When I think of sacrifice, my mind reels toward the plethora of blessings we shower upon ourselves here in America. Personally, the only thing I see sacrificed when I look around my beautiful home is our savings account. I went to the grocery store the other day and spent $197.98 on ten days worth of groceries.
According to Netaid.org, there are over 1 billion people around the world (1 in 6 individuals) living in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1 a day — a dollar to provide for all their needs. Ethiopia, with a landmass about the size of Texas, has a population of approximately 77 million people — 5 million of these are orphans. In the United States alone we have over 581,000 children who need someone to let them sleep and eat in their foster home.
In January, resolutions were made. These resolutions are familiar to our culture. They are sacrifice as we often know it. For example, I’ll sacrifice my peanut-butter-double-chocolate-chip cookies in exchange for a girlish figure. Ooh, how about my latte so that I can stick another $4 in savings? Or maybe, I could take the pile of clothes I was going to sell online and deliver them to the mission store instead. Perhaps someone will sacrifice their second income this year to stay home with their children, or put their dreams on hold to provide for their family. Maybe today’s happiness is sacrificed to maintain an unbroken home, or conversely, the covenant of marriage is sacrificed to flee the oppression of physical or verbal abuse.
Sacrifice looks different, depending on what loss you are facing. In my life, I haven’t lost much, but instead have been blessed beyond what I deserve.
During the pursuit of my husband adopting our oldest son, we didn’t have two dimes to rub together, and struggled to pay the exorbitant court expenses. Before it was over, God provided. We received Wal-mart cards with $300 balances, gas cards, bags of groceries, and in the end, a check in the amount of $4,000 to finish paying our attorney’s final bill.
Even in hardship, I am blessed, and I think my sacrifices are small in comparison to those who are born in war-torn countries like Sierra Leone or Israel. I am not sold into brothels as are the young girls in Nepal. Nor did I lose my home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, relocate to Galveston, only to faced with destruction and devastation again in 2008. I live in the upper Mid-west, in a home I don’t have to pay for, next to a church full of families who provide and care for ours, in a town where I can leave my front door unlocked 24 hours a day.
So my question to God is: What, Lord? What can I sacrifice for You?
The writer in me wants to define that word, sacrifice. So, let’s do it:
- Sacrifice — originated from Middle English verb: to make sacred. (I love when words are defined by their root word. It is so helpful. Now I get to define sacred.)
- Sacred — holy, worthy of respect, or dedication.
Therefore, if we are to sacrifice, we are to make it holy, worthy of respect, or dedication. This sounds more relational and less material. I don’t think I can sacrifice my couch and make it holier (although my two-year-old has tried by using a pencil). But I can take my everyday life and turn it over to God. Listen to the group of people surrounding Joshua: “Then they answered Joshua, ‘Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go'” (Joshua 1:16).
The potential to build relationships, to go where God says, to accomplish what God asks, is limitless. To say “Yes” to God requires sacrifice.
I would like to offer a challenge. Recently, our pastor showed a video from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It is available to purchase from Willow, or you can currently watch it online. It’s titled, A Thousand Questions.
In it, the poet marvels at God the Creator, who was complete, perfect, needing nothing. Yet, God did not stop there. She writes:
But did you look out that empty sky with a lonesome ache for something more?
Something yet to be born, unformed?
Were you reaching for us?
Were you reaching for me?
She continues to praise Him, and then stops, vulnerable, clothed, and yet naked in her request to understand. “This is my Father’s House…. But I fail to see, the fulfillment of the promise, here.” The clip shows children on the streets, soldiers crying, the elderly dying. Ending with international believers, coming, one at a time, to say, “Here am I. Send Me.”
I cried in church last Sunday. I don’t have a lot compared to my next door neighbor, but I have everything one of those children needs.
Last Sunday, my husband and I received the final call we have been waiting for. We will be embarking on the journey of international adoption. One of those 5 million orphans is ours, and we are starting the journey to bring her home. Yes, it might require part of the money we have been saving for a home, but will she care if the four walls surrounding her crib are ours on paper? I don’t think so.
According to Earth Trends, in 2004 the United States accounted for only 4.3% of the world’s population but consumed over 80% of the world’s goods, such as meat, fish, paper products, and gasoline. I think I can say that I do not understand the meaning of sacrificing my daily bread. If the loaf is gone, we have shelves of it at the grocery store, waiting.
There are so many people waiting. Waiting to hear about Christ, waiting to feel love, waiting to love back, waiting to feel full. Full of food, full of love, full of purpose. This year, the only thing I can think of to sacrifice — to make holy (or at least attempt to start) — is me. I desire to be worthy of the title “Christian.” I desire to pour all of Him that is within me out as a drink offering before the Lord. Let me quench their thirst. Let me be Your tool. Here am I. Send me.