Sacrifice

Do you know what it is to sacrifice?

I’m not talking about those selfish sacrifices, where you sacrifice time of relaxing to train for a competition, or where you sacrifice the sweet delights of dessert for the sake of losing a few kilograms of weight. I’m talking about giving up something that means a lot to you for the sake of someone else or for the sake of the Gospel.

Paul shares his experience of sacrifice in Philippians 3 : 8

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”

In other passages Paul mentions everything he suffered and how he often went hungry, was persecuted, beaten, chained and suffered… Why?

Why do we sacrifice? What motivates us to make those sacrifices? Any sacrifice, whether selfish or unselfish, is motivated by a passion or a love for something or someone.

sacrifice-of-the-saviorIn the scripture above Paul gives us a peak into what motivates him to suffer loss and sacrifice. He says, “For his sake…” Who is this person who makes it worth it for Paul to suffer the loss of all things? This is the person of Jesus Christ. The One who left his throne in Heaven to dwell amongst man, to suffer and be crucified for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God. The One who was willing to humble Himself to be put to death on a cross!

That is the ultimate sacrifice. It is this love and this sacrifice that motivates Paul to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.

How about you? Are you making sacrifices for the sake of Christ? Have you come to fully understand the extent of Christ’s love for you when He died on the cross? Does His love motivate you to make sacrifices?

If you ever find it hard to make a sacrifice for the sake of Christ, think again on His sacrifice for you.

David-Livingstone.jpg“Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”   -David Livingstone

 

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Coming to terms with loss

In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to comfort and console many who are experiencing bereavement. Loss of a family member, a friend or even a pet. It is devastating to lose someone you love, and trust me when I say that I know what it is to lose someone you care deeply for to death.sculpture2_645_469_55

But through all of this I feel the pain of loss even for something I never had… a child…

The Lord has been so good to us and has blessed us in so many ways but sometimes there is this empty ache in my heart when I feel the loss of the child I may never have.

I read the Bible where it encourages me to be content in whatever circumstances I am and I feel guilty for not being content with all the many blessings that God has given me.

I read the Bible where it encourages me to trust in the Lord with all my heart and He will make my paths straight and I am thrilled with how I can rest in my Abba Father with my circumstances and know that He is in control… but the pain doesn’t go away.

Over time the pain gets better but then it comes back and it overwhelms me and I feel like Peter looking at those waves, willing myself to look away but I can’t! I’m sinking! Jesus help me! This is a continuous battle.

I am grateful that I have a wonderful husband, I am grateful that we have a roof over our head and food on our table. I am grateful for the vehicles we have to be able to move around as well as the means to put fuel in the tank. I am grateful for our cat and her beautiful personality. I am grateful for all the many gadgets and other blessings we have like clothes and shoes etc. I am grateful for the mornings we can sleep in because it’s just the two of us and I am so grateful to God for giving us this time together as husband and wife. But OH!… I long for a time where there will be a little body in my arms. I long to see my husband as a father. I long for those pyjama drills and dirty nappies… It probably sounds like I am crazy… Am I?

But through all of this, I am grateful that in my heart I still find that there is a peace and a trust and a knowledge that God, my Father, knows best and will provide what we need.

” We know that He works all things together for the good for those who love Him.”

Romans 8:28

We all have to deal with it…

Disappointment…. We all have to deal with it.

In this past week I was reminded of my own disappointment when on Sunday the visiting pastor preached on family and the importance of raising the next generation for Christ. Then the following day I saw on Facebook that a friend was pregnant and everyone was congratulating her. All this scratched open old wounds and  I felt hurt and sad all over again!

Often we live in our own selfish little bubble without realising that others are also suffering like ourselves. Our pain isn’t all the same but we all have pain.

I came to realise this as I was pouring out my woes on my dear friend’s kind listening ear and telling her all about my disappointment.

Did my kind friend understand? ABSOLUTELY!

In actual fact she was experiencing a similar pain of her own. She isn’t married yet and is also wondering when Mr Right will come along. She has been in relationships but just hasn’t met the right man yet. A colleague at work this week got engaged, the TV show or movie tells a compassionate love story and she is wondering, ‘Will this ever happen for me?’ She is asking herself if she should lower her standards and settle for someone less than what she is worth…

She understands my pain. She is longing for something that is right and normal and wondering why others can have it and she can’t. She is counting her blessings while she is single but still hoping and praying that somehow the right man will come along for her.

Later on I took comfort in my husband’s arms and told him that I was hurting. He told me that he too had taken a bit of a knock during a conversation with someone. The couple he had chatted with were trying for a third child but having trouble conceiving. They expressed their own pain without realising that we were still trying for our first child without success.

We all have pain and each pain is as real as another’s. When we take time to see that and to reach out in compassion to each other we will also find some sort of healing.

I have noticed that when I am hurting or feeling sorry for myself, praying for others helps me forget my own pain. I get to focus on someone else’s pain instead of my own and then my spirit lifts.

Let us make a choice today to look for other’s who are hurting and reach out to comfort them during their suffering. Pray for them. Love them. Listen to them.

God bless!

“Happy” Father’s Day

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For many years my husband and I have tried to have children. We have prayed, we have read books on the issue, we have visited others who have prayed for us and we tried the wonders of modern medicine…. But to no avail.

At first I was frustrated, angry and hurt. I would see other women my age and often younger falling pregnant and I would congratulate them through gritted teeth.

I stopped going to events and socials because it hurt to see others and their children.

I would see pregnant tummies and new mommies cuddling their babies and I would cry… I wanted that. I wanted to feel what it felt like to carry a baby in my womb. I wanted to feel the warmth of my baby feeding on my breast. I wanted all those things and more.

But my pain wasn’t all my own. When I looked at my husband, I could see how he loved children and it broke my heart thinking about what a good father he would be. He was strong and gentle and enjoyed teaching and playing with other people’s children.
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Gradually, I learnt to submit my will to God and I started to force myself to enjoy the benefits that we have as a husband and wife without children. We can come and go as we please, sleep in on a Saturday morning, and have as many “date nights” as we like. These are just a few of our luxuries as child-less parents.

Then God blessed us with a cat. She came into our lives by “accident” but we both believe it was no accident. We rescued her from the dog and since then she has filled a gap in our hearts which helped me to heal from the hurt of infertility. We found something to love and enjoy and she loved us back which was a wonderful bonus.
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I felt whole again. No more pain and no more longing. I enjoyed our quiet nights as well as our spur-of-the-moment outings. I enjoyed sleeping in on Saturday morning and having fun with my hubby. I didn’t feel the need for a child anymore.

But then came Mother’s Day… And now Father’s Day….

It still hurts.

It hurts that I will never be a mother. I won’t ever get a mother’s day card or flower…. It hurts that my husband who would be an excellent father won’t have that joy. I can’t give him a father’s day card or help our child prepare him a special breakfast.

I know it’s silly! How stupid to put so much emphasis and emotion into a commercial and man-made holiday which is probably only there to help businesses make money. But it hurts nonetheless.

In a few days/weeks I will probably get over the hurt and move on because I trust in my God and I know that He is Sovereign over all… but there are others out there who don’t know this or they have lost sight of it for a moment like I did.

I am voicing my pain for those who need to know that there are others who know your pain too.

God knows what the loss of a son feels like. He understands our pain. The world isn’t perfect but our Saviour is! He has died in our place so that we can be free from death and the curse of sin. I can know peace in my heart and soul because of His mercy and grace. Hallelujah!

When the pain comes again, as I am sure it will, I will remember that God is in control and I will think about how much He loved me to die in my place. This is enough for me!

The Greatest Commandment

This Sunday at church we looked at Mark 12 from verse 28 where one of the scribes asked Jesus which commandment is the most important of all.

v.29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

Firstly we see that instead of just one commandment, Jesus gives two commandments as if they were connected.

Secondly it stands out to me that for both of these commandments the root is LOVE.

I was challenged with the thought that we are told to love God with ALL our heart…. soul … mind… and strength. Is there any part of us with which we have left? No.

Every part of ourselves should be totally focussed and committed to LOVE for God. From our love for God will flow a love for our neighbour (even the unlovable one).

I realise that more often than not, other “loves” divert our attention from our love for God. My father often spoke of, “The expulsive power of a new affection…” That phrase stuck with me because I often found myself passionate for Jesus until something else comes along that steals my affection and hijacks my attention.

Do we love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength? Or is He second to all the other affections that take our focus.

 

Man and his plan…

keep-calm-and-rest-in-the-lord-7The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

 Every day I wake up and move through the day with a plan in my heart. “I will spend more time in preparation for my lessons… I am going to mark those tests today… I am going to eat healthy… I will spend more time in prayer today…” Some of these plans are fulfilled and some not.

You might have plans and goals too. What are your goals?

It is good to plan and prepare but we must remember to rest our plans and goals in the hands of God. If Christ is truly LORD of our lives, we rest in Him and submit our plans to His will. It is the LORD who establishes our steps.

Tribute to my Mother

This mother’s day as I was pondering the amazing woman that my mother is, I lost myself in the complexities of all the wonderful things my mom did for me and the love she showed to us.

Many dimensions of incredible would need to be summoned to provide an adequate description of my mother; I don’t think anyone will fully know or understand how amazing she really is.

My mom was barely 20 when she was first called “mother” after my birth. I was her firstborn of 5 very active and naughty children. She sacrificially gave of herself as she poured out her immense boundless love for us. My mother brought us up in the incredible ways of God and taught us to always choose the high road. She often read to us from the Bible telling us its many exciting stories.

Sadly, to my deep regret, we broke her heart many times, and yet she always loved us unwaveringly. I often saw her on her knees earnestly praying for us with tears running down her cheeks (I’m sure she still does).

She often had to endure our frequent complaining and raging ingratitude, behaving like spoilt brats. She took it all on her shoulders, listening lovingly to our point of view, sternly correcting our misbehaviour, and tenderly disciplining our wrongs.

My mother reminds me explicitly of the passage in the Bible in Galatians 5 which speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. I was privileged to be witness of her life and consistently saw her displaying each of the fruit of the Spirit.

“ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

Galatians 5:22

LOVE: My mother loves constantly, relentlessly, unconditionally, sacrificially, selflessly, and without regard to cost. My mom’s love is bigger than even I can comprehend but that which I have seen of her love, amazing as it is, is not the whole of it. There is so much more veiled behind her beautiful smile.

JOY: My mother has a marvellous sense of humour and frequently made us laugh. She always helped us see the sweet side of a sour situation. She would wake us up in the morning singing songs and filling the room with joy and gladness.

PEACE: When all around us was chaos, Mamma was the rock that remained constant; though most others around would be in turmoil and distress, my mom had a peace which seemed to surpass all understanding – and we could feel her peace emanating from her presence.

PATIENCE: My mother is patient beyond understanding. My mom has hope when all others have given up already. She often sat up with me through the night helping my stubborn brain memorize vast amounts of information when I was studying for Matric.

KINDNESS: My mother is kind. Countless individuals were beneficiaries of her great kindness. She was always willing to help others, stand in for duties when others couldn’t be there, and she never spoke a bad word about anyone.

GOODNESS: My mom is perfect! She often apologised for just thinking about doing something wrong.

FAITHFULNESS: My mom is faithful to the bitter end. Her loyalty to God and His Word is unwavering; Her faithfulness to her husband is impeccable.

HUMILITY: Never a proud look or a haughty attitude have I seen from my mom!

SELF-CONTROL: My mom always exhibits self-control. She controls her actions and her reactions like no one else I know. Never have I heard her speak out in anger or lose control of her calmness.

My mother is like an angel, the closest thing to perfection on this earth – and if there is anyone who can disagree with me on even one point, I would blatantly call you an ignorant liar!

Mamma, you are the best mom I could ever ask for. I LOVE YOU and deeply appreciate all you have done for me from the first day till now. Although we are far away now and circumstances don’t allow us to meet often, I hope and pray that I will see you again soon.

You were an amazing mother and still are. I love you and pray for you often!

Happy Mother’s Day

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