I was considering something today, thinking back over my life, thinking what I would do differently if I had it to do over again. I live my without regrets, but I do reflect and acknowledge that there are things that should have been done differently. And it is by this that this blog post becomes important.
Sacrifice. We don’t know, in America, what sacrifice truly is. Often, we think sacrifice is not going out to dinner on our one night that week, not buying our morning Starbucks for a week or one day a week. We don’t, typically, understand going without meals for several days, not eating so your children can eat, eating two times a week so your children can eat four times. These are sacrifices that others have to make, and we don’t often have to.
In the blessing we have lost an important attribute. Sacrifice.
When I was courting my ex, I thought that I could not live my life well, if I did not marry her. I thought this transient status of courtship could not survive some years. I felt that it would be leading her along. And perhaps, I would have been, if we dated for several years. But the reality of was much deeper than that. The reality is that if we had spent those years cultivating our friendship and truly getting to know each other, understanding each other, perhaps the character flaws that lead to the death of our marriage would have surfaced or would have been non-existent. Perhaps, the relationship would never have survived as mere friends.
It occurs to me that, had I taken more time, we could have found ourselves in better places. Having such directionality to my life could have caused me to purpose myself, similar to how the marriage did, but in a better way. Without having to support a wife, without having a bifurcated focus, it could have pushed me in a way that honored God more directly; paying off my debts, accumulating a safety-net of savings, etc. Thus, when the time came to provide for my bride, I would have been more capable than I was those years ago.
Instead, the hard-knocks we should have encountered in our courtship were encountered in our first years of marriage, as a layoff lead to financial hardships, as the opportunities for jobs lead to moving to a more remote area, separating us from family. While all this appeared to strengthen us initially, it eventually proved to be more damaging than either myself or our families realized.
For some years prior, God had led me down paths that had shaken me, breaking me in various ways, always pushing me to grow. Consequently, I failed to realize that the new difficulties were too much for my ex. I was ignorant of the ways such struggles were impacting her, and she chose to keep it to herself. Our foundation began crumbling because it had never been properly laid.
Instead, if we had chosen to sacrifice, giving up that which we so desired and wanted, and established a plan, striving to achieve the goals, knowing that it would take some time, perhaps more time than we wanted. Even still, ultimately achieving those goals would have been a greater blessing than either of us could have realized.
As I think about these things, I look at where my life is now. I realize how much I could have done with the resources God gave me. I could have had these experiences that I did, but I could have had them in a much smarter way. It would have been difficult, but that difficulty could have worked out insufficiencies in my life, areas where I needed to, frankly, grow up!
Look for the things that God has asked you to sacrifice on. Rather than looking at them as some sort of deprivation, as something that God or society has held you back from, see the Master’s blessing. See what God is saving you from, what He is protecting you from. And let that sacrifice be your meager offering to an infinite, loving, powerful, compassionate, gracious, merciful God who cares more for you than you can ever think possible!
For me, with all my mistakes, He has still given me beautiful children whom I am blessed to care for. He has broken me until I’ve submitted to His incredible will (brokenness is not bad, see here). And He has granted me the opportunity to let my mistakes teach me and, through the mediums of our time, to give others the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.
Before I leave this topic of sacrifice, I must say that if you have never given yourself to Jesus, if you have never made the ultimate human sacrifice of placing yourself down at the foot of the cross, giving up your sin for His salvation, then today is your day, dear reader! Do not close the window, do not leave this blog, without letting go and giving your life to God’s service, not as some religious or patronizing act, but as a true sacrifice in thankfulness for what He has already given to you, Himself, His Son’s life, broken and bleeding for you, risen again as the victorious Savior He is! All you have to do is cry out to Him, admit your sin, and as Romans 10:9 says,” that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” And then live, just live, in that thankfulness, serving Him, not in some religious piety, but in an honest sacrifice of love to the God who loved you first!
Vires et Honorem – 10 Corinthians 15:10