Wow! That’s the only word I can use to describe my family’s recent vacation at Mount Hermon. I went tired, with a few questions for God and came back rested with encouragement and insight courtesy of the awesome Holy Spirit. I prepared myself for early mornings praying for understanding and instead found my answers in prayer as I walked from my room to the dining hall, or in the morning session, or on the nature hike. God’s wisdom and healing met me at every corner like Easter eggs half-hidden by an indulgent parent. With my spiritual needs so well met, I felt free to sleep, and what a welcome treat for a busy mom! What a blessing to be held in the gentle hand of God, being renewed for a new year of sacrifice and service.
And that’s what the message was all about for me. It’s time to sacrifice and it’s worth it. I’m in the middle years of parenting, homeschooling, and caring for many I love. Like a tenacious coach, I can hear my Father saying, “Ok, let’s take it to the next level.” But it will mean sacrifice. I looked up the definition of sacrifice before our vacation. Giving up something valuable, for a greater goal. This is more than giving up bad habits for good ones–that’s wisdom. Sacrifice is giving up something inherently good for the best. Sleep is good. But I need to get up at 5:30. Desserts are divine creations, but I can’t have more than one a week. That’s going to hurt. It’s doing what I feel God is asking of me, even though it’s hard. It’s also joy. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, endured the cross for the “joy set before him.” It’s the knowledge that I am helping God’s kingdom to come on this earth. It’s the sheer fun of doing what I was created to do even if it doesn’t earn any money or bring me any prestige. It’s the wonder of seeing God-given talents actually bless others. It’s finding out what the good works are that God has prepared in advance for me to do. It’s divine confirmation that I was designed, loved, and redeemed by my Heavenly Father. Most incredibly, it’s and adventure and a love story with a happy ending.
24At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4)
At times I have felt like Zipporah. I’ve been tripping blithley along my merry way and been stopped short by the realization that I have been neglecting an aspect of God’s truth that seems to me hardly worth the trouble of doing. How can something so small make such a difference to God, I think. Surely that can’t be important anymore. And yet I wonder. I’m not arguing for legalism but in our guarding against it do we sometimes throw away obediance that matters to God and would lead to blessings for ourselves? Resting one day a week–including no cooking–horrors! What’s the big deal? Well, maybe if I tried to do it, I would find out. In fact, when I think about it, I have obediance to one particular Old Testament principle to thank for a pretty great marriage 😉 Hmmm… I just might start cooking ahead for Sundays….
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Test and see. That’s our invitation. Try it God’s way and we get a chance to see first-hand what is the will of God and that it is pleasing, acceptable, and perfect. One great plus…we also get to prove it to those watching us from the sidelines. I remember being at a restuarant with my children when they were little. I was about to leave the parking lot after eating and a dear women came running toward me, apparently trying to chase me down before I pulled out of my parking spot. She wanted to know “what I did” to have my children so well behaved. I deferred the compliment a few times, but she continued to press for specifics, repeating her request three times, at least.. Finally, I told her we were Christians and tried to teach our children according to God’s way and with lots of prayer. It was a sober reminder that people are watching, and we have a chance to prove to them, as well as to ourselves, that God’s way is good, pleasing, and perfect.
2 Corinthians 10:5
5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
While we engage others who have differing views than us, do we make our thoughts obedient to Christ? Do we sincerely regard the other person as Christ does–with infinite value, utterly precious to God? I have no enemies. If someone considers themself my enemy because of God’s Word, they are really enemies of God. I have been set free to love. This is because God, who wants “none to perish”, has said vengance is His, to be executed in His time. The obedient thinker wants none to experience judgment without the grace of forgiveness. My concern is to reconcile those who don’t know the Lord or understand Him, to Him, that they may share in all the blessings of this life and the one to come–with me!
15Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
16But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,
17Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?
18When you saw a thief, you consented with him,
And have been a partaker with adulterers.
21These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
22“Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
23Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”
Why cast His Word behind us? He gives it so that we may have life and have it abundantly. That is the Great Deception…to treat the pleasures of sin as more real than the promises of the One Who loves us most of all. Is the thrill of sex outside His plan worth it? Is it possible to believe that a Creator who gave the earth its perfect tilt, perfect mass, and perfect rotation doesn’t have a perfect plan for sexual relationships? Or do we not believe in Him at all?
Oh, but He is VERY real!