I am not so good at the everyday sacrifices. I expect it’s not just me. How many times have I taken the plunge– the leap of faith– prayed, and meant, take my life and use me as You will? And to be honest, I guess I have expected fireworks, maybe a ticker-tape parade in honor of my great sacrifice.
I’m not saying I have what it takes to be a martyr, but I am saying that oftentimes the really painful sacrifice is not dying for one’s faith, but living it out. Because we can surround martyrdom and persecution for our faith with a kind of romantic glow, but that glow disappears entirely in the day-to-day reality that God doesn’t necessarily want me to be a martyr; but He surely wants me to be a living sacrifice. And that sacrifice is made in the piles of schoolbooks, the unwashed socks, the plate-scraping and the floor-sweeping and the getting up early to have time with the One I said I’d give my life for.
What if He wants me to give my living to Him, not just my life?
This walking through this new year is already off to a rough start, I’m not going to lie. Because maybe in my hidden dreams I thought I would be climbing some sort of golden ladder, walking in Jesus’ steps. Maybe I thought that just committing– I will walk– was enough to make the walk more of a glorious frolic through sunshiny meadows. And yes, maybe through the Valley of Shadow, but always with a stoic, holy face, shouldering my cross, following my Savior, as some kind of glowing heavenly light fell from heaven on my faithful steps and angel choirs sang in awe at the great steadfastness of my sacrifice.
I guess whatever I was expecting in my arrogant foolishness was not a path that would lead, again, up the stairs to a child who needed me, again, and again, when all I wanted was to curl up in a ball in my chair and read. I guess I wasn’t expecting a path through all those crumbs on my kitchen floor to the fridge to make yet another meal for my hollow-legged children. I wasn’t expecting a path straight to my word processor, fingers hovering above keys, with apparently no words to be found.
I knew that following Jesus in 2017 would be hard, but I never learn my lesson and remember that it’s going to be daily life hard, argumentative kids hard, lack of motivation hard, saying no to the cookies hard. I never remember what God has tried to teach me– that my real need is seen not just in the huge moments when I have nothing else to depend on, but in the daily unexciting life, the daily grind, the routine and the repeated schedule of day after day. That’s where I need Him most, maybe because nobody is watching.
Who’s going to know if I fail to get up early, if I fail to honor my commitment to do the work? Who’s going to know if I lose my patience with my kids, if my attitude stinks, if I bang the pots on the stove because I don’t feel like cooking another meal? So much of what I do seems to be based in receiving affirmation from others.
Today, my life is all just life. I am called upon to fold towels, to scramble eggs. I am called upon to write this blog post, to attend a meeting, to teach spelling and math and writing. I am called upon to love my husband and children, to teach the church kids that Jesus is the Lamb of God. I am called to live my life, to take today’s steps across that messy kitchen floor (maybe even with a broom?), to step across the gap to my child who needs a hug instead of a lecture, to step up to the sink to wash another dish.
I am called to walk with Jesus– and His steps lead faithfully through the everyday sacrifices of a normal, everyday life.
He who called you is faithful; He will surely do it.