Lilias Trotter had an unusual talent for painting landscapes. Born mid-nineteenth century, she acquired famous artist John Ruskin as a mentor. Ruskin believed her talent could dominate the art world. But as Lily’s art matured, so did her devotion to God. She began frequenting dangerous areas to help women in need, a practice Ruskin discouraged because he felt it kept her from perfecting her artwork. Eventually, Lily decided to spend her life serving others in Algeria.

Lily’s decision to follow her calling over a prestigious art career reminds me of the way Jesus came to earth. He “gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave” (Philippians 2:7). As Lily took on the mission of serving in a foreign country, she gave up her safe, comfortable life. Instead of being admired for her artwork, she chose to serve forgotten women and children. One of the women Lily cared for said with amazement, “No one has ever loved us like this!”

But no one has ever loved humankind like Jesus (John 15:9,13). We know He sacrificed His life for us, but we may not think as often about how He sacrificed His position in heaven as well. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to” (Philippians 2:6). Knowing the glory of heaven as home, Jesus willingly “appeared in human form” (Philippians 2:7). He went through the the human birth process to end up in a cocoon of blankets at the mercy of His own creation. It was a radical way to say, “I love you.”

Life inevitably requires decisions about how to invest our talent, time, and money. May we, as Lily did, choose to follow where God leads and serve others out of His compassionate heart.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Psalm 8:1-9