There are very few things in my life I have truly been asked to sacrifice.
I sacrificed my body to carry my three children for a cumulative total of 27 months while they grew in my womb; another 36 months as I nursed them during their first year of life. During this time my thoughts were not on myself; my cravings or desires didn’t matter, what mattered was the baby inside me. That is what determined what food I ate, what I drank, and how much I exercised. My body no longer looks like it did before I had children. It has been stretched beyond repair, with scars and stretch marks that serve as visible proof of my sacrifice. My hips are fuller now, my tummy much softer, my breasts, once beautiful, now lay flat against my chest. But honestly, this is a sacrifice I willingly, joyfully made. Perhaps there are days I look in the mirror and sigh. But truth be told, I wouldn’t change my body for the world, knowing what it has done, what it has brought to life, I hardly consider that a sacrifice.
I sacrificed my career to stay at home with my children. I went from having 6-8 letters after my name, indicating my importance and my degree, to just three, M.O.M. I gave up an income that would allow for a bigger house, newer cars, and more giving, to cut coupons and balance a much tighter budget. But again, this is a sacrifice I willingly chose and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Why? Because this is a sacrifice made out of love and one I knew would be returned with love. Though my kids have never looked me in the eye and thanked me for carrying them in my body, nursing them their first year of life, or giving up my career to stay at home with them, I know these sacrifices were important. I know my kids appreciate what I have done, even if they don’t yet recognize it, and these sacrifices have allowed us to be the family that we are. They love me; they know I love them. Any sacrifice I may have made for them I made willingly and would make again.
It’s easier to make a sacrifice when you know that sacrifice will be appreciated when you know it will lead to something good, something worthy of that sacrifice. It is a whole lot harder to make a sacrifice when you don’t know how it is going to turn out when you don’t know if that sacrifice will ever be appreciated or even noticed.
I heard a story of a woman strong in her faith who, when she was out on a speaking engagement, felt led to give a Bible away. The problem was she didn’t have an extra Bible, she only had HER Bible, the one she had written in, underlined, memorized, the one that had gotten her through all the various joys and trials of her life, the one that had the names of her children in it, held her dried tears on the pages. She was being asked to give THAT Bible away… to a stranger… who may or may not even appreciate it. Someone who may just turn around and throw it in the trash! Someone who may not even recognize or understand the sacrifice she was being asked to make!
In an act of obedience, I’m honestly not sure I could emulate, she gave her Bible away. She went home and bought herself a new one, not knowing the fate of her well-loved book. Years later she found out the man had gone home, taken a week vacation from work and sat down and read her Bible cover to cover. Sometime later, the man passed that Bible on to someone else, who also read it cover to cover.
The sacrifice she made was well worth it, though she didn’t know it at the time. It wasn’t until years later that she would see the fruit of that sacrifice.
Sometimes, however, the sacrifices we make never are recognized or appreciated.
Jesus made a sacrifice too, only his sacrifice he KNEW some people would never accept. He KNEW people – many, many people – would never accept, recognize or understand the sacrifice he made. And he made it anyway. He knew there would be scores of people who neither appreciated nor noticed what he did, but that didn’t stop him. He made the ultimate sacrifice out of obedience and love.
We are all called to make sacrifices. Some of them will be easier than others. Some of them we know will bear fruit. We know good will come of them and though it is a sacrifice, we know it is well worth it. Others sacrifices will be a risk, we may not know how they will ultimately turn out if they are appreciated, if they bear fruit, but we make them anyway. These sacrifices can be harder to make, but they are even more important. They take a bigger leap of faith, greater trust. And then there are the hardest sacrifices of all, the ones you know will go unnoticed, unappreciated. We are called to make these too. These are the sacrifices that are just between you and God, and oh, so pleasing to him! Because he knows EXACTLY how much they cost you. And though they feel worthless at the time, trust me, they are not!
Whatever it may be that you are being asked to sacrifice right now, I encourage you to do it! Make the sacrifice!
Trust. Obey. Sacrifice.