I sat in the corner of the waiting room where Andrew attends Interactive Metronome therapy twice a week. Jacob stood at the door leading from the waiting room to the hallway. “Oh my gosh, Mom, come here! Andrew is out in the hallway.” The laugh in Jacob’s eyes told me I didn’t want to miss this.
I placed my book on the seat and joined Jacob at the door. Peering around the doorframe, I gasped. Jacob doubled over gripping his stomach through his fits of laughter. From the end of the hall, Andrew shouts back, “What? Stop it, Jacob!” Jacob couldn’t stop laughing.
“Jacob, please go back in the waiting room,” I whispered. Just then Andrew’s therapist emerged from the bathroom holding the shirt Andrew had been wearing. It was soaked.
“Andrew had a little accident on his shirt when he went to the bathroom. I tried to rinse it off and accidentally got his shirt wetter than I meant to and now it’s too wet for him to wear.”
I laughed. He laughed. Then I realized, we really did have a bit of an issue. Therapy time ticked away. Valuable time. It’s been years since I’ve kept extra clothes on hand. He could go shirtless, which would be fine with him, maybe not with the other children. I saw no solution.
I wore a cardigan over my shirt. I took it off to offer it to Andrew. His always over-expressive eyes widened, “Mom! I cannot wear girl clothes! I’ll look ridiculous!”
He pushed his arms in anyway. We rolled the sleeves up, buttoned the bottom buttons, hoping he would roll with it.
“No. No way. Take this off me now. I can not wear this!”
“Do you think one of his brothers would loan him their shirt?”
“Ha! I highly doubt it, but I’ll ask.”
I thought to myself, “There is no way they will give up their shirt, sit shirtless in a waiting room so Andrew can continue therapy.” Having no other options, I entered the waiting room to ask so I could say I’d given it my best.
“Ok, boys, Andrew had a little accident on his shirt, his therapist tried to help him out and ended up soaking the shirt. In order for him to finish therapy, he needs a shirt to wear. I tried to give him my cardigan but he won’t wear it. Is there any way one of you would be willing to loan him the shirt off your back so he can finish therapy?”
Before I completed my sentence, Jacob shot up from his seat. “I’ll do it, Mom. He can wear my shirt.”
Before he could change his mind, I whisked him out of the waiting room back to Andrew standing shirtless in the hallway.
They locked eyes and both burst out laughing. Through his laughter, Andrew said, “Stop it, Jacob.” Jacob couldn’t help himself.
“Jacob, quickly take off your shirt and give it to him so he can get back to work.” Jacob pulled his shirt off, Andrew slipped it on his head. And I watched it dawn on Jacob what he had just done.
Jacob stood exposed.
Andrew looked down at his new shirt. “This fits perfect. Thanks!” And off he and his therapist went. Meanwhile, I handed Jacob my favorite white cardigan.
He looked at it as if it were poison. “Mom, I can’t believe I just gave him my shirt. I don’t know what I was thinking! I am so embarrassed right now.”
I let it all out. Every ounce of laughter I’d been holding in. Watching Jacob put his arms into that cardigan, button up the buttons which went to about his belly button, and looking at his bare chest. Well, it was about the funniest thing I’d seen in awhile.
After I gathered myself, I stood back looking at him. “Jacob, that is the most beautiful picture of sacrifice I’ve seen. You didn’t think, you didn’t weigh the options, you didn’t count the cost to you. You gave to your brother what he didn’t have, you suffered humiliation and embarrassment for his sake. And you did it out of love.”
A blush covered his face, as he gently nodded, eyes cast to the floor. “It was weird, Mom, because I didn’t even think about it until after I’d given him my shirt. It just happened. I really can’t believe I said yes.”
“It’s the absolute perfect picture of sacrifice. When we sacrifice something from our hearts, we often don’t think about it. It comes naturally.”
A soldier who gives his life for a brother isn’t weighing his options and what he will give up. There is no time. A mother who runs into the road to save her child crossing the street isn’t thinking. She is simply acting. Often what we call a sacrifice is simply an act of love to the nth degree.
“Jacob, you had what Andrew didn’t and out of your love for him, you sacrificed. You are embarrassed, you are humiliated. Jesus did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He hung on a cross in complete humiliation. Willingly. It was the ultimate sacrifice.”
I watched the thought wash over him. It transformed his face, and I pray it transforms his heart. I know it will. Because the gospels transforms us. Not just the first time we get it, but every moment we live it.
When we truly get the gospel is when the gospel gets us. And we will never, ever be the same. It’s impossible.
Jacob showed me gospel living. The gospel is meant to be tasted, felt, experienced. The gospel is radical. Extreme. Unnatural. It’s wild abandonment of self and pride. It’s humbling.
The gospel isn’t meant to be boiled down to a Sunday School lesson leading to a sinner’s prayer. It’s so much more. It’s beautifully complex wearing the clothes of simplicity. It’s a simple message meant to be breathed in and out.
With each breath of the gospel, we come alive, and out of the life He gave for us, we can give. We can stand humiliated yet unashamed.