Monday, December 22, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Sacrifice Doesn’t Hurt
Today’s Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This morning was tough. My wife and I stood in the dining room of our home at 5:40 a.m. and said goodbye. Not to each other, silly. But it was almost as hard. We held hands and prayed with our dear friends Dudley and Inge Donaldson. They left this morning on the first leg of their journey that will eventually lead them to Swaziland for at least two years of missionary service. Of course, we cried.
On Saturday, as Dudley and I were working to put some of their remaining belongings into storage, we had a great talk. I say remaining belongings, because they have so little left. In preparation for their move to Africa, they gave away most everything they owned. In fact, all of their possessions now fit inside an eight by ten storage locker, and it’s only half full. Other than the few boxes of precious memories at our house, they are starting over.
Today and tomorrow they are travelling in their mini-van to Canada to see family. They will give away their van, and the remainder of the possessions in the van, before they fly next Monday to Swaziland. They will have two, fifty-pound bags of luggage and a carry on bag on the plane, and that’s how they will start their adventure following their Lord and Savior to the uttermost parts of the earth.
About that discussion Dudley and I had – it was about sacrifice. I told Dudley how blessed I was to have been a part of his life, and how much it meant to me that God would partner us in his work for the time they were at our church. I told him how much it meant to me to see the way he so willingly made whatever sacrifice was necessary to be obedient to God’s call on his life. Then he said this – “It doesn’t feel like sacrifice.”
That really made me think. Why does sacrifice hurt for so many people? Why do we fight God’s direction in our lives? There is a simple answer. It will hurt more than the sacrifice. The reason sacrifice hurts is that we love ourselves more than we love God. OUCH! But it’s true. Think about it. Being asked to do something by someone you truly love more than self cannot even be defined as sacrifice. It is only sacrifice if you love what you are giving up more than you love the one for whom you are giving it up. It is only sacrifice if you don’t trust the promises of the one for whom you are releasing control. When obedience hurts, it’s not motivated by love, but by obligation. That’s not what Jesus had in mind when He said “I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” It’s certainly not what He meant when He said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I watched the living proof of my point over the last 9 months as Dudley and Inge obeyed God with joy. They are at rest in His plan and His provision. They have been called according to His purpose. They are confident of His promise that all things will work out for good and the Glory of God. That’s what their lives are about. I learned from watching them.
When I got up this morning, I saw some neatly organized stacks of paper and cards on the table. Inge explained to me that they were from Dudley. On Sunday my wife had received a similar stack from Inge. In my stacks were gift cards, punch cards, and coupons for three free car washes, a free loaf of bread from Great Harvest, four free dinners at the Great Wall, a free sandwich at Mancino’s, a free lunch at T.G.I Friday’s, a free lunch at Culvers, and some other various discounts at different stores. My wife had received several gift cards from clothing and specialty stores. All of these cards and coupons had been given to them or earned by them, yet they gave them all away. They have no need for them any more. Now I get the blessing of seeing who God will bring into my life to share them with. They are not mine. They are God’s. It will be a joy to use them to help others. It will not be a sacrifice to give them away, because I don’t own them.
Living like this is fun. It’s fulfilling. Anyone want to go to lunch? Dudley’s buying.