All of this denying myself for the sake of another has given me occasion to ponder the spiritual parallels of this exercise. I mean, it's not often that our daily choices have such an obvious effect on another person whose well-being rests wholly on those choices. It's also not often that our choices in the past can be completely undone in a single moment -- in my case, sneaking a bite of cheese when I need a quick protein boost or grabbing a glass of wine on a particularly harried evening, and I'd have to start the whole exercise over again.
They say that becoming a parent provides opportunity for a person to experience the love of God in ways that we previously had not considered. I realize that giving up cheese for two weeks is a really lame comparison to the Son of God dying for me (cue a Jim Gaffigan joke about giving Jesus socks on his birthday); but I am weak and small, and this exercise has set me pondering, so I'll take it. Our well-being is totally vicarious, dependent upon the self-sacrificial choices of the One from whom all good and all life flows.
This morning, I was enjoying Indelible Grace's song "Upon a Life I Did Not Live" and realized that it perfectly complements this point. If you have 3 minutes and 55 seconds, don't just read these words, but also click play on the music. You want this stuck in your head for the rest of the afternoon.
Upon a Life I have not lived,
Upon a Death I did not die,
Another’s Life; Another’s Death,
I stake my whole eternity.
Not on the tears which I have shed,
Not on the sorrows I have known,
Another’s tears; Another’s griefs,
On these I rest, on these alone
O Jesus, Son of God, I build on what Thy cross has done for me;
There both my death and life I read, my guilt, and pardon there I see.
Lord, I believe; O deal with me,
As one who has Thy Word believed!
I take the gift, Lord, look on me,
As one who has Thy gift received.