Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
It’s not scripture but it’s a powerful truth I seem to forget. Sacrifice often takes a back seat to convenience and comfort. We prefer easy, speedy and painless and then wonder why we don’t feel fulfilled. The important stuff; the stuff that leaves us joyful and alive; that’s the stuff that involves love and requires sacrifice.
I’ve had several nudges lately that remind me how true this statement is. We are called by the greatest commandment to love, and the truth is, we can’t follow that commandment without sacrifice. Sometimes that sacrifice is small, for instance, I loved being a teacher but spending time in the evenings and on weekends grading and planning was a sacrifice. Other times the sacrifice is much bigger. I hugged a good friend at her father’s wake this week and she lovingly told me she was so happy for her dad and found peace just thinking about him rejoicing and being free from pain. Her perspective and strength were inspiring but the sacrifice of that love will weigh heavy on her days for quite a while.
Sometimes the sacrifice needs to look like patience. Sometimes it needs to sound like a swallowed opinion. Sometimes it needs to appear to be sand slipping through our fingers as we let go of the past or of our own agenda. Sacrifice is loving people exactly how they are and where they are. Sometimes we’re called to love someone just by being present and there is sacrifice in keeping quiet and not trying to fix or change them. The people who love us back make it easy to love but we’re also called to show Christ’s love to those who can give nothing in return and that is truly a sacrifice.
I think about all the times I’ve tried to find the perfect gift to show my love for someone. When I heard this line spoken by a movie character I realized I’ve been shopping the wrong way. I suppose the more we love, the more we should be willing to sacrifice. I loved my children but I’m not sure they always saw my carpool complaining as a loving sacrifice. This simple little line can bleed into doing the laundry and helping with homework and holding the flashlight in the rain so Dave can figure out why the tractor is making a weird noise. This kind of love happens in the middle of the night after a bad dream or at the end of the day when you want to tune out the world but someone you love just really wants to spill their heart.
There have been times when I’ve wondered if all the sacrifice of a relationship was worth it or if it was really supposed to be so hard and one-sided, but as I’ve prayed with these words for a few weeks I realized I was looking at it out of balance. Love and sacrifice aren’t always equal. Sometimes we receive love far greater than we sacrifice and more often than not it is opposite. We’re able to sacrifice and love others but at some point, we expect to receive love in return. We want to feel there is something in it for us. I forget that my call to love others isn’t to get something in return. Love is so much bigger than all the warm fuzzy feelings. Love is the duty of a disciples and the way to keep that in balance is to realize each person that crosses our path is there so I can show them the love of Christ. It’s not about loving so I can get something back, it’s about loving so I can love Jesus himself. When I look at Jesus on the cross, I find the truth because it reminds me that there is more love poured out on me than I could ever imagine. I know I will never be called to love with a sacrifice anywhere near that magnitude but when I recall his sacrifice for me, it helps put my teeny little sacrifices for others in perspective. Again, I remember it’s not about me at all!
A Seed To Plant: Who can you love today?
Blessings on your day!
Did you ever noticed how many ways we identify and announce who we are, what we like and what we are involved in? There are yard signs, t-shirts, hats and bumper stickers just to name a few. These things send a message about who we support, who we connect with and who we like best. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and it all started at a Detroit Lions game. The kids gave Dave the greatest Christmas gift ever and took the most loyal Lions fan I’ve ever known to his first game. As we walked down the streets and into Ford Field I noticed that I was practically the only person there who wasn’t wearing Lions apparel which made me feel a little out of place. In a world that can seem to fuel division, it makes my heart happy to see simple things that can connect us. Everyone in that stadium (except for a few Carolina Panther fans) were united by a common thing and seeing people laugh together, high five each other and celebrate was a fun thing to soak in. What started out as a Sunday NFL game has turned out to be a couple of great lessons.
At the game Sunday I was interested in the back of the players jersey because I wanted to know their name. I found myself wondering who they were, where did they grow up, where did they play college ball? I wondered about the ones who never hit the field or had their name announced? Then it hit me, it didn’t really matter because they all had the same name on the front of their jersey. The morning after the game I came across this quote from author Jeff Cavins, “When you truly and humbly play for the name on the front of the jersey, people will remember the name on the back of the jersey.” That was lesson one.
Lesson two is still unfolding but it started with the question…whose jersey am I wearing? I suppose we have many jerseys…teams, groups, clubs, companies but which one is most important…which one do we want to be identified with the most? Of all the “jerseys” I could wear, most of them will cause a little good-hearted riff like the opening game of the NFL season when I wore my KC Chiefs shirt and Dave wore his Detroit Lions shirt. We wore them with pride and loyalty knowing in the end only one of us would be wearing the “right” one. When I think about the quote from Jeff, I realize being a good disciple means I really do have to have one jersey that is way more important than all the others and that jersey can most certainly raise some eyebrows and for some, cause quite a riff but I need to ask myself if I’m a big enough fan to wear it for all to see. If my jersey bears the name of Jesus on the front, do I play like I’m really on the team and am I playing for the name on the back or the name on the front? If that jersey is a symbol of my discipleship, how will I feel if I’m the only one wearing it or how would it feel if everyone was wearing it? I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at jerseys quite the same way for a while…I’ll thank Jesus, Jeff Cavins and the Detroit Lions for that.
A Seed To Plant: What jerseys do you wear? What would it be like for you to wear the one for HIS team and how would that change things in your life?
Blessings on your day!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Every marketing genius works their entire career in hopes of being the one who creates that slogan that catches everyones attention and makes their product a household name. Some of those slogans stick for years. I’m pretty sure I can still sing the McDonalds Big Mac song and I can still sing “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.” We know how to “Just Do It”, “Have it your way.” and “Leave the light on.” If only we could get the really important stuff in life to stick like a commercial.
I ‘m leading a retreat for 75 middle school kids today and one session is based on one of the most powerful slogans my disciple heart ever heard. I saw it on a pack of scripture cards and it said, John 3:16…BE A WHOSOEVER! I had to think about it for a minute and then I just laughed. It was a perfect one liner. One of those statements that just sort of snaps you to attention. The goal in this life is to live it in such a way we get to heaven. The question then is, who gets to heaven. The answer is right there in John 3:16; whosoever believes in God. I want to be a whosoever! The beautiful part of this verse is that I have to realize being a whosoever is possible because of what God gave us through his Son, Jesus.
It’s all here…the motive, the result and the promise. A whosoever lives like they recognize and appreciate the gift of Jesus. A whosoever realizes what they need to do and what the reward will be. The whosoever knows the promise and tries to live like they believe it! A whosoever is who I want to be. If I take control and forget to ask the Father for his plan, I’m not being a whosoever. If I gossip and behave selfishly, I’m not a whosoever. If I fumble my way through the day leaning on God’s guidance and believing in his power, then I’m on the road to being a whosoever. I think I might be saying to myself, “That wasn’t very whosoeverish!” Maybe it’s a slogan that just might help you point yourself in the right direction too.
A Seed To Plant: Make a “Be a Whosoever” sign and stick it somewhere visible this week and see if it changes your thinking and your actions.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com