The credit cannot be given to me in any way because, in the midst of grad school, copy editing, teaching dance, working full-time, and a long list of other "after school activities", I was not out looking for extra lessons or doing any frivilous research or reading.
The Lord decided it was time for me to learn about the definition of sacrifice. Actually, in order to teach me the definition of what sacrifice is, He taught me what sacrifice is NOT.
I suppose that in previous weeks, months, and decades (only 2.4 of those to choose from, thank you), as I passively thought about the concept of sacrifice, I looked to others' lives - imagine!
When I observed the life and ministry of another believer, I would ask myself if I would be willing to give up the things they have given up in order to be and serve like they are. This was an especially potent school of thought for me if that person had similar passions and interests as I do.
Typically I would answer (to myself, and to the Lord), "I think I could do that. Their life looks nice, and I know I could choose to sacrifice ____, ____, and ____, as they have, for a life and ministry that looks something like that."
I stopped. Shouldn't I have a different reaction to the concept of sacrifice? Shouldn't there be more of an internal ache at the thought? Don't get me wrong. I truly believe in the goodness of sacrifice, yet I was content looking at what others sacrificed, owning the sacrifice as my own, and deciding that it wouldn't be "that bad" to give up what they gave (as if I could really know what that is).
A combination of one particularly thought-provoking conversation, some wise people sharing their thoughts in a sermon, strategically placed readings, and a few personal moments led up to the question,
"What is the true meaning of sacrifice for me?"
So... What is it?
All of you who grasp concepts well and think with your brain know what it means to sacrifice, but
I had to really sit and soak it in. It's not about a feeling of, "Oh, I suppose I'd be willing to give that up." It is a gutteral cry of your heart, aching for the one thing you feel is, or should be rightfully, beautifully, and perfectly YOURS, placing it in your open, shaking palms, bowing your head, and willfully handing it back, knowing full well that the Lord could take it from you - leaving you to hold up what fragmented pieces of yourself are left with feable strength. You cry, you mourn, but you know that it is well.
Thy will be done.
Would you have it any other way? Ha, yeah you would! When we're haphazardly living through life, we all would have it another way. We would cling tightly to what we want, what is "ours", and what we believe to be the best life for us. Grasp it in closed hands, stomp our feet, and demand that this is the best way... "the way it should be!"
I don't know about you, but if given the opportunity, I could not have written my story up to this point as beautifully raw and real and redeemed as it is, and I don't think I have since gained the skills to be able to do so for the next however-many years. I trust in His goodness. I know He is faithful.
Here you go, God. Thy will.
Help me to be willing to sacrifice the things I want the most in life. If it is your will to take them from me, help me to trust and be thankful. If it is your will to grant me any of my "ideals", help me to humbly accept the gift, live in honor of the gift, and be willing to give up the next thing if needed.