Joy tells us that we love something. Sacrifice tells us how much. --Dave Barnes
Sacrifice. The word alone doesn’t roll in a beautiful way off of our tongues. It clings to the roofs of our mouths not wanting to be professed or, even worse, experienced. The paradox I’ve experienced in my own walk with the Lord is that there can be a bruised beauty in so much of what we call the Christian life. Sacrifice is one of those things. The witness of true sacrifice, the complete emptying of self for the good of another, makes me weep at its beauty.
As Jesus clung to life as He hung from the cross we see the perfection of love made manifest in the ultimate sacrifice of the Father. And yet we know this is not meant to be solely a reminder of the sacrifice that was made for us, but rather a model of which we are called to imitate. So what does real sacrifice look like?
I have a friend, an incredible witness in my life, who has shown me the unvarnished beauty of sacrificial love. Fran is remarkable. She is kind, loving, funny, and a mother who has lost a child. For many years she fought, and fought hard, against the drugs and mental illness that ravaged her son’s mind. She spent sleepless nights praying, days researching, and every minute of everyday loving her son. I was blessed to have her son in my middle and high school ministry programs and he was a wonder of creation. Bright, funny, compassionate beyond understanding, loving, and a friend to strangers. Every moment I got to spend with him was gift and pure joy. I watched this woman, his mother, my friend, give everything for him. In the end he wasn’t able to experience life beyond high school, but he experienced enough sacrificial love through his mother in his short life than most experience in 80 years on this earth. What moves me even more, is that what would normally have broken a heart beyond repair, has turned ashes to beauty. See, Fran hasn’t stopped loving. If anything she is even more convicted of the need for everyone to know Jesus, and His redemptive love. She finds the broken and the wounded and carries them to the Healer; even in her own discomfort she lives sacrificial love. She images Mary to me, the mother of Jesus at the loss of her own son.
Jesus was a sacrifice that is for us, but His parents, Mary and Joseph, bore that loss too. Mary, so full of grace, so full of love, wept for her baby boy. Then she gave her life to the service of man, so much like my Fran. If we are going to truly love, and love deeply, we must be prepared to sacrifice, and not count the cost. In moments when I think of Fran, and in moments when I miss her baby boy, I think of the words of Mother Teresa: “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness.”
God thank you that you loved me so much that you gave your son for me. You poured out all your love in the shedding of your son’s blood. Lord pour your love into me, and give me the grace to pour it out for everyone I meet. Let me pour it out for my family, my friends, my neighbor, but also give me the desire to pour it out for the lost, the lonely, the homeless, the refugee. I’m so weak God. So often I think only of myself, or of myself first. Give me your heart. Help me to see as you see. I need you Lord. Amen.
Each day see if you can make two little sacrifices for love. One for love of God: Sacrifice something you would normally do and spend your time with Him. One for love of neighbor: Give something up so someone else might have something they need.
United Pursuit – Seasons Change
This song pours the steadfast love of the Father into my heart.
Here’s a recipe for some amazing Chicken Piccata. Invite some friends over, crack open a few bottles of wine, and fill your house with the comforting smell of butter and garlic. It’s a little salty, a little acidic, and all smoothed out with a little white wine – much like life, right? Serve it with some crusty bread and angel hair pasta for a meal that will make you want to stay around the table all night long.