Graduations,Universities, Weddings, and Altars

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I’ve cried out in prayer, like many of you have, “God, I’ll do anything, go anywhere, and give up whatever You ask, for Your will! Everything I have is Yours!” Only to find that everything encompasses everything and that offering of everything I have is much more complicated than praying that prayer sounded at first.

My promise rang out in my mind when God took me up on my offer. I realized when my offering was being accepted that I might not have really meant what I said. Shame filled my heart as I realized my promises to sacrifice everything to my Lord perhaps weren’t as sincere as I thought; I labeled myself the supreme hypocrite until I understood that an offering isn’t meant to be easy. Sacrifices are meant to hurt, just ask the animals offered on the altars in the Old Testament. I don’t think that once the sheep meant for the sacrifice approached the place of slaughter that they happily ran to have their throats slit. In fact, I can almost picture them pulling and crying out for help. No, sacrifices are not easily given; lives are not offered on the altar without a struggle.

Some of the most difficult sacrifices we make in life are those that pull us away from loved ones. That sacrifice not only touches the lives of those going, but also touches the lives of those who stay behind. The journey of those staying behind has a pain all its own and can only be soothed in the same way it is soothed in the lives of those going: by laying our lives, our wills, on the altar of sacrifice. Jesus said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers” into the harvest (see Luke 10:2). In praying those prayers, it rarely crosses our minds that God might actually take one of our own into His field. Then, when our loved ones answer the call, we resist their leaving us, forgetting that we had prayed (unknowingly perhaps) for them to go.

God the Father understands that pain, you see He never asks something of His children that He Himself hasn’t done before us. God’s Son answered the call of Who will go?” when He came to the earth. God, until that point, had never been separated from His Son, but let Him go fulfill His destiny. In sowing His Son, God reaped a multitude of lost children in us. Now we carry on with that destiny, our own life experiences mirroring His, taking us to every corner of the world with this Good News.

As our families grow and our children graduate, move on to university, get married, move to other states, and even other nations, the altar of sacrifice comes center stage once again and that lamb doesn’t want to stay put. The familiar sting of sacrifice will automatically cause us to pull back; as if out of reflex, to avoid the inevitable hurt that we will feel. I know that pain all too well but have found resisting God’s will to bring more pain than accepting it.

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Resisting the changes God brings to our lives, whether loved ones leaving for the foreign mission field or when our children graduate high school and move away, only results in bitterness thinking over what “could have been.” 

What could have been if we don’t obey God? What would those consequences be? The loss of destiny, the loss of what could have been had we obeyed God or not resisted the obedience of our loved ones to God’s call? Why do we resist so much when the call doesn’t flow with what we thought was “normal” for families? Allowing, instead of resisting, those changes to take place means you’ve graduated in more ways than one.

Here’s a secret, answering God’s call won’t be easy, it will definitely be the road less traveled. However, traveling that road will certainly make all the difference.”

Recently, our family has been reading biographies on missionaries of times past. Just this morning we finished reading about George Müller who was a missionary to the orphans of England in the 1800s and founded the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. He was a father to over 10,000 orphans over the course of his lifetime and was known for his reliance on prayer and faith in God to meet his and the orphans’ needs. The road he traveled wasn’t what his family, especially his father, expected – his sacrifice cost him greatly and often tasted bitter. It seemed he had nothing, but in the end, as it goes with “All Things God” his life was richer than anyone could ever have imagined.

We won’t see the difference unless we are willing to drink that cup, whether it be sweet or bitter, that has made its way into our hands. That’s the pattern Jesus set for us and I’ve decided not to fight the call. I’m putting my sword down and drinking the cup, it’s what’s best for me.

John 18:11 TLB “But Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword away. Shall I not drink from the cup the Father has given me?’”

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