What is Sacrificial Love?
What is sacrificial love?
The question is posed to a room full of young people. I mull that question over in my mind. Over, and over, and over. It tumbles through my thoughts as I'm shoving suitcases into the back of the van the next morning--trying to get people loaded up, because we're running not a half an hour, but an hour late! That though of "live sacrificial love" may be one of the only things that keeps me from losing my cool completely. Then we're finally on the road and driving down I-20 while the thought is still pushing its way through my mind--not caring whether it is convenient for me or not.
So finally, I purpose in my heart to try and live out sacrificial love over the next month (at least), if only to get the idea to go to the back of my mind. Little do I know, it wasn't going anywhere but to the forefront.
And then pain, tearing, frustration, breaking of will, humiliation, death. An excruciating crucifixion of pride.
But I'm learning.
I’m learning that sacrificial love is to be practiced in every act, even the small. Especially the small.
Sacrificial love might be:
- Holding hands with a little one a bench behind me in the van. Sure, it causes my arm to be bent at a painful angle, but it shows the child that I love them more than my own comfort.
- Sleeping on the cold floor, because I know that the child in the bed is having a hard night, and is gonna wake up crying again soon.
- Biting my tongue. Hard. Because I know that what I want to say doesn't need to be spoken. They are more important than me being right.
- Not rolling my eyes or not screaming.
- Doing every bit of dreaded laundry by myself or getting wrinkled fingers from washing dishes.
- Taking my coffee black to save the last bit of half-n-half for the next person.
- Saying "no," or sometimes saying "yes."
- Showing the dark of my heart or not holding back tears.
- It might mean gritting my teeth and pushing on.
- It might mean apologizing when that's the last thing I want to do.
- Saying that thing that might seem awkward, but so badly needs to be spoken.
- Not riding shotgun.
- Letting go, holding on, or simply praying.
- Packing my bags and going far away or unpacking them, settling down, and making a home.
Sacrificial love is about breaking down, giving away, losing, and finding joy.
Through tears. Whispered. Breathy. "Not my will, but yours be done." I used to wonder if the little things I've tried to do in everyday ministry even meant anything or if they were just a fanciful time-filler. Were my attempts at showing Christ in the small things at all influential or important?
Slowly, Christ has been showing me that those smiles, those little notes, those friendly conversations, those little gifts, those efforts to walk step by step like Jesus--the small--are really the mission. Even on those days when we practically have to pry our feet off of the floor to move anywhere, it is our mission to walk like Christ, even in the small. And even when we twist an ankle, fall, or mess up, we can rejoice that His power is shown in our weakness! He is glorified in our weakness so, in all our stumblings, our lips should sing His praise. In all our failures, our souls should sing His glory!
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." - 2 Corinthians 4:7
I doubted--down deep, where it was harder to see. Hidden.
But just because you couldn't see it, that doesn't mean it wasn't there. It was. And it gnawed away at my joy. It pushed lies and fear into my mind. So much so that every time my mouth said, "God will provide," I had to battle hard to believe it within my heart. I wanted to have control (maybe still do, in my sin). So I battled with the Lord, trying to prove that I could better control and provide for myself.
He won. He won MERCIFULLY, bringing me to my knees, not with chastisement, but with blessing. I would have chosen safety. I would have chosen now. And I would have chosen easy. Instead, He chose unknown, He chose later, and He chose hard. But He was right. He is right.
So I am trying to walk humbly and strive to punch doubt in the face, should it ever come near my soul again. Because I will not let it steal my life and joy again. I will not let it make me hard when being the soft clay in the Potter's hands is what I am called to be. I am being broken to be remade. Humbled to be exalted. Torn apart to be remade in the image of Him who made me--body and soul. And I cannot let doubt steal me away from the loving, shaping hands of my Father.
"Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work." Psalm 62:11-12
Written by Emma Schram