Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sacrifice and Old Shoes:

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Anyway, I'm camping out in the book of Genesis right now.  I just finished reading the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Whenever I read this story, it brings me back to an experience I had at church this past year.  A Sunday morning when we learned about sacrifice- and then were asked to give up our shoes.  I wrote a few thoughts on it back then, and pulled them out for reflection.  Check them out.

Mark 10:21-23 (NIV) 
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Genesis 22:2
Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go...sacrifice him there..."

"This morning, God decided to shake my world up a bit, as He sometimes tends to do.

The sermon this morning was about “Sacrifice”.  I was challenged as I listened to the contrasting stories of Abraham- willing to give up his only son as an offering; and the rich young man- who loved his possessions so much that he chose them rather than Christ.  I sat there and listened.  In my mind I was cheering for Abraham, smiling and soaking in the beauty of that kind of sacrifice.  In my mind I was scoffing at the rich man, who thought his possessions were more valuable than spiritual healing.  How could he?  Didn’t he realize what he was saying no to?  Didn’t he realize that this would be his salvation?  I mean, how truly superficial can someone be?

It’s funny how we tend to compare ourselves with holiness and think we measure up.  To think we have somehow managed to stack up there with the great people of faith, and listen to correction and advice as though it was meant for the one sitting behind us.  And then God decides to shake us up a bit, reminding us of where we really stand- reminding us of how much of our sin His grace truly covers.

Our Pastor then took the next step in talking about sacrifice...in discussing this unfathomable word that brought Christ down to this earth to show us the true meaning of love.  He challenged us to apply this word to our lives...to be a living example of the sacrificial love of Christ.

Oh- okay, I thought.  I got this stuff down.  I wake up early on Saturdays to hang out with the poor of the inner city, I make sure to keep the house clean and dinners delicious for my husband, in fact- I’m even going on a mission trip next month to a third world country- talk about sacrifice...as I mentally went down my list of sacrifices, checking off the boxes, getting holier and holier by the moment.

Our Pastor spoke of the poor and needy that he saw this week, lining up in front of the Church, waiting for the free clothing the Ministry could offer them.  He spoke of their needs, most of them not even owning a decent pair of shoes.  We were challenged to consider their needs, to consider the act of sacrifice, giving to others what they do not have, doing for others what they cannot do. We were challenged to realize how much we had been given, and be able to give back that kind of love...literally.  We were challenged to come up to the altar and lay down our shoes.

My shoes???  You’ve got to be kidding me.  I love these $20.00 shoes, I wear them to work everyday.  They sparkle...and have such a cute little heal...and they’re oh, so comfortable!  How about I just write a check? OR maybe go buy a pair of shoes for the poor...that would be honorable.  Or how about just tell myself that this doesn’t really reflect the condition of my heart...I mean, God REALLY knows my heart.

And then it hit me.  God REALLY does know my heart.  He knows the darkness, the selfishness, the rationalization that lives within it.  Sad, but oh so freeing.  He knows the struggle...he knows the superficial tendencies I have.  He knows the deepest parts of me- the fight between my spirit and my flesh.  I began to cry.  I couldn’t believe what a battle this had been for me, to give up a cheap pair of shoes.  What makes me scoff at the rich young man, when I struggle at the idea of a giving a personal possession?  It hit me then that I had been the rich young man all along...I had been the one blessed with the ease of life, the comforts of America, the freedom of my faith and my religion.  I had been the rich young man all along...in giving what is easy, what is timely, what is practical and convenient.  In giving when I feel like it, when I have extra, and when I know it will make me look good.  My own sort of “wealth”...I call it comfort.

God shook me up real good this morning, and I am so glad he did.  I am so glad He opened my eyes to realizing how much I need him everyday, to teach me what it means to truly love, to truly give.  I had somehow convinced myself that I had it all figured out.

I write this because I want to be held accountable.  I want to be a woman who is known for giving and loving like my Father, like my Savior.  I want to be a woman that offers when it isn’t convenient, and when it stretches my faith.  I want others to be challenged like I’ve been challenged, to live out the love of Christ in the day to day, when eyes are on us, and when they aren’t.

May we choose to follow Christ in giving up our shoes...and in giving up our lives.  Where you lead us Lord, give us the strength to go."


  1. Found your blog through network blogs on facebook and find your honest words very thought provoking to read. Thanks for sharing. I invite you to check out my blog also. http://www.healthyspirituality.org

  2. Thanks, Jean, for your kind words. I appreciated your thoughts on the "right kind of questions". May God grant you His grace as you continue your spiritual journeys toward Him. God Bless!!


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