The Greatest Sacrifice


A tear aimlessly rolled down my cheek, dripping off my chin to splatter onto my pant leg. The words echoed through my blank mind: "Why, Lord? Why?"

We were in Kingston, Ontario overnight, and would be home from our 3 week trek to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island the following day. To lighten my wife's load a bit, I had taken my family out to dinner, and as we drove back to camp, reminiscing about our recent trip, my mood was light and merry.

The sound of the cell phone ringing quickly changed that, however. When your cell phone rings on vacation, it can only mean one thing: Disaster! Sure enough, it was our neighbor. Her daughter had been caring for our pet birds while we were away, and my sweet sun conure, Estrella, didn't make it.

Estrella had been a part of our family for the past two years, and though she was loved by everyone, she had attached herself to me. She called me "papa"-it was the only word she could clearly pronounce-and every day around 4 o'clock, she would start to fidget and squawk. She knew I would soon be coming home from work, and she would squawk until I arrived. Once I was home, she would make sure she could see me at all times. The highlight of her life was to be on my shoulder where she could see everything I was doing, or to hide under my shirt where she would either chew holes in my undershirt or stick her head out of the collar just enough to look like some kind of colorful necktie.

Estrella's priority was simple: she wanted to be with me as much as possible. She would be miserable if I was gone for the whole day. Weekends were her favorite, as she knew that she could spend the days under my shirt. She felt safe and secure there, for she was as close as she possibly could be to the one she adored. Her sole purpose in life was to brighten my day, and when she couldn't achieve her purpose, she would squawk. Loudly.

I hated to leave on vacation, for I knew it would be devastating to her to not see me for that long of a period of time. The year before, she had sulked at my mother-in-law's house for 3 weeks, but when I finally returned, she welcomed me with open wings, never leaving my side for days. But this year, she wouldn't be able to welcome me, for just three days before we were to return, her heart broke from waiting and she was found dead at the bottom of her cage. She was in perfect condition otherwise. Her only problem was that she missed the one she loved so much.

I, also, had anticipated our reunion and was looking forward to rubbing her tummy and wings, and once again having her under my shirt. We had purchased rope and hoops while away, enough to string up a bird play area across our family room so that she could move around the room at will, all the while keeping me within her line of vision. It was a dream I would never be able to fulfill!

My sun conure died because she missed me so much. The day she decided that she would never see me again, she lost her will to live. Reflecting over this unselfish kind of love, I realized that this is how much I mean to God! Though I was filled with sin, He was unwilling to live without me. The consequence of sin is death (see Romans 6:23), but my loving Heavenly Father couldn't live with the thought that His relationship with me would be broken forever. I was His number one priority, and He designed a plan, a plan that would rescue not just me, but a world gone mad by its lust for sin-filled self-destruction. He paid the price of sin. He died for me so that I could live forever. He reached out over the sin-filled abyss I created, and invited me into His presence. He didn't want me to perish. I was too important to Him. Instead, He wanted me to be His friend. He died so that I could live. He died for me out of love. His resurrection guarantees me that I will live forever with my newfound Friend.

I am astounded by this kind of love. Very few would die for a close friend, even less for someone who has hurt them. However, the death of Estrella, my sun conure, served to remind me of the greatest sacrifice of all: Jesus' death on the cross so that I could be His friend forever. I am THAT important to Him-And so are YOU!

"Why oh Lord? Why? I don't deserve this kind of love! How can I continue going my own way when You love me THIS much? It is impossible! Now that I have experienced You in my life I would prefer to die than to be without You! You are my Friend, my Forever Friend and I long to always be with You. I don't want to take my eyes off of You. I feel safe only when I feel Your presence. Thank you, Lord, for saving a sinner like me. I love You, Lord!"

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13 NIV); and "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16 NIV)

My friend, you do not need to search any longer to fill the emptiness you have experienced all your life. The void can only be satisfied with the presence of the One who really loves you. Come to Him and you will find rest. He is everything you have dreamed of. He loves you! "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28 NIV)

Farewell Estrella. You have been my friend and I will miss you. You have taught me about God's love in unbelievable ways. May I follow your footsteps in always keeping my eyes focused on the One who truly loves me.

Rob Chaffart

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