Okay, so I have to give you this funny moment of marriage. 🙂 My husband is starting this 7-day detox that he purchased (something from GNC), and he started this morning. So, I helped him with his two rice cakes with 1 tablespoon of all-natural, sugar free peanut butter on each one. I gave him a navel orange, fixed him his sugar-free, decaffeinated green tea, and this mixed this fiber-based prebiotic powder in water for him to drink. So his tummy has been a bit precarious this morning…lol! And he stands up and says that he thinks he has to go back to the bathroom, and I stand in front of him and say, “Honey, do you love me?” Obviously, we both bust out laughing, and he barely gets out “Yes, of course.” Then he tells me only I could get away with that as he runs off to the bathroom. There’s nothing like questioning love in the moment of a funny, personal crisis…..lol!
But speaking on questioning love, my thought turns to Abraham in Genesis 22. Hear you see that Abraham finally has had a son, Isaac, with his wife. Obviously, you can imagine their joy over having their own child, but this joy becomes shortlived for Abraham because God tells him to offer up his only son as a burnt offering. I mean, could you imagine the disbelief on his face? Personally, I would be heartbroken to have to offer up my child after carrying and raising him for so many years. But nevertheless, Abraham was obedient and did just that. Now, on the way to the sacrifice, Isaac asked his father where the lamb was, and Abraham told him God would provide it. Surely enough, in the moment where he was about to kill his own son, the Angel of the Lord spoke out and told him not to do it. When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught in a bush, and he offered the ram to God.
Now fastforward to Matthew 26 or Mark 14. Here you find Jesus praying earnestly in the garden of Gethsemane. His prayer here is that God could make some way where He would not have to make the ultimate sacrifice and endure the wrath of God for the sins of the world. What was this ultimate sacrifice? Well, Jesus would have to endure beatings and torture and die on a cross. That may seem simple enough, but I am sure that it was beyond the physical pain. Jesus had to deal with God pouring out all of His wrath for all of the sins ever committed (plus all the sins that would be committed) on Him personally in that moment in time. He had to deal with God treating Him like a common sinner, not in love. It seems to me in that moment, Jesus would have welcomed another lamb to make that sacrifice. However, when Jesus opened His eyes, he didn’t find a lamb or another person worthy to make that sacrifice. He told the Father “not as I will, but as You will.” Thus, he endured the sacrifice. He endured the cross. He endured being forsaken by the Father. He endured it all, and then, He rose, His life becoming our example.
So, as I was considering these things, my mind went to the number of church services that I have attended over time. In these services, I remember all of the “hallelujahs” I heard as the pastor said that “Gawd alwayz has a ram in the bush!!!” and then the people started shouting and throwing money on this “seed” of faith….hilarious! Now, I’m not saying that God cannot intervene in those moments where we must sacrifice something, because His can. My thought is on the “expectation” that many Christians have that they won’t or shouldn’t have to actually sacrifice something.
I’m not sure where this belief came, but I know that in many churches (a lot of black churches) there is a belief that sacrifices are fairly relative and unneeded now because “JESUS PAID IT ALL”. So, I have met plenty of Christians, young and old, who have problems when God requires things of them, when He requires a sacrifice from them and there is no “restoration”, no rams or lambs in the bush. The sacrifice has to be completed, and they received nothing in return. There are a lot of people who have problems when they receive nothing from the Lord, and it is completely amazing to me. At this point in time, why do we no longer see making personal sacrifices as being important. We happily say, “JESUS PAID IT ALL”, but we never get to the “ALL TO HIM I OWE” part of the song. How many people actually view making a sacrifice before God as a holy and honorable thing? Are you actually happy to do it? Or are you making secret prayers that something would happen so you don’t have to? And then, after the sacrifice, how do you feel? What are your thoughts?
Romans 12:1 Amplified says:
I appeal to you therefore, brethern, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
This is one of the most obvious scriptures to me about how we should view sacrifices under the new covenant. The fact is that, like Christ, our lives should be a constant sacrifice to God. Yes, Christ paid the penalty for all of our sins, but we owe Him every portion of our lives. It is actually quite rational to believe that if someone saved your life from a horrible death, you will spend the rest of your life repaying them for their kindness. I mean, who wouldn’t live their lives at the beck and call of the one who saved their lives? So, considering that, is Jesus worth less than the rest of our lives, no matter what it costs?
On a personal note, I really thank God for bringing me out here to Colorado. I would have never chosen to live all the way out here, but I have learned so much from my church family here. I see constant examples of people who have made real sacrifices in their life for the sake of Christ. I see constant examples of people who have dealt with loss, as God required something of them that they held dear, including their own children. And these are still the happiest children of God that I have ever met in my life! Crazy how even with faith-shaking sacrifices, sacrifices I’m sure they probably would have never chosen to make, they still count it only a light affliction, joy and honor before the Lord. Seeing them be so willing and reasonable with God has been a great conviction for my life, personally. Finding out that I was pregnant so soon after marriage was really trying for me because I was wrestling with sacrificing my own ambitions again. Honestly, I didn’t want to, but that conviction wouldn’t leave me. And I remember going to the Lord and being completely honest with Him about the state of my heart, and I asked Him for help to walk through this, to do His will. And I thank God that He has been so faithful to me in all of this, and now, I do see it as a joy and honor before Him…..again, I thank God for my church family, especially the women here.
I know that life will be full of sacrifices a long the way, which is why we should always be ready to present ourselves for it. I have no idea how deep those sacrifices will be or how hard it will be to die to myself, but I know that by looking at the life of Christ, there is an endless amount of grace to endure it all because His sacrifice for my life is still worth it in my eyes.