Every Christian, at one point or another, has had to “sacrifice” something to God. This “sacrifice” could entail the surrender of finance, a job, a relationship, a friendship, or any other life decision. We have had to “give up” something as a result of the Lord asking us to head our lives in a different direction.
- an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure.
Recently in my own life, I’ve had to grow familiar with this word. I’ve had to learn how to surrender. A thing that I wanted so badly, when taken as petition to the Lord, was answered with a firm “no”. My humanity could not understand this. This thing was a GOOD thing. It was something that had enriched my life, challenged my Christian walk and even brought me closer to God.
But sometimes a good thing is not the RIGHT thing.
Years prior to this moment I had made up my mind that no matter what the will of God was, no matter how contrary to my own desires, I would follow it to the best of my ability. Distraught and heartbroken I walked away from the good, but wrong thing. In my heartfelt lamentations and prayers to God I recall, with no right I might add, asking God for a reason, for clarity on the answer He gave me. In my humanity, I reminded Him how good my good thing was, because clearly the God of all the universe had no idea. In my pathetic weeping a thought from the Lord popped into my mind:
“Will He not do greater?”
The notion stunned me out of my piteous state. I paused. After taking a few breaths and mulling this over, conviction poured into my heart. Of course He will.
He is the God of greater.
God is in the business of doing GREATER. Although, I’d hardly consider God business-savvy. If God’s supply wasn’t as endless as it is, His grace and love would make Him bankrupt; He makes a lot of unfair trades. He takes our ashes and replaces them with beauty. He takes five loaves and two fishes and feeds a multitude. He’s a God that delights in doing “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He delights in spoiling His children.
Earlier, when I mentioned the word “sacrifice”, I used quotations because I hold a firm belief that:
Nothing I’ve ever given to God is a “sacrifice”. For everything I’ve placed in His hands He’s exchanged for greater.
If you are at a similar place in your walk with God, rest assured that no matter what your good is, whatever God has asked you to “sacrifice”, He is a God of greater. Anything you place in His hands, anything you surrender to Him, He will always replace with greater.
Thinking on this, I couldn’t help but thank God for His grace. He could’ve let me have my good. He could’ve said “Fine. Have it your way. I’ll keep my greater.” But He’s a sympathetic god, a god moved by compassion. He understands that we don’t understand. Instead of allowing us to make our own poor decisions, He steps in and let’s His will be known. On my daily prayer list, one of the focuses I have written is:
Help me not be so focused on the temporal, the immediate, that I miss Your vision for my life.
I never want my misplaced focus, my lack of understanding, to keep me from fulfilling the will of God in my life. I never want my faithlessness to move me to do things my way.
His vision is greater than my sight.
I was blessed to spend this past summer on AIM in Vienna, Austria. While I was there, Brother and Sister Shock, as well as their son Bradyn, came to help with a training seminar. In one of the sessions, Sister Shock spoke on the importance of obeying God’s word even before we completely understand “the why”.
“Obedience precedes revelation.”
– Sister Melani Shock
Eight months later, I still find myself recalling this sentiment. Sometimes God asks us to obey before He gives us the revelation or understanding of why we have to do what we’ve been asked. Sometimes the revelation, “the why”, comes at a later time and we have to trust God enough to obey anyways.
We endanger our promises when we allow our own understanding to lead our actions. A prime example of this is the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was told by God that his “seed” will be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:2-5). After receiving this promise, Sarah is still barren. Taking matters into her own hands, she suggests that Abraham should conceive with her handmaid, Hagar. As a result, Hagar has a son named Ishmael. In the very next chapter, God promises Abraham and Sarah that they will bare a son named Isaac. Abraham and Sarah’s impatience created Ishmael. For the rest of his life Ishmael would get to watch Isaac live as “God’s chosen” while he, the technical first-born heir, is treated as the handmaid’s boy.
Anytime I think of getting impatient with God about His promises this story quickens my spirit about the dangers of making my own way, of creating an Ishmael. Thankfully, God was gracious to Sarah and Abraham. He still allowed them to have their promise, Isaac, but for the rest of their lives Isaac and Ishmael were at odds with each other. Abraham, their father, had to watch, helplessly, the conflict that his impatience created.
God is faithful. His word is forever settled. His promises WILL come to pass.
Don’t force an Ishmael. An Isaac is coming.
Reflecting upon this, I am at peace knowing that my King will order my steps, correcting my missteps along the way. I trust God and His word that says He will work together all things for my good just because I love Him (Rom 8:28). I trust in His love for me. I know He will guide me to the very best. I have an amazing earthly father who loves me dearly. He works to bless me in every way he can. My baba loves to bring me joy. He loves to see me happy. He wants the very best for me. How much truer is this for my Heavenly Father?
I have faith in His promises.
I trust in His plan.
I don’t want my good, I want His greater.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9