Friday – February 27, 2015; The Nature of Sacrifice

Mark 8:34-35

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 

As single parents, we know a few things about making sacrifices.

Many of the sacrifices we make could be considered ‘noble’: taking a lower paying job (with less travel and overtime) in order to make sure we have more time for our kids, changing our ambitions and priorities so that they fit more closely with the needs of our children, giving up what we want for their sake, even just being single parents signifies our willingness to sacrifice for our children. However, some of the sacrifices we make for our children may not be quite so noble…

There have been times when I have sacrificed my time in order to give my daughter a ride to places she probably should not have been, I also have driven when I was too sick or too tired to be behind the wheel, much less out and about in the cold or rain. I have given up on sleep out of worry for her, or because she was having trouble dealing with a problem she walked into with her eyes wide open, I have let her use the car to go to the store, when I was not quite sure of her actual destination…and I buy her cigarettes!

Remember that she is 20, so it is not like I am buying them for a teen-ager, but I really hate that she smokes, and cringe every time I buy her cigarettes, not only because I have to give up something I want or need to pay for them, but also because I know it is so bad for her. It is a sacrifice that I make for her sake, although it is not a great or ‘noble’ thing…but then not all of my choices or sacrifices have been good ones; some have been done out of necessity, to prevent more conflict, or just out of weakness, but the bottom line is all these sacrifices have been made out of my love for her, and my desire to see her happy.

Of course, no matter what the nature of our sacrifices: noble or foolish, they do not always bring us great rewards, as often all we get in return is the cry of “more, more!” or dissatisfaction with what we have already done for our children. There are also the feelings of guilt that can result from knowing that we have made choices we knew were poorly thought out.

The way of sacrifice is not an easy one, it can be difficult and confusing, as things like right and wrong are seldom clear; but then the call to take up the cross is a call to follow Jesus all the way to Good Friday, a journey that was neither easy nor one that made much sense, at least not without looking at the bigger picture!

Through Christ, God sacrificed a lot for us, not only by dying in agony on the cross, but also by coming to live with us, as one of us in the dirt of this world, all to understand all that it means to be human! These were sacrifices that God did not have to make, and might have been considered as questionable, because for all the trouble it brought Jesus, even today many scoff at the idea of a Higher Power, and will often deride the faith that we hold so dearly as a fantasy.

However, sacrifice is often its own reward, and those made by God for us are like the sacrifices we have made for our children: done out of love, made because above all else we want our children to be happy joyous and free (even if it does not always work out that way)!

Therefore when we truly sacrifice for our children, even when it is reluctant, or poorly thought out, we are following the call of Christ to put others ahead of ourselves, following in his footsteps in his ministry of making our world a better place, where God’s love is truly with us, every step of the way! When this love is shared with each other and our children, our faith grows stronger, and our world is flooded with grace…grace that can forgive us for when we make a foolish choice, and grace that can give us hope, because although we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus all the way to Good Friday, the good news is that the journey does not end in the darkness of Golgotha, but carries us on to the light of Easter!

It is in this light of Easter that we receive our true reward: the promise of new life, the promise that our sacrifices are not wasted, that all the gifts we have given to our children have helped to give them a strong foundation here in this life and in their life of faith!

Let Us Pray:

Thank you God, for the great sacrifices you have made for us: coming to be one of us through Jesus, loving with us, weeping with us and rejoicing with us, learning what it is like to live our lives! Please help us to follow the call of Jesus to take up our own crosses and not to be reluctant to sacrifice for others, especially our children. We pray that these sacrifices are noble rather than foolish, but let us forgive ourselves for those times when right and wrong are not so clear to us, and give us the ability to turn over the results…the lives of our children, over to your care.

Amen

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