I just watched the movie 'Conviction,' which is a true story of love and sacrifice.
Kenny Waters is a man who spent most of his life brushing up against the law. It's no surprise that after the woman down the street is found murdered, Kenny is taken in to the police station and questioned. Two years later, he is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
And then his sister steps in.
Betty Anne, a high school dropout, puts herself through college and law school and becomes her brother's lawyer. After eighteen long years, after tears, fights, divorce, anger, frustration, after studying night and day, she finds new evidence, she passes her bar exam, she learns about DNA testing, she writes The Innocence Project and gets professional help on the case. And her brother gets exonerated.
Can you believe this woman's passion!? Can you believe her motivation, dedication, perseverance? It's a true story! I wonder what I would work that hard for, what I would give so much of my time, energy, and money for. I'm covered head to toe in lazy bones and I've failed miserably when it comes to working hard at a job. But I think it comes down to: what do I LOVE that I would work so hard for?
My favorite scene of the movie is when Betty is in the car with her two sons. And the conversation starts off joking and then it comes around to the two boys: would they do the same for each other that their mom did for her brother? And they go back and forth, saying what a big commitment it was and how hard it would be to give up what they wanted to do in life. And then one son made a comment about how their mother had sacrificed her life for her brother.
And the mom, Betty, paused. She looks at both of them with a funny little smile on her face. And she says, "You think I sacrificed my life?"
To sacrifice means to give up something valuable or important for the sake of others. To surrender, abandon. And while it was quite obvious that this woman had worked tirelessly for her brother and undoubtedly put him first, she didn't consider it a sacrifice of her life or of the things she wanted to do. In fact, she seemed almost amused at the thought. She seemed to say 'sacrifice? No way. That WAS my life. That was a joy for me to do. I spent the last eighteen years loving.'
She didn't see a sacrifice. To her, this was what she was supposed to do because she loved her brother.
I think this kind of story is something to learn from. What hard work looks like, about turning away from failure and trying a new way, about not giving up. But I think what lesson this woman's life really teaches is a lesson of making your life about others. About taking the you out of the center of your life and orbiting yourself around others. Maybe not seeing the things you do as sacrifices of your way of life for others, but making your way of life a sacrifice. Making your love and commitment to other people so often and automatic that it seems weird when people mention it.
I'm reading Tim Keller's latest book 'King's Cross' and he writes about our relationship with God being a dance. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all centered on each other; glorifying, serving, and adoring one other. They are characterized by 'mutually, self-giving love.' Keller says we're invited into that dance. Satan tells us to be stationary and self-centered, to give to others to feel good about ourselves and as long as it doesn't cramp our lifestyle. But God made us to enter into that dance!
Keller writes, "He must have created us not to get joy, but to give it. He must have created us to invite us into the dance, to say: If you glorify me, if you center your entire life on me, if you find me beautiful for who I am in myself, then you step into the dance, which is what you are made for. You are made not just to believe in me or to be spiritual in some general way, not just to pray and get a bit of inspiration when things are tough. You are made to center everything in your life on me, to think of everything in terms of your relationship with me. To serve me unconditionally. That's where you'll find your joy. That's what the dance is about."
And he says, "If this world was made by a triune God, relationships of love are what life is really all about."
Our lives are dances of service. Of love. Of orbiting around others because of our love for Christ. Of orbiting around Christ because of our desire to glorify Him. Of serving others because we are serving Christ. We dance in communion with Christ when we give our lives away!
We are called to love others because Jesus loved and rescued us. We are called to give our lives away because Jesus sacrificed His on the cross. Humbling understanding that what we are a part of, this dance, is really our ultimate sacrifice to Christ after what He gave to us.