not slaves, and He is the source of all the fruit we can bear. Can our "ask whatever we wish" this year be greater love for one another? Let's give it a shot.