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Sacrifice so far

I cannot believe it’s already April. Further thoughts around sacrifice and what it means to me have been floating around in my head over the past 3 months and I am finally collating and writing them down. There have definitely been some plans for the year that I thought fit quite nicely under “sacrifice” that have yet to be realised, and yet other smaller things that I feel my attention drawing to. This always seems to be a common pattern - what I think in my small, earthly mind compared to what God knows is actually going to be the case are often quite different! And I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit that has brought some revelation and ways to apply this to my life on a much broader scale than I had limited myself to.

 

One of the big things that fit under sacrifice that is not quite eventuating as planned is volunteering for Young Life. We came back from summer camp in January all pumped and excited for getting something off the ground in our local area with some other Melbournians. Despite some amazing God opened doors right at the beginning, since then, we have continued to hit road blocks that have caused us all to pivot and pause. This has been quite disappointing, but we are still hopeful and learning that sacrifice is coupled with surrender. When we make our plans and put aside our prayers, thoughts and time for something, we also have to be okay with the fact that we could do all this work and sacrifice all this energy, and yet, it’s in God’s hands not our own. It’s in His timing and His will. Whether it happens or all falls to nothing, sometimes the sacrifice isn’t about the end result, it’s about us being obedient in the process. Godly sacrifice is not an exchange where we give our time and energy and can be guaranteed the outcome we want, no matter how righteous we may think that outcome is. Godly sacrifice is laying it down at the feet of Jesus and not expecting anything in return.

 

There are some times we sacrifice something because we want to trade it for something better - sacrifice time to work out at the gym to get a better body, sacrifice sleep for commitments that we want to go to, sacrifice fun things to get study done, etc. But sometimes sacrifice is just giving up something because He asks us to. Our love for Him has to be first. Abraham in the Bible was asked to sacrifice his promised son, the most precious thing to him (Genesis 22). Not to trade for something better, but purely out of obedience to God. Jesus cried out to God the night He was arrested for another way, but faithfully suffered through the sacrifice of all sacrifices out of obedience and love for us, a sinful people (Matthew 26). People all over the world in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian, sacrifice their lives because they will not renounce their faith. There are countless more examples in the Bible and in our history of people sacrificing not to get something out of it, but out of obedience to Christ and out of love for others and conviction for a greater purpose. A purpose where God is glorified, a purpose where people are brought into His kingdom, and a purpose where the result might look bleak but the growth of character has made it all worth it.

 

Another spin off from sacrifice that I feel like I need to grow in, is discipline. While yes, discipline can fall into the above category of sacrificing something to trade it for something better, discipline is the building of habits and choices that you do whether you get something out of it or not. For example, reading the Bible consistently requires discipline. Sometimes we will get lots out of it but sometimes we may not be in the right headspace or understand what we’re reading or have time for too much thinking upon completion of reading. And that’s okay. Doing it anyway, even if we feel like we didn’t get anything out of it, or have enough time to do it properly, is discipline. As we get into the colder months, it’s harder and harder to get out of bed. But I started an early morning pilates class once a week recently and found myself springing out of bed to get there on time at 6:30am in the morning, and yet struggled to open my eyes by 8:15am the next morning to work from home and fit in Bible time. That was a bit of a wake up call for my priorities. If I could wake up early to leave the house to exercise, then I certainly need to be able to be awake early enough to get some Bible reading in. My happy compromise is that I have my Bible next to my bed so I can be cozy and warm but make sure the Bible is the first thing I’m picking up in the morning. Some days I am excited about it, and some days it feels more like a checklist, but the consistency and the discipline to keep going anyway is out of obedience and love for God.

 

Having Easter recently, the reminder of all that Jesus has done for me has been so timely. If He could endure not only physically dying on the cross, but the mockery and torture leading into it, and then the immense weight of all of our sin, then I can certainly “tough it out” and make some small changes in my daily life to bring more focus on Jesus and being with Jesus compared to just doing good things. So I am excited to continue learning in this space, and trying to think of more small changes that I can make so that my life is not just sacrificing a little every now and then, but a daily submission to Him.


I hope this is an encouragement to you that sacrifice doesn't have to be a massive thing you give up. Sacrifice is just about obedience to Him everyday, doing what He has called you to do - Nothing more and nothing less. Because sometimes we fall over ourselves trying to do all the "good things" for Jesus that we miss maybe the 1 thing He actually wants us to do. And sacrifice in this case may not be stepping out to do something cool, but stepping back to do something only He sees. So I hope that you will join me in continuing to seek what He wants me to do, one day at a time, and learn more of what sacrifice looks like in our own lives.



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