John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend" NIV But I love the way the New Living Translation puts it even more... "And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends."Iknow this verse refers to Christ and his true ultimate sacrifice of his living, breathing body for us. That to be seperated from his father even for a short time as he literally took on our sin was excrutiating for him. But that was obediance...doing his father's will, he lay down his life for his friends. I have witnessed this same sacrifice lately in my friends. That true obediance looks like conforming to the very pattern of Christ, laying something down for a friend. So many have come to us over these past 6 months to share their own past, painful experiences and choices to offer hope as we suffer the same pain. There is encouragement, hope and healing for us in the hearing of it. What is being layed down? Reputation, privacy, secret pain, vulnerability. Encouragement without experience is loving. Encouragement through experience is powerful. Doesn't it just seem right to lay it down for someone else? Doesn't the price we paid then, seem finally worth something now when we can use it to comfort someone else? Isn't there some redemption in the whole thing that was before just a painful past? Is it really true that allowing our God to use it, makes it worth the suffering? God often looks past the things we would easily offer him to use, and asks us to offer him the hidden things we think he could never use. It makes me want to dig deep to every corner, every hidden spot, every dark closet within and lay it out, display it before him, ugly as some of it is. Use it Lord. Find some meaning in it. Redeem it. Make it worth something. The gifts of sacrifice that have been laid before us, have not been lost on us. The great love and sacrifice that has been laid down has accomplished hope in the midst of suffering and light in the darkness. That is His way... it has been from the beginning....to bring light into the darkness, and you have helped carry it.