Selfless Love

April 18, 2012

My maternal grandma is dying. She’s had a really tough life. Raising 7 kids out in the country on a farm, living through the Korean War. At one point my grandpa went to Japan to make money while she raised the kids on her own. Grandpa and grandma sold most of their land to put all their kids through high school, even the girls. Back then, even middle school and high school required tuition… For most families, sending even one of the kids (likely the oldest male) through high school was a big investment.

Before I visited Korea couple years ago, the only thing I could remember about her was her gentle warm voice (and that sah-too-ri / accent!) , the deep grooves on her forehead, the caring eyes, and that sweet smell of the Korean country-side.  She was constantly looking after and concerned for her kids and her grandkids. When I saw her again couple years ago, she was just that: selfless love. A lifetime spent loving other, all selfishness long crumbled away.  And yet even this picture of love teaches us that something as good, beautiful, and even divine as selfless love can fail us. You can only gain yourself by losing yourself.  But you won’t necessarily gain yourself if you lose yourself. For example, you may lose yourself in drugs and quickly realize that you’ve not found the meaning of life. You may lose yourself in something as good as music and not find lasting joy. You may lose yourself even in loving others, and not realize why it brings such joy…

It’s hard to imagine a point at which God would declare “Enough!” and allow the miniature camel to walk through the eye, and declare that it need not to be killed. I hope that if she cannot muster enough consciousness to listen and to understand… that if she could have heard, and she would have known that all her love was actually a love for Him all along… that if she could not put a finger on who or what she was trusting in, that “unknown god” who was just beyond the grasp of her reach, whose shouts could not be heard… that nonetheless, that God may declare that she had rested on His righteousness all along even unknowingly…. If she passes away without having heard clearly, what else could be my hope? For even though she may have heard, all her language and thought has been so shaped by years of caring for others that the concepts of God and forgiveness itself may be foreign to her. For her there may not even be a category for forgiveness, for she forgives her kids out of pure impulse, without even thinking about the costs to her. How could she conceive of her sins when she cannot conceive of the sins of her children? And yet maybe her unconditional love for her kids, may it not grant her the ability to see how beautiful, how lavish our Father’s love for us really is, that we should be called the children of God?

There is yet time to make the calling sure. My parents are there now, by her side. Please pray for her salvation. It is a matter of eternity. Please pray that she may recover enough to recognize and cherish and rejoice in the truth of the Gospel. That God may give my parents words of wisdom to be able to explain to grandma and make plain to her the beauty, the wonder, the truth of the Cross, and the necessity of putting our trust in Him. Nothing matters more than the fate of your soul.

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