Last week I got a call from a friend I had not spoken to in two years. This person saw me come back to God on a very personal level. She saw me struggle to sacrifice my fears, to sacrifice the control I thought I had on my life, and to sacrifice my job, my family, and the life I once knew. She watched me transform through massive sacrifice of everything I had. What I never knew was that later this friend would remind me that I have much more to sacrifice - such a powerful and necessary sacrifice that I can only be grateful for the blessing.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
When we become part of God’s family, share His truth, live out His divine mission for our lives; when we allow God to take control of our lives and lead us on His path, we become an even bigger target for evil. When you choose to diligently spread God’s truth and love you may as well carry a huge flashing red arrow above your head at all times saying “come test me!” You will absolutely be tested, tempted, broken, and refined. God will sometimes have to break our hearts in order to soften them. In order for God to polish us and see His reflection in us He will allow us to go through the fires so that our impurities can be smelted away. Through this refining, we give ourselves up to a God who is so much bigger than ourselves and who loves us so much He chooses to be our God. He chooses to create, help, heal, refine, and use us. Being a child of God means that I truly must sacrifice myself for His glory, mission, and purpose so that His will may be done through me, whatever that may mean.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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. Philippians 3:7-8
When I was 22 years old I heard God tell me that I needed to give myself up completely to His mercy. For years I thought I could gain control of my crazy world. I thought I was making it okay. I had done life “my way”, was “figuring it out”, was barely scraping by. I had spent years living the way I wanted to and following my own ambitions and desires. At 22 years old I surrendered control to God, and with that I began to understand that in order to really live out His will I MUST sacrifice all of my own human desires, ambitions, pride, recognition, and control to Him. As soon as I gave myself completely into His hands my whole world began to change. I sacrificed my old life and old self so that God could make me new. I was filled with incredible peace, wisdom, and a desire purely for Him and His plan.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
"Grateful" and "sacrifice" are two words that certainly do not seem to go in the same sentence. Sacrificing ourselves for His sake is extremely difficult, and it is extremely constant. It is not a daily choice - it is a moment-by-moment choice. It is a constant sacrifice but it is a sacrifice that I am so grateful God gave me the option to make. Sacrificing myself has been a blessing beyond belief. It is a sacrifice I regret not taking when I slip up and think I can do it better. When I fail to release control to God I mess up every time. When I think I know better or my ideas will have better results I am disappointed every single time. But when I, again, humbly sacrifice myself to my Almighty God, I know that I can trust whatever comes. Yes, it still hurts sometimes but there is also a peace knowing that God will carry me through it.
'Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ' 1 Peter 5:5-10