In October of 1989, just two months into my first year of high school, I lost a classmate and new friend, Renee Hurley. I only met Renee that September after we were placed in the same 9th grade class at Gonzaga High. With my last name being Greeley, and her name being Hurley, she sat right behind me as we were placed in alphabetical order. I remember her sweet smile and her gentle spirit. She was kind, pleasant and caring.
On a mid-autumn Saturday afternoon, after a sports event at the YMCA, Renee, her best friend, Faye, along with two other boys hopped into a car and headed down The Boulevard to head home. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it home. The driver of the car lost control and hit a pole, and all but Faye lost their lives. I remember getting the call later that afternoon, and it’s a moment that will be forever etched in my mind. I can tell you exactly what I was doing and the song that was playing when I got the phone call from another classmate. I can’t explain the shock and horror that grasped my heart and mind as I tried to process it all. I was only 14 years old. So, needless to say, it was a traumatic time. We learned that Faye survived the impact with only a few minor cuts and bruises. It was hard to believe that when everyone else was killed upon impact! The remains of the car would make you wonder how anyone could have survived.
I visited Faye at the Janeway Hospital the next day, and if memory serves me well, I remember being told that Renee saved Faye’s life. From what I remember, Renee used her body to cover Faye upon impact. I remember crying a lot. I remember my mom trying to help me process it all as much as she possibly could. I remember my mother sharing the scripture from John 15:13 after she also learned of what Renee did for Faye…. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” . The comfort those words gave me still resonate with me today! And, every year when October 28th rolls around I am reminded of the sacrifice Renee made that day for her friend.
This now resonates with me more today after the tragic events that unfolded last weekend in Nova Scotia, where 22 people lost their lives to a lone gunman who set out on a killing rampage. One of the victims was Constable Heidi Stevenson, mother of two. She suited up that Sunday morning, kissed her husband and kids goodbye and headed out to do her job – to protect and serve Canadian citizens. With bravery, especially that morning, she set out unaware she’d never come home. Yet, every time an RCMP officer suits up to go to work, they truly do not know if they will come back home. That’s a daily sacrifice they make for you and me.
They put their lives on the line for the sake of ours! That is exactly what Constable Stevenson did that fateful Sunday morning! She laid down her life for the sake of others. That’s true sacrifice and love!
Jesus did the same for us! He laid down his life… gave it all up for you and for me! He could very well have said no. In fact, we know while he was in the garden of Gethsemane, he pleaded with his father, “If possible let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39)
Instead, he endured the cross so that we may live! There is no GREATER love! There is no greater sacrifice! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I truly believe the examples of Renee and Constable Stevenson (and there are many more) who unselfishly gave their lives for the sake of others, demonstrate love in action! They, just like Jesus, laid down their own desires, hopes and dreams. They sacrificed their lives so that someone else could live!
That is the greatest love of all!