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Not Without God!

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   I grew up on a farm, with three other siblings. The cultural way of things was to grow up, earn a living, get married, and raise a family all within the confines of our place of origin. And that’s pretty much the way it played out, until I came along!

   In my early 20’s, God dramatically changed the course of my life. Leaving behind everything that was familiar to me, and stepping out in faith, I moved to a different city and enrolled in college. 

  Then surprisingly about 30 years ago, God lead my husband to pastor a beautiful local church near my parent’s home. During that time our girls headed off to the college my husband and I had attended. My son was preparing to farm (for we now lived on the farm where I had grown up) when he graduated from high school.

   One by one my daughters married and moved away from home. Although, I  released each of my children to serve God wherever He called them to, the release, nevertheless,proved to be painful. Then, as in my life as a young adult, God dramatically changed the course of my son’s life, eventually, leading him to Africa. 

   My spiritual background equipped me to do what my cultural background could not. I knew what it was like to leave the familiar behind to follow God’s call. As I released each of my 4 children, I drew upon those lessons learned in my young adult years. Did those lessons serve to make it easier on me to release my children? Nope, not at all! But the Truth’s of God’s word made it doable.

God gave me permission to hurt and cry out to Him in my pain.

His grace was poured out upon me and I received His peace.

Day by day He carried me until I could, with His strength, stand on my own.

I learned that no matter how hard it was, God would be there giving me strength.

   No matter how proud we may be of our children’s achievements, letting go of them is super hard. Therefore, we need to call upon something other than our own strength and will. I couldn’t have done it without God. I suspect you can’t either!

Sacrifice brings glory?

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Maridith's washing machine!

A few days ago Bobby & Maridith posted this picture.  They had been visiting the people who are living in the house they hope to be moving into in a few weeks.  Maridith is preparing the washing machine they will be using for 4 adults and 3 small children.

A sweet lady at my church, after seeing this picture made the following comment, “I now have a whole new appreciation for my electric washing machine and dryer, and for the sacrifices Bobby & Maridith are making.”  This lady loves Bobby & Maridith and supports them in prayer and various other ways, so I knew that God was doing a work in her about sacrifice.

Her statement prompted a thought of my own.  Sacrifice is something we are all called to.  What it looks like for others may be different than what it looks like for us, but we can’t live for Jesus as we should if we aren’t willing to make sacrifices.

AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM!

The issue of sacrifice is completely foreign to most Americans, given the luxuries that are ours in abundance.  For those of us who are Christians, this abundance makes it difficult to keep the concept of sacrifice in balance.  Here in America materialism makes sacrifice an unattractive concept.

And for some of us it’s not so much the material things we would have to give up but giving up our children and grandchildren to answer a call that would lead them to a far away place becomes the greater challenge.

But does anything of great worth in this life come without sacrifice?  I think not.  My mind ponders the gripping pain of contractions that brings the birth of a child.  You ask any mother if the sacrifices her body endured during her pregnancy was worth it and you’ll hear a resounding yes!  Great sacrifice brings great rewards.

And, of course, the most powerful of all sacrifices was made by Jesus when He paid the price for our sins on the cross.  The Bible gives irrefutable evidence that Jesus thought His sacrifice was worth it!  Your own salvation says as much!

Here’s the deal.  It’s all about perspective.  A mother willing makes sacrifices during her pregnancy because her focus is on the baby that will be born. Jesus was able to make His sacrifice because He looked beyond the cross.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – (Hebrews 12:2)

So when we are called upon to make sacrifices (like giving up your children to go live in a foreign land and having to become a long distance grandmother when those babies start coming), we have to avoid focusing on the sacrifice and instead focus on the glory.  Just think of the souls that will be introduced to Jesus because your child was willing to make sacrifices so those souls could hear the Good News. (When you get to heaven, that’s going to be a really big deal!)  Just think of the adventure and experiences they will have and don’t be surprised if God includes you in some of those along the way.  If we can get ourselves out of the way and start focusing on how our children’s lives will be blessed and benefited, (and ours too) because they answered God’s call upon their lives and we were willing to give them up, then the sacrifices made begins to dim and the glory we and they will experience  grows brighter.

Now, take a look at this picture:

How would you like to wake up to this view every morning?

 Bobby wrote the following words after being inspired by such a view,

….I have found a new peace here. A peace that comes not from the serenity that surrounds me, nature can be deceiving, but from my God, the One who brought me here. What is it that You have brought me here to do? Am I ready? Will I be strong enough? God help me to trust in You for all of this. It is You who brought me here, it is You who will keep me.

The God that created the beauty surrounding them, will tenderly and lovingly provide for my son and daughter-in-law’s every need.  They are willing to trust Him and follow Him.  I will do no less!  Was their sacrifice and mine worth it?  Already, I can give a resounding, YES!

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