My wife and I took a lazy Sunday. No, we didn't stay home and vegetate on the couch. We drove around the area doing probably two of my least favorite activities, driving and looking at houses. While I may not necessarily enjoy doing those activities I know that my wife does and I made it a point to let her enjoy the day. Despite what many might think I find joy in watching my wife find her joy. There are times when we are both working on our respective design projects on different computers, but I know that spending that little bit of time away from her to let her be creative is what brings her joy. Thus joy is brought into my life. Sacrifice for others and you will find peace in your own life. What does that even mean?
When I first started studying the Bible on a serious level I saw the sacrifices that were being made by others. God took an entire people and taught them to rely on Him. The entire nation of Israel sacrificed easy living to experience fullness and strength in God. It took them forty years to figure most of that out, but they did and thus entered into the Promised Land. We are made strong in sacrifice, but it is God's strength that we need to exude.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:10-13
High's and Low's
Have you been in a high in your life? That point where everything is going great. You're life is at peace, you have the best job, the most behaved kids and so on. None of those points may be a high for you, but think about a high in your life. When you hit that high what happened? A good amount of the time those high's in our life do not last long and that short lived peace usually dips into harder times to come. We all go through trials and they shape us. Make us better than we were before. The strength we gain from a trial is similar to a difficult workout at the gym. I wouldn't know much about working out since I haven't worked out in nearly 10 years consistently. However, it is the workout that keeps us ready to run the race. You don't start out running a marathon; you first walk the block.
In the midst of trial we find ourselves suffering through and hoping for the end with our eyes closed. I want to encourage you to think differently about trials. A few friends of mine have started to see their own trial as a proving ground to see where God will take them next in their walk and what that next step will look like. They may not see the end of the road at the moment, but they are confident in what walking this road will mean for their faith.
Be Found Approved
When I look back on my own walk with God there were moments when I grew tired and angry with God. First, for the loneliness of my life and then with the feelings of failure. I will be honest I am not the most forgiving person when it comes to failure and it becomes even harder when the real failure is inside your own heart. If you search to conquer your failures and shortcomings you will eventually come face to face with them. The more we struggle against the chains of our sin the more they are bound to us.
"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
For those longest time I felt stuck in an interstitial space between God and everything else. An outcast attempting to fit in. I tried to please both sides of the fence and came up short in every way. I served in the church more, but still felt empty around my family and friends. A servant to the point of exhaustion. It burned me out and I starting losing my faith that I had anything to offer. The mistakes we make are lessons for God to show us where we need to be. Sacrifice is not always about losing and giving up. In our walk with God sacrifice is about gain. We lose this life to be granted an eternal life. Jesus cast off our sin to make us blameless before God. He sacrificed so that we could know the Father. Though I do not mean to say that it's our sacrifice that institutes the gain. Our works and purpose are dead without the saving blood of Jesus Christ.
Wanting, but Not Needing
Most people might see the Christian life to be prudish and boring. The flesh filled desires of this world are enticing and in reality when you give that up it may be a sacrifice to them, but to a Christian there's no big loss. When you empty the sand from your pocket after a long day at the beach, do you lament the loss of the sand? No. You clean your pockets and move forward. So why then do we have such a hard time letting go of this life to serve Christ with all that we have as a living sacrifice? I am reminded of Jeremiah 13: 12-13:
"Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water."
I don't mean to be judgmental. I'm harder on my own failures in these areas than I am at poking the problems others are having. We are all guilty, but I will point at myself first. The things that take time away from my Lord are inexcusable, disgusting and filthy. I plot my day in such a way as to complete the work set before me, but never truly carve out time to spend with God on a regular basis to pray or read the Word. I'm drinking from a broken cistern in place of the fresh, flowing water that comes from Him alone. I want more of this life though I don't need it. I strive for success in this world when what I need to be successful in is knowing Him.
I challenge you to sacrifice. Do something in a sacrificial matter for your wife or girlfriend, a member of your family, and even your kids (if you have some)? It doesn't have to be an earth shattering sacrifice. Simply give and do something you wouldn't normally do for someone else. So go and find your lazy Sunday afternoon.